July 10, 2015.
Daily Reading: Ezekiel 19-24.
Background: Ezekiel 13-18.
Concepts and Connections.
Lamentation for the princes of Israel: In this chapter, we are given a lament over the princes of Israel for the people to hear and lament the fall of the house of David into captivity. The house of David is compared to a lioness that brings here sons up to be fierce lions out on the prowl. Though the house was once strong, however, it would be soon brought down by the kings that warred against Israel by the hand of the Lord. Specifically, this lament is over the sons and grandsons of King Josiah, who brought about a great restoration in Judah (see II Kings 22-23). Pharaoh would kill Josiah, and the people placed Jehoahaz his son to reign in his stead. But he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and Pharaoh would put him in bonds and place Eliakim (who he would rename Jehoiakim), his brother, to reign in his place (see II Kings 23:28-37). He would reign until Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would place him in servitude. Eventually he would rebel, be killed, and Jehoiachin his son would take over, only to have Nebuchadnezzar come once again and lay siege against Jerusalem, took Jehoiachin to Babylon and placed his uncle, Mattaniah (renamed Zedekiah), as king in his stead (see II Kings 24-25). The lament found here is a prophecy of these things that would come to pass.
A history lesson from the Lord: At the onset of this chapter, we find that some of the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. When the Lord sees this, He decides to give them a history lesson. He basically says “How dare they come before Me to inquire of Me after they have went after other gods of wood and stone, and continue to do so!” Then He starts going over the history of Israel, how this had happened time and again of His people falling away from Him after He does a mighty work for them to deliver them. Over and over His anger is kindled against His people, but note that over and over His mercy is gathered and He does not make a full end of them, His people, for His name sake. Israel had had many examples of what happens when God does good for His people and also what happens when they rebel against the Lord by forsaking Him and turning to idols. Now here were the elders of Israel seeking to inquire of the Lord, but they too were following in the footsteps of their fathers, going after other Gods and worshiping wood and stone. The Lord makes it clear that He was not going to be inquired of by them, for He was against them. They would be given over to destruction. Yet, as displayed many times in the past, there would be a remnant of the people that would indeed be saved, and they would return to the Lord and He would return to them. Once again there would be a people who would be accepted by their God on His holy mountain. And they would know that He is the Lord.
The sword of the Lord: Ezekiel is given a prophecy for the people of God in this chapter depicting His wrath and destruction that was going to come on them. In this analogy, the sword of the Lord is drawn against His people and it will not be sheathed, as He was about to bring the sword on them physically. The children of Israel had provoked the Lord their God to anger by forsaking Him and turning to false gods of wood and stone, and for this betrayal, He was bringing the sword down upon them. Note the imagery of the sharpened, polished sword, along with the animation that Ezekiel is told to have, clapping his hands, crying out and wailing against the people. The Lord was going to satisfy His fury against His people for the abominations that they had committed. He tells them that He was going to bring about this destruction and captivity through the king of Babylon who would soon come against them and lay siege against Jerusalem, ruining the city. This ruin was indeed brought about by they hand of the Lord. The Ammonites are also prophesied against in the concluding paragraph of this chapter, as it seems that the children of Israel had been wrapped up in their worship and they had divined false visions for the people of God.
The transgressions of Israel: In this chapter, the Lord in essence calls the children of Israel into court as He lays out all the accusations that are brought against them. He describes their transgressions and the reasons why He is bringing His wrath upon them. Israel had acted very wickedly in the sight of the Lord and committed many abominations. They had shed blood and defiled themselves with vain idols, and for this they would be defiled amongst the nations. Israel had turned to lewd sexual acts that were abominations in the sight of the Lord. They had learned to take bribes, extort and had forgotten the Lord their God. For their transgressions, for their pursuit of dishonest gain, the Lord was going to bring the sword against them. They were going to be thrown into a furnace and melted like one would melt metal, and they would know that the Lord is God. More accusations are brought agains the children of Israel at the end of this chapter, as they took no thought of human life, defiled the holy things, had not distinguished between holy and common, clean and unclean. They had not regarded the Sabbaths, shed blood, pursued dishonest gain, seen false visions, divined lies, oppressed the poor, practiced extortion and committed robbery. For their transgressions, the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and His wrath was going to be poured out on them.
Oholah and Oholibah: In this chapter, Israel and Judah are compared to two sisters named Oholah and Oholibah, respectively, who both committed lewd acts of whoredom with the nations around them, Oholah with Assyria and Oholibah with the Babylonians. These sisters were virgins who went into these foreign lands and were there defiled in their virginity. Oholah went first, as Israel was the first of the divided kingdom to fall, and the Lord gave Oholah into the hands of her suitors, as Israel fell into captivity to Assyria. Her sister, Oholibah, was soon to follow as she too had forsaken her God. The Lord was going to give Judah into the hands of the Babylonians very soon because of their transgressions. Note the explicit imagery and detail that is given in this prophecy against Judah, how their transgressions were worthy of such lewd descriptions. Just as her sister fell into captivity because of her whoredom, so would Oholah fall into captivity and destruction. Then Ezekiel is given the task of judging Oholah and Oholibah, as the Lord set the accusations against them once again. They had committed adultery, worshipped idols, offered their children as sacrifices, defiled the sanctuary, profaned the Sabbaths and committed whoredom with the surrounding nations. They would bare the punishment for their iniquity, and know that the Lord is God.
The siege of Jerusalem and Ezekiel’s wife: This chapter is very interesting, especially in the latter potion where a vivid and tragic sign is given to the people. On this day, the king of Babylon had begun a siege against Jerusalem that would last two years and bring the city to utter ruin (see II Kings 25). Here, Judah is sent to the pot to be boiled in her corrosion as the wrath of God was poured out against His people because of the abominations they had committed. This thing was set in stone, for the Lord had decided it and He was not going to relent from His anger. Then Ezekiel was given a tragic sign to show to the people, for the Lord was about to take the desire of his eyes from him and he was not to show any outward signs of mourning. Ezekiel’s wife died, and he did as he was commanded, getting up and going about his day as if nothing happened. When the people saw this, they were perplexed and asked why he was not in mourning. This was a sign to them, for their desire was about to be taken away as well, as Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Yet they were not to mourn over her. They had been told by the Lord, and they would know that the Lord is God. They were given this sign, and when they saw it come to pass just as Ezekiel had said, they would know that the Lord is God.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 17-18.