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Jerusalem’s Destruction Impending
In chapters 12 to 16 we have another series of prophetic messages, all having to do with the predicted destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people of Judah. Though so long-suffering, God could no longer condone the wickedness of Judah, so there was nothing to do but to carry out His judgments against the people whom He loved so tenderly, but who had shown such utter indifference to His holy will. Zedekiah, to whom Jeremiah had witnessed so faithfully, had given no evidence whatever of repentance, and so he who sat upon the throne of Jehovah (Jeremiah 29:21) was doomed, not only to be degraded from his royal estate but also to go sightless down to Babylon as a subject-vassal of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the first part of this chapter Ezekiel was commanded to gain the attention of his fellow-captives by acting out the departure from Jerusalem.
“The word of Jehovah also came unto me, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of the rebellious house, that have eyes to see, and see not, that have ears to hear, and hear not; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they are a rebellious house. And thou shalt bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing; and thou shalt go forth thyself at even in their sight, as when men go forth into exile. Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby. In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulder, and carry it forth in the dark; thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the land: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel. And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for removing, and in the even I digged through the wall with my hand; I brought it forth in the dark, and bare it upon my shoulder in their sight”-vers. 1-7.
Though a man of God, Ezekiel himself dwelt in the midst of a rebellious people who did not use their eyes to see nor their ears to hear, but persisted in the path of folly and self-will. Ezekiel was commanded to prepare his goods for removing; that is, he was to pack up everything as though he were getting ready to leave his present place of abode; then as night drew on he was to remove to a new location, but furtively, as we are told, as men go forth into exile. Instead of passing through the gate of the enclosure in which he dwelt, he was commanded to dig through the wall and carry out his goods through the breach that was made. His face was to be covered that he might not see the land, for he was intended to be a sign unto the house of Israel, picturing to them the condition of the thousands of Judah who would seek to flee from the Chaldeans, only to be captured by them and led away into the stranger’s land.
The prophet did as he was commanded and went forth in the dark, bearing his goods upon his shoulder, in the sight of the people who doubtless looked on curiously.
“And in the morning came the word of Jehovah unto me, saying, Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house said unto thee, What doest thou? Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel among whom they are. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them; they shall go into exile, into captivity. And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the dark, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, because he shall not see the land with his eyes. My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in My snare; and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all that are round about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall disperse them among the nations, and scatter them through the countries. But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the nations whither they come; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”-vers. 8-16.
The day following the acted parable of the previous verses the word of Jehovah again came to Ezekiel, inquiring what impression his actions had made upon the rebellious house of Israel. Had they asked him, “What doest thou?” he was to make known unto them the burden of Jehovah concerning Zedekiah, the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel who still remained in the land. He was to explain that he himself was their sign; that as he had done, so should it be done unto them. They were all doomed to go into exile. Even the prince himself, that is, King Zedekiah, would endeavor to escape from the city, bearing a few of his possessions upon his shoulder even as one of the common people. In his effort to thwart the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar to take him captive he would flee in the dark after digging through the wall, and would seek to save his life by becoming a fugitive and hiding in some almost inaccessible place. Nevertheless he would be taken captive, and as a bird in a snare, he would be brought to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans. But he was destined never to see that land even though he was to dwell in it for a number of years, un- til finally death released him. This prophecy had its terrible fulfilment, as we know, when his two sons were slain before his eyes, after which those eyes were put out, so that the last memory he had of things seen would be the death of his children.
Following in the wake of the king’s captivity would come the scattering of Judah throughout all the lands of earth; nor would this complete their judgment, for wherever they went God Himself would draw out the sword after them, and they would learn through experiences of deepest grief and sorrow the folly of having forsaken the Lord God. Dispersed among the nations and scattered throughout the countries they would remain a separated people, against whom the bitter enmity of their neighbors would burn.
A few of them, nevertheless, would be saved from the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, that they might declare, or acknowledge, all their abominations among the nations whither they came; thus they should know that they had to do with Jehovah.
“Moreover the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with tearfulness; and say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the land of Israel: They shall eat their bread with fearfulness, and drink their water in dismay, that her land may be desolate, and despoiled of all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein. And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be a desolation; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah”-vers. 17-20.
Thus Ezekiel would continue to be a sign unto the people. In accordance with the word of the Lord, he ate his bread with quaking, and drank his water with trembling and with fearfulness. In this way he was to picture the unhappy conditions under which the people of Judah would live when carried away from their own land after their cities had been laid waste and the land itself become a desolation.
In imminent fear of their lives, never knowing from one day to another what new calamity might come upon them, the unhappy captives would be in constant dread because of the violence of their enemies. Not only during the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s sway, but also down through all the centuries since has this been the unhappy portion of the nation of Israel. Never fully at home anywhere, they have lived in continual fear and uncertainty, and all because they knew not the time of their visitation.
For many years God’s prophets had been warning the people of the dire calamities that would come upon them if they persisted in refusing to obey the word of Jehovah, but they had spurned these testimonies and mistreated the messengers. Because sentence against their evil ways was not immediately executed they put off from them the day of reckoning, hoping that it might never come in their time. Of this we next read:
“And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is this proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the fulfilment of every vision. For there shall be no more any false vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am Jehovah; I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall be performed; it shall be no more deferred: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I speak the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 21-25.
The majority of the people of Israel and Judah were of the same spirit as those of our own time, who, when they hear the truth that the Lord Jesus is to return again, cry out in derision, “Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4). So those of old said, “The days” (that is, the days in which God was waiting in mercy ere visiting judgment upon His people) “are prolonged, and every vision faileth.” They did not look for the prophet’s visions to materialize, but God’s word came, saying, “I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel”; for contrary to what they had said, the days were at hand, and every vision of judgment was about to be fulfilled. Moreover, the false prophets were to be cut off in Jehovah’s anger; there should be no more any false vision nor flattering divination. God’s word alone should stand. He had spoken, and His word should be performed, nor should the predicted doom be longer deferred. In their days, He declared, He would give the final commandment that would bring down the judgment upon that rebellious house.
“Again the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of times that are afar off. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: There shall none of My words be deferred any more, but the word which I shall speak shall be performed, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 26-28.
A second time Jehovah gave the same message through His servant. Even though He had spoken so definitely, in their folly and unbelief the house of Israel continued to say, “The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of times that are far off.” With a foolhardy optimism they put away the evil day, and went on carelessly in their sin and ungodliness, thinking they would escape the predicted judgments, and that if they came at all they would fall upon a future generation. But God declared that none of His words should be deferred any more; that which He had spoken was now to be performed immediately, and thus the people would know that they had to do with a God who never calls back His words.
We may also see in all this a picture of that which prevails in Christendom at the present time. While the Scriptures clearly indicate the fact that we are living in the closing days of this dispensation, the professing Church, with very few exceptions, has settled down complacently in the world, and its leaders endeavor to make the people believe that those who talk of judgment beginning at the house of God are misguided fanatics, and that conditions were never better than those that now prevail. Yet the Word of God declares that, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37); for as corruption and violence filled the antediluvian world, so we see corruption and violence on every hand today, and in the Church itself the characteristics of the last days, as depicted in 2 Timothy 3:0, are everywhere prevalent.
Oh, that we might have eyes to see and ears to hear, to understand the signs of the times and take heed to the Word of the Lord.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
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