Ezekiel: ‘They shall know that I am God’

The *Sin of Judah and the Judgement of God

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Ezekiel chapters 1 to 24

www.easyenglish.info

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

About this book

1. History

After the death of King Solomon, the *Israelite nation became divided. 10 of the 12 *tribes set up a separate country with their own kings. These 10 northern *tribes *turned away from the *Lord their God. After several centuries, God sent the nation called Assyria to fight against them. In the year 722 *BC the 10 *tribes went into *exile in Assyria.

At that time, God did not remove the two southern *tribes. These two *tribes formed the nation called Judah. But during the next 100 years, the people in Judah became very evil. They became as bad as the 10 *tribes, or even worse.

Ezekiel does refer to Judah as *Israelites. During Ezekiel’s life, Judah was all that remained of the original nation called *Israel. But some of the *prophecies in the book are for all the *Israelites.

The agreement that God made with *Israel warned the people. It said that the people must obey God. If they did not obey, God would send them into *exile among the nations. This happened to the 10 *tribes. It would soon happen to the people who lived in Judah.

In the year 598 *BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Judah. After three months, the new king of Judah, Jehoiachin, handed over the city called Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar.

In the year 597 *BC, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin, his family and the leaders of the people to Babylon. Among these was a priest, Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah, who was the uncle of Jehoiachin, king in Jerusalem.

Zedekiah was not loyal to the king of Babylon. So, the *Babylonians destroyed the cities in Judah. Then in the year 586 *BC, they destroyed Jerusalem. The *Babylonians killed most of the people in Jerusalem. But they took some people to Babylon.

2. Ezekiel the *prophet

All that we know about Ezekiel is in this book. His name means ‘God gives strength.’ Ezekiel was born in the year 627 *BC. He was a priest, the son of Buzi the priest. He belonged to the family of Zadok, who was a famous priest. Ezekiel went into *exile at the same time as King Jehoiachin in the year 597 *BC. Ezekiel lived with other *exiles at the river called Chebar. His home was in Tel-Abib town. His wife died in the 9th year of his *exile.

The book is full of personal experiences:

·  Ezekiel shut himself in his home and bound himself. The *Lord made him dumb – Ezekiel 3:24-26.

·  God told Ezekiel to lie on his right side and then on his left side for 430 days – Ezekiel 4:4-8.

·  God put a limit on Ezekiel’s food and drink during that period. And Ezekiel obeyed – Ezekiel 4:12.

·  Ezekiel had to shave his head and his beard – Ezekiel 5:1.

·  God did not permit Ezekiel to be sad at the death of his wife – Ezekiel 24:15-24.

·  Ezekiel lost his speech – Ezekiel 24:27.

God intended Ezekiel to give a message to *Israel by means of the experiences in his life – Ezekiel 24:24.

Ezekiel lived at the same time as Jeremiah the *prophet. But Ezekiel does not mention Jeremiah. Jeremiah was still in Judah while Ezekiel was with the *exiles.

Ezekiel’s first *prophecy was in the year 593 *BC and he continued to *prophesy for about 20 years. Ezekiel dates his last message as in the year 571 *BC. Through the book, he is careful to date each message. He spoke to the *exiles from Judah who lived with him near the river Chebar.

The first part of the book (chapters 1-24) deals with the failure of God’s people. Ezekiel tells how God will punish them. He tells the *exiles that God will destroy Jerusalem. When this had happened, he changes his message. Then he tells about the punishment of the nations (chapters 25-32). Chapters 33-39 look forward to the future. These chapters describe the return of the people from *Israel to their country. The last part of the book (chapters 40-48) describes the future *temple. And the *tribes of *Israel will divide the country in a new way.

3. The shape of the book of Ezekiel

Part One

The *Sin of Judah and the Judgement of God

1:1-24:27

Part Two

Punishment of the Nations

25:1-33:20

Part Three

God will bring *Israel back to their Country

33:21-39:29

Part Four

The Future *Temple and *Sacrifices

40:1-48:35

 

