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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Ezekiel 5

Verses 1-17

Chapter Five

Threatenings Of Providential Judgments

A fourth object lesson opens the present chapter, the illustration of the sharp sword used as a barber’s razor.

“And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp sword; as a barber’s razor shalt thou take it unto thee, and shalt cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. A third part shalt thou burn in the fire in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled; and thou shalt take a third part, and smite with the sword round about it; and a third part thou shalt scatter to the wind, and I will draw out a sword after them. And thou shalt take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. And of these again shalt thou take, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; therefrom shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel”-vers. 1-4.

The sharp sword was a readily understood symbol of bloody warfare and told of the ruthless and victorious Chaldean armies which God in His providential judgment had permitted to overrun the land of Judah, and against which the people of Israel had no power to stand because of their apostate condition.

Using this keen-edged sword as one would use a barber’s razor, the prophet was to shave off the hair of his head and his beard, and he was then instructed to divide the hairs into three parts, one part to be burned in fire, another to be smitten by the sword, and the third part to be scattered to the wind, thus typify- ing or illustrating what should befall the Jews because of their rebellion against God. One third were to be destroyed in the siege of Jerusalem, another third mercilessly cut down by Nebuchadnezzar’s cohorts, and the rest to be scattered over the earth among all nations, according as they had been warned many times before. But a small remnant would be preserved even in the hour of Jehovah’s indignation, because they sought His face and kept His testimonies. These were pictured by the few hairs reserved and bound in the skirt of the prophet’s mantle, but even these were cast into the midst of the fire afterwards, for the righteous in Israel have had to suffer with the unrighteous during the long years of their exile from the land. All this is made clear in the verses that follow:

“Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations, and countries that are round about her. And she hath rebelled against Mine ordinances in doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are round about her; for they have rejected Mine ordinances, and as for My statutes, they have not walked in them. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because ye are turbulent more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in My statutes, neither have kept Mine ordinances, neither have done after the ordinances of the nations that are round about you; therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I, even I, am against thee; and I will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments on thee; and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter unto all the winds. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely, because thou hast defiled My sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall Mine eye spare, and I also will have no pity. A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and a third part I will scatter unto all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them”-vers. 5-12.

Jerusalem, the city where Jehovah had set His name and which was designated the holy city, had gone so far from God, following the ways of the heathen who knew Him not, that she had become as a stench in His nostrils and an abhorrence instead of a delight. Jerusalem was guiltier far than those nations, because they had never been favored with such knowledge as Israel. They worshipped idols because they knew not the one true and living God. Israel knew Him but forsook Him, spurned the holy law He had given, and ignored the entreaties of His prophets; consequently, He whom they had repudiated could deal with them only in judgment. He who loved them so tenderly had to become as their enemy. They must learn in suffering and anguish the bitterness of departure from His testimonies and from obedience to Him who had redeemed them from bondage and had borne with their manners for so long. Now his patience was at an end, and judgment must take its course. His eye would no longer spare nor His heart pity. They must eat the bitter fruit of the seed they had sown. It is a solemn instance of the principle that runs all through Scripture, which shows that whatsoever is sown must be reaped.

“Thus shall Mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause My wrath toward them to rest, and I shall be comforted: and they shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken in My zeal, when I have accomplished My wrath upon them. Moreover I will make thee a desolation and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment, unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments on thee in anger and in wrath, and in wrathful rebukes (I, Jehovah, have spoken it); when I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, that are for destruction, which I will send to destroy you. And I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread; and I will send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee: I, Jehovah, have spoken it”-vers. 13-17.

Thus Jerusalem not only would be punished for her own sins, but also she would become an object lesson to the nations roundabout, giving them to see that sin always brings trouble and sorrow, and that only as nations walk before God in righteousness will they have His approval and blessing. Israel is today such an object lesson to the whole world if men but have eyes to see and hearts to understand.

Though God must deal with sin in His people, He never gives them up. Israel is still His by covenant, and in a coming day He will draw the remnant back to Himself and comfort them in their affliction. He will not keep His anger forever, but when they turn to Him in repentance He will own them once more as His elect and bring them again into blessing even greater than they have known in the past. Meantime, they are destined to be a desolation and a reproach among the nations as they have been for some twenty-five centuries of sad and awful affliction.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.