June 26, 2015.
Daily Reading: Ezekiel 7-12.
Background: Ezekiel 1-6.
Concepts and Connections.
Prophecy of the Lord’s wrath: Chapter seven opens with a message from the Lord to the land of Israel: the wrath of the Lord has come upon you. The people of God had been judged for their abominations and the anger of the Lord was kindled against them. This chapter is filled with destruction and doom as a punishment for the sins of the people, as sword, pestilence and famine were going to come upon them. They had turned their back on their God, and He was doing the same. Notice that in the end, their silver and gold would not be able to deliver them. The people of God had turned to materialism and pride, but no amount of self confidence would deliver them from the wrath of the Lord. The concluding paragraph of this oracle (v. 23-27) makes for a good summery of the whole: Israel and Judah had committed abominable crimes, they were judged for their own iniquities and the wrath of the Lord would be poured out on them through destruction and captivity. In that day they would seek peace, but there would be none.
Abominations in the temple: The evidence for the accusation that had been brought against the people of God is explicitly shown to Ezekiel in this vision. The prophet is called and taken into Jerusalem where the abominations of the people were being committed. He is shown their image of jealousy, driving the Lord from the sanctuary. Then he is shown greater abominations, the worship of idols and creatures enacted by the elders of the house of Israel claiming that God cannot see them. But there were even still greater abominations that Ezekiel would be shown greater, women weeping for Tammuz, a Mesopotamian god. And if all this were not enough, he was finally taken into the house of the Lord to see men with their backs towards the temple and their faces towards the east, worshiping the sun, probably the sun god of nations of the east. It is for these grievances and beyond that the wrath of the Lord was being brought upon His people. They had been judged according to their own choices.
Consequences for idolatry: This vision is symbolic of the execution of the people of God due to their sin. Notice the emphasis placed on the individual, giving all those who groan against the idols and abominations that the majority of the people partook in a mark that would save them from the executioner. This is reminiscent of the passover that initiated the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt, as there was a mark/sign given for the people to put on their doorpost so that the angel of death would passover their house leaving their firstborn alive (see Exodus 12). As the executioners are sent out, Ezekiel cries to the Lord, asking Him if He was going to destroy the remnant in His outpouring of wrath. Their guilt had been brought upon them, and the Lord had executed His judgment on the people. The decision was made.
A glorious scene: This vision sets up the scene in which the message will be given to Ezekiel in the next chapter. Once again, Ezekiel describes what he sees in great detail here, and the scene is quite similar to his inaugural vision as he sees the same living creatures as he did in the first chapter (see Ezekiel 1 for more details). The glory of the Lord is depicted here as taking fire from between the wheels of the cherubim and exiting the house of the Lord, possibly to symbolize the coming of the wrath of the Lord that was about to be poured out on the people of Israel who committed abominations in His sight.
1. Judgement: Continuing on the vision that was started in the previous chapter, Ezekiel is taken up to see the 25 men who devise iniquity and give wicked counsel to the people of Jerusalem and he is called to prophesy against them, telling them that their word is incorrect and they are given unwise counsel. The Lord lays out their wickedness and delivers the actual message of the coming destruction, and as Ezekiel is prophesying, one of the wicked counselors, Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, falls down dead. It seems that this shocked Ezekiel, for he falls on his face and asks the Lord (again, see chapter 12) if He is going to utterly destroy the remnant of Israel. There is, however, a seed of hope in the Lord’s answer.
2. Hope: The people of Israel had brought judgement and destruction upon themselves, and the Lord had scattered them throughout the nations in captivity. There was, however, hope. There was hope because the Lord, though He had scattered the people, would eventually bring them back to Israel, saving the remnant that is so often mentioned in prophecy. At that time they would discard their idols and abominations and turn their hearts to the Lord. In fact, He would remove their stubborn heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh and an new spirit inside of them. He would once again be their God. Note that this promise was only to them who turned to God and not to the ones who continued to go after the abominations for which they were being punished, again placing responsibility and emphasis on individual choice. With this, Ezekiel’s vision is completed and he tells the exiles he is with everything that he had seen.
Prophecy of captivity: Once again, Ezekiel is called here to live out a symbol for the prophecy of captivity that the Lord was about to bring on His people because of their abominations. He is told to prepare an exile’s baggage and go throughout the house of a rebellious people, that perhaps they might see and understand what is about to come upon them from the Lord. Everywhere he went he was to carry the baggage upon his shoulder to warn the people, for the Babylonians were about to come against Jerusalem, and set siege to it, exiling the people after the city was destroyed (see II Kings 25). Terrible times of anxiety lie ahead for the people of Judah. But it seems that some had grown tired of Ezekiel’s prophecies, saying that they never come true. Instead of listening to the prophecy, they denied it. The Lord was displeased at this saying, sending Ezekiel to the people to let them know for sure that these things were surly going to come to pass soon, destroying the false proverb of the people. The time of the wrath of the Lord had come.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 13-14.
Prepare yourself while it is yet day.