Part One

The *Sin of Judah and the Judgement of God – Ezekiel 1:1-24:27

The *vision of the *glory of God

1:1-28

The *Lord tells Ezekiel what he must do

2:1-3:27

The *Lord will destroy Jerusalem

4:1-5:17

Enemies will destroy the country called Judah

6:1-7:27

The *Israelites and their false gods

8:1-18

Judgement on Jerusalem and God’s *glory leaves

9:1-11:25

The *Lord’s reply to the *exiles

12:1-19:14

*Prophecies of *disaster for Judah

20:1-24:27

Part Two

Punishment of the Nations – Ezekiel 25:1-33:20

Punishment of the countries near Judah

25:1-17

Punishment of Tyre and Sidon

26:1-28:24

God will bring his people back to *Israel

28:25-26

Punishment of Egypt

29:1-33:20

Part Three

God will bring *Israel back to their Country – Ezekiel 33:21-39:29

The country that God promised to *Israel

33:21-33

True and false leaders

34:1-31

The *Lord will cure the country

35:1-36:15

*Israel returns to the country

36:16-37:28

Defeat of those who attack the country

38:1-39:29

Part Four

The Future *Temple and *Sacrifices – Ezekiel 40:1-48:35

Plan of the new *temple

40:1-43:27

Priests and *sacrifices

44:1-46:24

*Israel’s new country

47:1-48:29

The city with 12 gates

48:30-35

 

 

 

Part One – Ezekiel 1:1 to 24:27

The *Sin of Judah and the Judgement of God

The *vision of the *glory of God – Ezekiel 1:1-28

·  This was a very special experience for Ezekiel. He felt the power of God. He saw the special *angels called *cherubim. He saw God’s *throne. He even saw an impression of God’s *glory. And then God spoke to Ezekiel.

Chapter 1

The time and the place of the *vision – Ezekiel 1:1-3

v1 I was among the *exiles by the River Chebar. It was the 30th year. On the 5th day of the 4th month, the skies opened and I saw *visions of God.

v2-3 On the 5th day of the month, the *LORD spoke to Ezekiel. (This was the 5th year of the *exile of King Jehoiachin). Ezekiel was a priest, the son of Buzi. He was by the River Chebar in the country of the *Chaldeans. And there he felt the power of the *LORD come upon him.

Verse 1 Ezekiel was one of the *exiles from Jerusalem. He was here with other *exiles by the River Chebar. The *Babylonians knew this river as the Grand Canal. It flowed south and east from the river Euphrates at Babylon. It was deep and wide enough for large boats. They carried goods to and from Babylon. The river also provided water for use on the farms. Ezekiel’s home was in Tel-abib, which was near this river.

‘It was the 30th year.’ The 30th year probably refers to Ezekiel’s age. He was the son of Buzi, a *temple priest. Ezekiel would have become a priest at the age of 30. But he went into *exile before he could begin to work as a priest in Jerusalem. So, he received his first *vision at the date that he qualified to be a priest. It was the 5th year during the *exile of King Jehoiachin. The *exile began in 597 *BC, so this was 593 *BC. This means that Ezekiel was born in the year 623 *BC.

Ezekiel saw these *visions on the 5th day of the 4th month. The 4th month would be, for us, June or July. It seemed that ‘the skies opened’. In other words, it was as if Ezekiel could see beyond the skies. He ‘saw *visions of God’. God gave Ezekiel a glimpse of his (God’s) *glory.

Verses 2-3 King Jehoiachin was still the proper king of Judah. But the *Babylonians took him into *exile in 593 *BC. Zedekiah ruled over Judah instead of Jehoiachin. This was the 5th year during that *exile.

God spoke to Ezekiel as he (God) would do many more times in this book. Ezekiel was aware of God. He felt the power of God upon him.

The country of the *Chaldeans was the southern part of the country called Babylon.

*Vision of the *cherubim – Ezekiel 1:4-14

v4 As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north. There was a great cloud with a bright light about it. There were continuous flashes of lightning. The middle of the lightning was like metal that glowed. v5 In the cloud there seemed to be 4 *creatures. They were alive and their form seemed like that of men. v6 Each of them had 4 faces and 4 wings. v7 Their legs were straight. Their feet were like those of a young cow. These feet shone like *bronze that someone has polished. v8 Under their wings on their 4 sides, they had human hands. All 4 of them had faces and wings. v9 And their wings touched each other. The 4 *creatures did not turn when they moved. Each one went straight ahead.

v10 The *creatures had 4 faces. Each of the 4 *creatures had the face of a man. On the right side, they each had the face of a lion. And on the left side, they had the face of an *ox. Also, they each had the face of an *eagle. v11 That was what their faces were like. They each spread two wings above them. These wings touched the wings of the *creatures on either side. They also had two wings that covered their bodies. v12 Each of them went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go. They did not turn as they went. v13 The *creatures seemed like coals that burn on a fire or like lamps of flames. Fire went up and down between the *creatures. The fire was bright, and lightning came out of the fire. v14 The *creatures moved about quickly like flashes of lightning.

