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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 11

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Let's turn now in our Bibles to Ezekiel, chapter 11.

Now Ezekiel is in Babylon during the time of these prophecies, but the Spirit of God transports him back to Jerusalem. And there he sees things that are transpiring in Jerusalem.

Now as a background, there are some Jewish zealots who are still in Jerusalem who have rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and they are thinking that they are going to be successful in their rebellion. There are false prophets in Jerusalem that are encouraging the people in their rebellion, telling them that they are going to push Nebuchadnezzar right out of the picture. Jeremiah is in Jerusalem saying, "Don't listen to the false prophets. They are prophesying to you lies in the name of the Lord. You'd be much better off to surrender to the Babylonians, because if you try to resist you will be slain by the sword and the pestilence and the famine. So, surrender to Nebuchadnezzar." But Jeremiah is accused of treason and is imprisoned by Zedekiah the king.

But they have sent messengers, the false prophets, to those in Babylon, saying, "Hang loose, it won't be long. We'll defeat the Babylonians and you're going to be allowed to come back to Jerusalem. You'll be allowed to dwell in Jerusalem, so don't build houses. Just hang loose, deliverance is coming soon." But Ezekiel is there in Babylon saying, "Settle down, build houses. It's going to be a long time before there is any return back to Jerusalem. So, just realize that those that are in Jerusalem are going to be destroyed and the false prophets with them."

So, you have a confusing situation in that you have false prophets that are encouraging a soon victory over the Babylonian army. You have the true prophets of God, Ezekiel and Jeremiah, that are speaking God's truth and saying, "No, we are not going to conquer over Babylon, that God is judging the nation Israel for their sins, because they've turned against God and it's going to be a long period of judgment. You're going to be in Babylon," as Jeremiah said, "for seventy years, so make the best of it. Settle down, make the best of it there, because you're not coming back in a hurry."

Now Ezekiel is in Babylon, but there in Babylon occasionally he gets carried by the Spirit back to Jerusalem where he beholds the things that are happening in Jerusalem and he relates them to the people there in Babylon. And so in chapter 11 we have another one of these instances where:

The spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD'S house, which looks eastward: and behold at the door of the gate there were twenty-five men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur ( Ezekiel 11:1 ),

Now, this is not the Jaazaniah among the twenty-five men that he had seen earlier in a vision. That was the son of Shalman, I think it was. But this is a different Jaazaniah, probably a popular name. I don't know why.

and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, and they were the princes of the people. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and they are giving wicked counsel to the city: They are saying to them, [Look,] it isn't near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh ( Ezekiel 11:1-3 ).

The destruction isn't near. The city is like a caldron in which we are protected from the fire. Babylon's fires may burn, but they won't burn us, because the city is the caldron and we are like the flesh. It's going to be a long time before the heat will ever get to us. So just go ahead and build your houses and settle down, because we are protected by this city from Babylon.

Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man. And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them ( Ezekiel 11:4-5 ).

Notice that. God says, "I know the things that are coming into your mind, everything." That's sort of a heavy thought isn't it? " I the Lord," He said, "do search the hearts." God knows every thought that comes into your mind; nothing is hid from Him with whom we have to deal. Actually, the Bible says, "All things are naked and open before Him" ( Hebrews 4:13 ). "I know everything that comes into your minds."

Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with slain ( Ezekiel 11:6 ).

That is, by their false counsel they have encouraged the people to rebel, but all it's going to do is multiply the number of people that will be killed. As Jeremiah was saying to them, "Surrender and you can save your lives. They will be merciful to you if you surrender. You know, they'll take you to Babylon, give you a nice place to live an all, but surrender to them, don't resist." But these men by their false prophecies encouraging them to resist were only multiplying the number of people who were to be killed.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it ( Ezekiel 11:7 ).

So the people that have already died, they're the only ones that are going to be protected from the fire of Babylon. They are the flesh, they are the ones who are going to be protected, but you are going to be carried away captive. You're going to be led out of this city.

You have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD. I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you. Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD ( Ezekiel 11:8-10 ).

Interesting prophecy, "I shall judge you in the border of Israel." Now, when the Babylonian army came against Jerusalem and conquered it, the king, Nebuchadnezzar, remained in the city of Riblah, which is on the border of Israel. And they brought them to Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah where he judged them. Zedekiah you remember was captured and brought to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, and there Nebuchadnezzar killed his sons, right before his eyes, and then put his eyes out and he took him captive unto Babylon. And so a very fascinating prophecy of Ezekiel who is over in Babylon, really not knowing what's going on except by the Spirit of God, as he is taken back and sees these things and he predicts the fact that they will be judged in the borders of Israel, which indeed they were.