Verse 4 In the *vision, Ezekiel records the stormy wind that comes from the north. The *glory of the *Lord came from that direction. The cloud hid the complete *glory of God. The bright lights showed something of that *glory as it shone through the cloud. The glowing ‘metal’ was the *creatures and the *throne as they approached.

Verses 5-7 Ezekiel then saw the 4 *creatures in the cloud. He describes these *creatures. He records that their shape seemed like the shape of men. But each *creature had 4 faces and 4 wings. And each *creature had two legs like a man; but the feet were like the feet of a cow.

These 4 *creatures reflect the power of God. The 4 faces of each of the *creatures look in all directions. This is to show that God has power over the whole earth. They carry the *throne of God.

Verses 8-11 These *creatures are the *cherubim. Their task is to show that God is holy. They have hands like the hands of a man. The hands show that they are strong. And, that they can work. They are the servants of God. They go where he orders. They do what he tells them.

Each of them has 4 faces. They each have the face of a man, of a lion, of an *ox and of an *eagle. These faces are in the same order on each *cherub. The human face is to the front. The lion face is to the right. The *ox face is to the left. The *eagle face is at the back. Of all the animals on earth, men and women are superior. The lion is the king of the wild animals. The *ox is the best of the animals that farmers keep. The *eagle is the leader among the birds of the air. These faces are an expression of the power of God in all that he has made.

The face of a man shows that the *cherubim are intelligent. The face of a lion shows that they are very strong and powerful. The face of an *ox shows that they are patient. They are servants of God. The face of the *eagle shows how quick they can be. They immediately do what God wants. And there is no delay.

Each *cherub has two pairs of wings. The upper pair stretches out to touch the wings of two other *cherubs. They moved in the form of a square so that each one touched two other *cherubs. When they moved they were all in perfect unity. Their other pairs of wings covered their bodies.

Verse 12 The *cherubim could move in any direction but they did not turn. Their human faces were toward each of north, south, east and west. As they went, they did not need to turn. The Spirit of God controlled the *cherubim. They went as he directed.

Verses 13-14 The fire was in the middle of the *cherubim. So, Ezekiel saw the bright light and the flames of a fire. The fire was so bright that flashes of lightning came from it. The *cherubim moved at the speed of lightning.

*Vision of the wheels – Ezekiel 1:15-25

v15 I looked at the 4 *creatures that had the 4 faces. And I saw a wheel on the ground by each *creature. v16 All 4 wheels had the same design. They shone with the colour of *beryl. Each wheel seemed to have a wheel inside it. v17 When they moved, they went in any direction. But they did not turn as they went. v18 The edges of the wheels were high and terrible. And they were full of eyes all round them.

v19 When the *creatures moved, the wheels moved with them. And when the *creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. v20 Where the spirit went, the *creatures went. The wheels rose and went with them. This was because the spirit of the *creatures was in the wheels. v21 When the *creatures moved, the wheels also moved. When the *creatures stood still, the wheels also stood still. And when the *creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose with them. This was because the spirit of the *creatures was in the wheels.

v22 What seemed to be a cover was above the heads of the *creatures. It shone like light through ice and it was terrible. v23 Under the cover, the *creatures stretched their wings out, each one toward the next. Each *creature also had two wings to cover its body. v24 When the *creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings. It sounded like the roar of the sea. It was like the voice of the God of all power. It was like the noise of a large army. When the *creatures stood still, they lowered their wings.

v25 Then a voice came from the cover that was over their heads. They stood still and lowered their wings.

Verse 15 There was a high wheel by each of the 4 *creatures. The 4 wheels were the same. Ezekiel saw this vehicle, which carried the *throne of God. Above the 4 wheels were the 4 *creatures. The 4 *creatures carried the *throne.

Verse 16 Each wheel seemed to have a wheel inside a wheel. In other words, each wheel had another one across its centre. The wheels shone with the colour of *beryl. *Beryl was a precious stone that may have been a pale green colour.

Verse 17 The vehicle did not travel on the ground but through the air. So, the wheels were not there to move the vehicle. It moved in all directions but the wheels did not turn.

Verse 18 A wooden wheel would have heavy nails in the edge that touched the road. These were for strength so that the edge of the wheel would not wear out quickly. Ezekiel saw that, instead of nails, there were eyes all round the edge of the wheels. There were many eyes. They looked in all directions. They could see all things. We can hide nothing from God. He sees and knows everything.

Verses 19-21 The *cherubim had control of the wheels. When the *cherubim moved, the wheels had to go with them. The Spirit of God had control of the *cherubim. Where the Spirit went, the *cherubim had to go.

Verse 22 The cover above the *cherubim was a platform for the *throne. From below, the cover was like the sky. Light shone through it as light through ice or a precious stone.

Verses 23-25 The *cherubim had 4 wings each. With two, they stretched out to the next *cherub. With the other two, they covered their bodies. When they moved, the noise of their wings was loud. Ezekiel describes that noise in three ways. It was like the sound of the sea. It was like the voice of God. And it was like sound of a large army.

The sea moves with a force that nobody can oppose. The waves crash in and out. They come and go. And nobody can stop them.

Like the noise of a storm is the voice of God. The power of God as he speaks is awful. It would make the bravest person afraid.

The sound of a large army ready for battle brings fear into the heart of a man.

God spoke. The *cherubim stood still and lowered their wings.

*Vision of the *throne – Ezekiel 1:26-28

v26 Above the cover, there seemed to be a *throne. The impression of the *throne was that of a *sapphire stone. The person on the *throne had a figure like that of a man. v27 Then I saw that, from the middle up, his body glowed like metal with fire inside. From the middle down, he seemed like fire. A bright light surrounded him. v28 The light was like a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day. It was splendid and bright. It seemed as if it were the *glory of the *LORD. So, I fell down with my face to the ground. And then I heard a voice that spoke to me.

Verse 26 Above the cover, Ezekiel saw something that was like a *throne. It shone like a *sapphire and it was bright blue.

On the *throne, there was a person. In form, he was like a man. But he was not a man. God shows himself here in a form similar to a man.

Verse 27 The effect of the *vision hid God from direct view. The lower part of the figure glowed as with fire. The upper part glowed with an inner light. It had a colour like metal, when it glows in a fire. There was a bright light that shone with many colours round the *throne.

Verse 28 The light was like the colours of the rainbow. All this light reflected the *glory of God. The whole *vision showed the *glory of God.

Ezekiel felt that he was standing there in front of God. The sight was so magnificent that he fell down. Clearly, he was full of fear. Nobody can see God and live. Ezekiel did not see God himself. Here was an impression of the character and *glory of God.

This *vision of the *Lord was to prepare Ezekiel for the work that he had to do. Then God spoke to him.

The *Lord tells Ezekiel what he must do – Ezekiel 2:1-3:27

·  God told Ezekiel that he (Ezekiel) would have to obey him (God) completely. The people were already opposing God. So, they would oppose Ezekiel when he told them God’s message. But Ezekiel still had a duty to declare God’s message. God was giving the people one more opportunity to obey him.

Chapter 2

The *Lord sends Ezekiel to the *Israelites – Ezekiel 2:1-7 

v1 He said to me, ‘*Son of man, stand up on your feet. And I will speak with you.’ v2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit came into me. He lifted me up on my feet. And I heard the *Lord as he spoke to me.

v3 He said, ‘*Son of man, I am sending you to the *Israelites. As a nation, they have *turned against me. They and their fathers have done wrong things against me. Even now, they are still against me. v4 I am sending you to people who oppose me. They refuse to obey me. Say to them, “The *LORD your King says this to you.” v5 They may listen, or they may not listen. They are people who have *turned against me. But they will know that a *prophet has been among them. v6 And you, *son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. They may surround you like *thorn bushes. And you may feel as if you live with *scorpions. But do not be afraid of what they say. Do not let the anger on their faces frighten you. They are a people who have *turned against me. v7 But speak my words to them. They may listen. But they may not listen because they *turn against me.’

Verses 1-2 Ezekiel was face down on the ground. The *vision that he saw was too wonderful for him. It filled him with terror and fear. No human person could continue to stand when the *glory of God was shining all round.

The voice told him to get up on his feet. But he did not have the strength to do so. The Spirit of God came into him. The Spirit took hold of him and lifted him up. He stood in front of the *vision of God’s *glory. Then he was ready to hear what the voice would say to him.

The voice was the voice of him who sat on the *throne. That is, the *Lord God spoke to Ezekiel. God called him ‘*son of man’ and this title appears 90 times in this book. This title would remind Ezekiel that he was a mere man. He would be so aware of his weakness as the *Lord God spoke to him. He would have to depend on the Spirit to make him strong. Only then could he do what God told him to do.

Verses 3-4 God said to Ezekiel, ‘I am sending you.’ Ezekiel is to be God’s agent to the people. God gives him his authority for the task. He must go to his own people. He must tell them what God says.