And this city shall not be your caldron ( Ezekiel 11:11 ),

It will not be a protection to you. It's not going to save you from the Babylonian fire.

neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel ( Ezekiel 11:11 ):

Again repeated, and thus they were.

And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes ( Ezekiel 11:12 ),

God's indictment against them, "Now, you've not walked in My statutes."

neither have you executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen round about you ( Ezekiel 11:12 ).

So their failure was to not walk in the ways of the Lord, but to follow the patterns of the heathen society around them, or to succumb to the mores.

Now, there is strong pressure upon us as Christians to forsake the statutes of God and to walk according to the popular mores of our society. There's tremendous pressure in our society today to accept things that God has condemned. And this pressure of the society is such that if you dare to condemn those things that God has condemned then you're looked upon as some kind of a religious nut, a prude, a backwards individual. "Don't you realize that times have changed? We're not living back in the Victorian age any longer. This isn't a Puritan society." And this tremendous pressure, to do what? Exactly what the children of Israel did that brought their destruction. Forsake the commandments, the statutes, the judgments of God, and start living like the people around you. But we dare not, for as sure as God did judge the nation Israel, so will He judge us if we do the same things.

Now, it came to pass, when I was prophesying, that [this fellow] Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah died ( Ezekiel 11:13 ).

So while he was there prophesying to them, this guy fell over dead. That's powerful preaching.

Then I fell on my face ( Ezekiel 11:13 ),

Now, it wasn't something that Ezekiel was expecting, because it shocked him.

I fell on my face, and I cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel? ( Ezekiel 11:13 )

Are you going to wipe them all out, Lord?

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, the men of your own family, and all of the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given for a possession ( Ezekiel 11:13-15 ).

They're saying that this land is ours, we are not going to be defeated; we are not going to fall.

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come ( Ezekiel 11:16 ).

God said, "I will watch over them in the lands where they've been driven. I will be to them a little sanctuary there." God will preserve His people even though they've been driven throughout the world.

Now, that of course, again, is another amazing prophecy, because though the Jews have been hated, scorned, discriminated against, perhaps more fiercely than any other nationality, yet, in spite of two thousand years without a homeland, they have continued to exist as a race of people. Nothing short of a divine miracle. There has been no other national ethnic group in the history of man that has been able to remain as a national identity for more than five generations without a homeland. If they don't have a nation that they can say, "That's our homeland," they have lost their national ethnic identity in five generations. That is why you never meet an Ammonite, a Hittite, Perizzite, or any of these other people that were once great and powerful nations. Because without a national homeland, they've lost their national ethnic identity. And yet the Jew remain because God made them a little sanctuary. God was watching over to preserve them and they remained an ethnic group, a national identity, for more than two thousand years after having been driven from their homeland in the first captivity of Nebuchadnezzar. Of course, they went back for a period of time, but then since 70 A.D. they've been driven out of the land and still to the present day, whether they be in China, whether they be in Germany, whether they be in Russia, whether they be in Yemen or Africa, or the United States, the Jew has been able to maintain his national identity because God has made them a sanctuary. And you can only explain it by that fact. Because no other nation, no other ethnic group has been able to maintain an identity. So the Lord promises to be a little sanctuary in all of the lands where they've been scattered.

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel ( Ezekiel 11:17 ).

Now this is not referring to the re-gathering after the Babylonian captivity, but is more of a reference to the present re-gathering.

And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you ( Ezekiel 11:18-19 );

Now, that has not yet been fulfilled. God is gathering them back in the land, but this new Spirit that God has promised has not yet been fulfilled. It will take place when God defeats Russia's invasion of Israel. And we'll get to that as we move on in Ezekiel chapter 39, the last verse of 39, God declares that in the day in which He is sanctified before the nations of the earth, He will again put His Spirit upon the nation of Israel. So this prophecy is relating to chapter 39 and to a day that is yet future, when God manifests Himself unto these people in such a dramatic way and He puts His Spirit upon them again.

I will give them one heart, I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh ( Ezekiel 11:19 ):

Now Paul the apostle tells us in the New Testament that blindness has happened to Israel in part until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. God's Spirit in the present time is working primarily among the Gentile nations, among you who have been called of God. Actually, among all men. Not that the Jews are excluded, because the gospel is open to all men, but there seems to be a national blindness on these people in regards to Jesus Christ. And it is interesting, I have talked to some of them who are extremely knowledgeable of the scriptures. And you wonder, when they know the scriptures so well, why is it that they do not see that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah? You wonder how they can just explain away those prophecies, Daniel chapter 9, Isaiah 53 , Psalm 22 , Zechariah chapters 11 through 12 and all. You wonder, how can they not see the truth that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah? And there can only be one explanation, and that is what Paul gave us, that there is a blindness that has happened to these people.