The *Israelite nation had not been loyal to God. Through their history, this nation had neglected to obey God. God had sent his servants to warn the people about their behaviour. But most people had opposed God’s message. And those who were alive were no better. They still refused to obey God. Worse than this, they had *turned to other gods. The *Israelites had become enemies of their God.

God sent Ezekiel to speak his messages to them.

Verse 5 Ezekiel had to go and speak to the people on behalf of God. It did not matter whether they listened or not. He still had to speak the words of God to them. This would be hard since the people had *turned away from God. But Ezekiel was to speak to them with God’s authority.

‘They may listen, or they may not listen.’ But it will be clear to them that Ezekiel speaks the words of God. They will have no excuse. They will know that Ezekiel is a *prophet. And they will know that God sent him.

Verses 6-7 When Ezekiel speaks, some of the people will be angry. They may reply with cruel words. They may be fierce and do awful things. But Ezekiel must not be afraid of them.

*Thorns cut into the skin. *Scorpions sting and their sting contains poison. The cuts and stings are pictures in words of things that hurt. Even if he suffers pain, Ezekiel must not be afraid. He must not be afraid, whatever the people may do. This is a command of God to Ezekiel.

The people may oppose him. They may refuse to listen. They may attack him. But Ezekiel must obey God and speak his words to them.

A *scroll with the message on it – Ezekiel 2:8-10

v8 ‘But you, *son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not *turn against me as those people do. Open your mouth! Eat what I am giving to you!’

v9 Then I looked. I saw a hand that reached out toward me. And in the hand was a *scroll. v10 The hand opened the *scroll. It had words on the front and on the back. It contained funeral songs, sad words and words about troubles.

Verse 8 Ezekiel had to hear what God said to him. He had to understand the message that God gave to him. God told Ezekiel to eat what he gave to him. This action had a special meaning. When we eat, the food becomes part of us. God’s words were to become part of Ezekiel’s life.

Verse 9 The *Lord gave Ezekiel the *scroll, which he had to eat. He saw the hand come towards him. We do not know whether this was the hand of God or the hand of a *cherub. But the hand held out the *scroll to Ezekiel.

Verse 10 In those days, people wrote books on skins of animals. They rolled up the book and it was a *scroll. Usually they would only write on one side of the skins. But here there were words on both sides of the *scroll.

The hand spread out the *scroll. Ezekiel could see what was in it. He may not have read the *scroll. But he saw that in it there were funeral songs, sad words and words about troubles. The first 32 chapters of this book are full of these. But the later chapters show a brighter (happier) future for the *Israelites.

Chapter 3

Ezekiel eats the *scroll – Ezekiel 3:1-3

v1 Then the *Lord said to me, ‘*Son of man. Eat what is in front of you. Eat this *scroll. Then go and speak to the *Israelites.’ v2 So, I opened my mouth, and he gave the *scroll to me to eat.

v3 He said to me, ‘*Son of man. Eat the *scroll that I give to you. Fill your stomach with it.’ Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.

Verses 1-3 The *Lord gave the *scroll to Ezekiel for him to eat it. This action had a special meaning. Ezekiel had to know the message before he could speak it. So, he had to eat the *scroll (accept the message) in preparation for his work. The message in the *scroll was a difficult one. But his task was to speak that message to the *Israelites.

Ezekiel obeyed God and he opened his mouth. He ate the *scroll. He swallowed it and he took it into his stomach. It became part of him. The message in the *scroll was bad. But as he ate it, it had a sweet taste. It was like the taste of honey.

Ezekiel would have many enemies. And people would refuse what he said. But it is a pleasure to serve God. And that pleasure would be greater then those problems. A task may be hard or painful. But it is a joy to do what God wants.

Instructions to Ezekiel – Ezekiel 3:4-11

v4 Then he said to me, ‘*Son of man. Now go to the *Israelites and speak my words to them. v5 I do not send you to a nation with strange words and a difficult language. I send you to the *Israelites. v6 I do not send you to many nations with their strange words and difficult languages. You would not understand what they say. But, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. v7 But the *Israelites will not listen to you. They will not even listen to me. All the *Israelites are *stubborn and they will not obey. v8 But I will make you as strong in mind and as hard as they are. v9 I have made your mind as hard as the hardest stone. Do not be afraid of them. And do not let their faces frighten you. This people oppose me and they refuse to obey me.’

v10 He also said to me, ‘*Son of man. Believe all the words that I will speak to you. Listen to them and keep them in your heart. v11 Then go to your own people who are in *exile. Say to them, “The *LORD your King says this.” Tell them this whether they listen or not.’

Verses 4-7 The *Lord now sends Ezekiel to speak to the *Israelites. If the *Lord had sent Ezekiel to foreigners, they would have listened to him. Ezekiel would not understand them but they would still accept (believe) God’s message. But God’s own people would not listen to Ezekiel. They were too *stubborn. They would not listen to God because they had *turned away from him. This situation was awful. God’s people were even worse than the nations round them.

It would seem that Ezekiel had failed in his task. But this is not true. His task was to speak the words of God. He was not responsible for the results of it.

Verses 8-9 The people were strong in mind. They were *stubborn. They had closed their minds; in other words, they would not even listen. And they would oppose Ezekiel and refuse his message. So, God promised to make Ezekiel stronger in mind. Ezekiel would be strong and he would not fail. Ezekiel would declare God’s message by the strength of the *Lord. The people would not be able to stop Ezekiel.

Verses 10-11 The word of the *Lord had to become part of Ezekiel. Then he could go and speak it. He had to think about the message of the *Lord. He had to believe it to be true. If he were not sure of the message, he could not speak it with confidence. But when he was sure of the message then he could speak with the authority of God.

The *vision moves away – Ezekiel 3:12-15

v12 Then the Spirit lifted me up. I heard behind me a great and loud noise. I heard these words: ‘Praise the *glory of the *LORD in his holy place.’ v13 I heard the sound of the wings of the *creatures as they touched each other. And I also heard the sound of the wheels. It was really a great and loud noise. v14 So, the Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I was unhappy and angry. But I felt that the *LORD’s power was on me. v15 Then I came to the *exiles that lived in Tel-Abib town near the river Chebar. I sat there 7 days where these people lived. I sat as one who became dumb.

Verse 12 This first *vision now ends. The Spirit lifted Ezekiel up. All that he had seen began to move. He heard the loud sounds as of a voice behind him. It said, ‘Praise the *glory of God’. The *cherubim were praising God, who was on his *throne. Praise God because the *glory belongs to him alone!

Verse 13 As the *vision moved, Ezekiel heard the sounds of the wings of the *cherubim. The wheels also made a loud noise as they moved.

Verse 14 Ezekiel must tell the people the message that God had given to him. The message was about God’s judgement against the *Israelites. They would suffer a terrible punishment because of their evil deeds. Ezekiel did not want to do what God had told him. But he knew that he must do it. This upset him and he was angry. He was unhappy with what he had heard. He knew that the people would not listen to him. They would not accept what he had to say.

God was with Ezekiel. He felt that the power of God was holding him. He knew that he must go to the people. Now he could not avoid the task.

Verse 15 Ezekiel had come back to Tel-Abib town where he lived with the *exiles. There it took him a whole week to think about the *vision. It took all that time for him to recover after that experience. The *vision that he had seen worried him. The terror of the message was almost too much for him. He sat there unable to say anything.

Ezekiel is to be a *look-out for the people – Ezekiel 3:16-21

v16 After 7 days the *LORD spoke to me again. v17 ‘*Son of man, I have appointed you to be a *look-out for the *Israelites. You must listen to what I say to you. And you must warn them from me. v18 I may say to the wicked man, “You will certainly die.” Then you must warn him. You must advise him to change from his evil behaviour. He then has the chance to save his life. If you do not warn him, he will die because of his *sin. But you will be responsible to me for his death. v19 Suppose you have warned the wicked man. But he does not *turn from his *sin. He does not change the evil way that he lives. He will die because of his *sin. But you will have saved your own life.

v20 Also, good people may *turn away from their good deeds. Instead, they may do evil deeds. I may put their lives in danger, so that they will die. Because you have not warned them, they will die because of their *sin. I will not remember the good deeds that they have done. But I will consider you responsible for their deaths. v21 But suppose you have warned those good people not to *sin. If they *turn from their *sin, they will live. They believed you when you warned them. And you will have saved your own life.’

Verses 16-17 At the end of the week, the *Lord spoke to Ezekiel. The *Lord made Ezekiel a *look-out for the *Israelites. In those days, a *look-out was a special type of guard. The *look-out would stand on the wall of a city. His job was to watch for enemies and other dangers. If he saw any danger to the city, he had to warn the people. Such danger could be from an army that was approaching. Or it could be a problem inside the city such as a fire.

The *Lord would tell Ezekiel about the dangers that would happen. As the *look-out for the people, he had to sound the alarm. That is, he had to make people aware of the danger. He had to tell the people what God had said.