A couple of years ago when we were in Israel and I was speaking at a congress in which the Christians from all over the world were seeking to demonstrate to Israel our support of them as a people, I received a letter from one of the rabbis in Jerusalem. And the letter was a rebuke for my being there at that congress showing support for the nation of Israel. He said, "You have no right being here, for Israel has no right to be existing as a nation." This same rabbi had sent a letter to King Hussein in Jordan and asked the Jordanian king to annex Measharim into Jordan, because they wanted nothing to do with the modern state of Israel. They said, "Israel has no right being a state, and you as a minister have no right being here supporting the nation of Israel."

Well, I had been witnessing to these guides for quite some time and they do know the scripture quite well. And I showed them the letter and I said, "Look what one of your rabbis sent me." And they read the letter and they were horrified, because they appreciate the fact that I love Israel and had been supporting Israel. And they said, "Ah, don't pay any attention to that, Chuck, they're a bunch of religious nuts. They're radicals, you know. They don't know what they're talking about. They're just religious radicals. Don't pay any attention to that." I said, "But they're rabbis." "Ah, it doesn't make any difference. They're nuts, you know, just don't pay any attention to them." And I said, "Have you ever stopped to think that those rabbis that rejected Jesus from being the Messiah were perhaps just like them, some religious fanatics? And that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but these religious fanatics rejected Him, and here you are two thousand years later, in spite of all of the evidence, still following the religious nuts of those days." They didn't have any answer. But surely anyone looking at the evidence of prophecy and of the life of Jesus Christ must conclude that if Jesus wasn't the Messiah, there never will be a Messiah. It would be impossible for any man to come along today and prove that he was of the lineage of David. No one has his genealogy and can trace it back to David any longer. So, God is going to change their hearts, though. This stony heart is going to be turned to a heart of flesh.

Ya know, one thing about the Jewish people is that they are a very dynamic people. They're very alive. They love to sing, they love to show their feelings in dancing and in singing. And quite often over there, the bus drivers and the guides, they'll get together and they'll sit at a table and they'll start singing their Jewish, typically Jewish, songs and they really get into it. I mean it's a ya know, "Hah..." and the whole thing ya know and the dancing and they get up and they start dancing around and singing. They really get into it. And it's a lot of fun, because they are such a dynamic people. They're exciting to be around. Oh, I can hardly wait until they get turned on to Jesus Christ. With all of that excitement and all of that expression that they have when they really discover the true Messiah, what a glorious day when the heart of stone is replaced; God does a heart transplant and He puts in a heart of flesh.

That they may walk in my statutes ( Ezekiel 11:20 ),

You see, this is the thing they had failed to do and that's why the judgment was coming.

that they will keep my ordinances, and do them: that they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walks after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 11:20-21 ).

Now, at this point, these cherubims representing the glory of God and the presence of God that was once there in the temple but was lifted from the temple, out to the porch, from the porch to the east gate. Now he watches as the Spirit of God is removed even from the east gate of the temple to the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.

Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above [them]. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city [the Mount of Olives]. And afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God [back] into Chaldea [back to Babylon], to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me. Then I spake to them of the captivity all of the things that the LORD had showed me ( Ezekiel 11:22-25 ).

So, he was taken by the Spirit, went through these interesting experiences, and then brought back and shared with these people that were around him there the vision that God did give to him.

Now, it is interesting, the glory of the Lord, the last place there on the mount to the east of Jerusalem. It was on this same mountain that Jesus ascended into glory. It was on this same mountain that Jesus came in His entry to Jerusalem as the King, as the Messiah, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, "Behold, rejoice greatly, oh daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, but He is lowly, sitting on the colt, the foal of an ass" ( Zechariah 9:9 ). And it is upon this same mount that Jesus will return. As Zechariah said, "And He shall set His foot in that day on the Mount of Olives, and it will split in the middle" ( Zechariah 14:4 ), an all, and right there where he saw the glory of the Lord departing from the mountain there on the east, there is where the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ will come. And again, as He comes into Jerusalem, the glory of God's presence once more returning to the land and the beautiful restoration of God and the glorious kingdom of God when it comes.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezekiel-11.html. 2014.
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