Verses 18-19 Ezekiel must listen to the *Lord and then warn the people. He was responsible for the task that God gave to him. If he did not warn the people then God would blame him for the results. If he did warn the people then he was without blame.

He had to tell the wicked man to change how he lived. The wicked man would die if he did not change. The death of the wicked man would be the result of that man’s own *sin. But if that man did change then he would live. However, if Ezekiel did not warn him, that man would die. But God would blame Ezekiel for that death.

All people are responsible for what they do. They are responsible for their own deeds, whether those deeds are good or bad. But Ezekiel’s responsibility was to declare God’s message. When God sent him, Ezekiel had to warn the people. If Ezekiel did not do so, God would blame him also.

Verses 20-21 A good person may change and do evil deeds. That person will die because of those evil deeds. The good deeds of the past will not save that person. That person will die. If Ezekiel had not warned that person then he (Ezekiel) is to blame for that death.

Perhaps the person would not act when Ezekiel warned him. Then Ezekiel was not to blame. But God did not want that person to suffer. So, God was sending Ezekiel in order to give that person another opportunity. If that person *turned from *sin, then that person would live.

God speaks to Ezekiel – Ezekiel 3:22-27

v22 Then I felt the power of the *LORD there. He said to me, ‘Get up. Go to the plain and there I will speak to you.’ v23 So, I got up and I went to the plain. I saw the *glory of the *LORD, which was standing there. It was like the *glory that I had seen by the river Chebar. I fell down with my face to the ground.

v24 Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me. He said, ‘Go. Shut yourself inside your house. v25 *Son of man, the people will bind you. So, you will be unable to go out among the people. v26 I will make your tongue stick in your mouth. You will be silent as a dumb person. You will not be able to argue with the people, although they have *turned against me. v27 But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth. That is, I will make you able to speak again. And you will say to them, “The *LORD your King says this.” If people want to listen, they will be able to listen. If people refuse to listen, they will be able to refuse. They are doing this because they have *turned against me.’

Verse 22-23 Ezekiel knew that God was there because he felt God’s power. He heard God speak. So, Ezekiel went out to the plain. There the *glory of God appeared to him as it had done before at the river Chebar. This time he did not see the *vision come toward him. But, as before, he fell down with his face to the ground. Although he had seen it before, the effect was as great. He fell down in fear at the sight of the *glory of God.

Verse 24 The Spirit of God came to Ezekiel. The Spirit lifted Ezekiel to his feet and then the Spirit spoke to him. He told Ezekiel what to do and what would happen. He told Ezekiel to shut himself in his own house. He must not go out. He could not continue with his daily duties.

Verse 25 The Spirit told him that the *exiles would bind him. He would not be able to move about. He would not be able to leave his house. His house would be like a prison for him.

Verses 26-27 God would only allow Ezekiel to speak what God told him. He could say nothing else since God would make him dumb. He would not be able to have a conversation with people. He would not be able to discuss or to argue.

When Ezekiel did speak, the results were not his problem. He was just the agent of the *Lord. All that he said was the messages of the *Lord. The people were responsible for their own actions. They could choose to listen or they could refuse to listen.

God made Ezekiel dumb for 7 years. That period continued until the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. But during that period, Ezekiel had to speak many messages from God. He would remain in his home except as God led him.

The *Lord will destroy Jerusalem – Ezekiel 4:1-5:17

·  God gave this *prophecy to Ezekiel. It was an unusual kind of *prophecy. God told Ezekiel to make a model and to carry out certain actions. The purpose of those actions was to show what would happen to Jerusalem and its inhabitants.

Chapter 4

The brick and the iron plate – Ezekiel 4:1-8

v1 ‘*Son of man, get a brick, and put it in front of you. Draw a map of a city on it. The city is Jerusalem. v2 Then surround it as with an army. Build fences so that nobody can leave the city. Make a slope up the brick for the armies to attack it. Surround the city with camps for the soldiers. Put wooden poles on each side to break down the gates. v3 Then get an iron plate and make it like an iron wall between you and the city. Look toward the city as if to attack it and then attack. This will show the *Israelites what will happen.

v4 Then lie down on your left side, and take the *sin of *Israel on yourself. You shall take their *sin for the number of days that you lie on this side. v5 I have given you the same number of days as the years of their *sin. You shall suffer for the *sin of *Israel for 390 days.

v6 After you have finished that time then lie on your right side. You shall suffer for the *sin of the people who live in Judah. This will be for 40 days, a day for each year of their *sin. v7 Look toward Jerusalem as the armies attack it. With your arms bare, you shall *prophesy against it. v8 I will tie you up so that you cannot turn from one side to the other side. This will continue until you have finished the days of the attack on Jerusalem.’

Verse 1 The *Babylonians did not have paper so, instead, they made their official records on bricks. They made the bricks out of heavy mud. They would scratch what they wanted to write on the soft brick. Then they would bake the brick in order to make it hard. These bricks were their books.

The *Lord told Ezekiel to draw the plan of Jerusalem on one of these bricks.

Verse 2 He had to make models of armies, fences and camps. He put these in place all round the map of Jerusalem.

Verse 3 The iron plate was an iron pan such as people used in order to cook food. Ezekiel had to put this plate between him and the brick. Then he had to look toward the brick and he had to act the battle against Jerusalem.

This was to show the people that there would be a real battle against Jerusalem. The army of the *Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem.

Zedekiah was the man that the *Babylonians had appointed as ruler of Jerusalem instead of the real King Jehoiachin. Zedekiah promised to serve the king of Babylon. But he did not *keep his promise. He asked the king of Egypt to help him fight the king of Babylon. So, the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the year 586 *BC.

Verses 4-5 After Ezekiel had shown the battle for Jerusalem, the *Lord told him to lie down on his left side. The left side meant that he looked toward the north. This was to show that the message was for *Israel. *Israel here means the 10 northern *tribes in the country called *Israel. Judah was in the south of the country where the other two *tribes lived. (The country of the *Israelites had divided into two separate *kingdoms after Solomon’s death.)

Ezekiel had to lie on his left side for 390 days. Each day was for one year. God would punish *Israel for its *sins during these past years. So, 390 days means 390 years. But experts are not sure when these 390 years began. The 390 years may be from the time that *Israel separated from Judah. The end of that time may be when the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. But these dates would not be quite accurate. Perhaps the meaning is simpler: *Israel’s *sins had continued for centuries. But Judah’s *sins (verse 6) were for a shorter period.

The text does not mean that Ezekiel was on his side for 24 hours each day. But he had to lie on his side for a part of each day.

Verse 6 Then Ezekiel had to lie on his right side for 40 days. The right side meant that he looked toward the south. This showed that God would punish Judah for 40 years. We do not know when these 40 years were. They could have ended with the 390 years or followed after them.

Verse 7 While he was lying on his sides, Ezekiel had to stare toward the brick of Jerusalem. With a bare arm over it, he *prophesied its defeat.           

Verse 8 All the time that Ezekiel was on his sides, he could not turn over. At the end of these days, the *Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem.

The lack of bread – Ezekiel 4:9-17

v9 ‘Take some crops such as wheat, *barley, beans, small peas, and millet seeds, and put them in one bowl. Mix them and make bread with them. This shall be your food for the 390 days while you lie on your side. v10 You will eat 8 ounces of food every day at meal times. v11 You will drink only a 6th of a *hin of water every day with your food. v12 Eat your food as you would eat a *barley cake. Bake it on a fire of human *dung where the people can see you.’ v13 Then the *LORD said, ‘In the same manner, the *Israelites shall eat food. I will scatter them among the nations. There they will eat foods that are *unclean in their religion.’

v14 But I said, ‘No, *LORD my King! I have never eaten *unclean food. From my youth until now I have not eaten anything that I found dead. Nor have I eaten what wild animals have killed. This kind of meat has never entered my mouth.’

v15 ‘Very well,’ he said. ‘Then I will give you the *dung of a cow instead of human *dung. Use this for your fire to bake your bread.’

v16 Then he said to me, ‘*Son of man, I will cut off the supply of food in Jerusalem. The people will have to weigh small amounts of bread. And they will worry as they eat it. There will not be much water. They will feel despair as they drink just a little of it. v17 Bread and water will be hard to find. The people will have a shock when they see each other. They will become weak and thin because of their *sin.’

Verses 9-11 During the days when Ezekiel was on his sides, God told him what to eat. He had to make bread from a mixture of grains. That was his food for the 390 days. Each day he could eat just 8 ounces of this bread. He could drink two pints of water (a 6th of a *hin). In a hot country, this is hardly enough water for a person to drink each day. People would usually drink much more water than this.

When the armies of Babylon surrounded Jerusalem, there would be a lack of food. The people would not have enough wheat or *barley to make their bread. They would not have enough water to drink. The amount of food and water would be just enough to keep the people alive.

Verses 12-13 The *Lord told Ezekiel to bake the bread in front of the people. Ezekiel did not bake it in an oven, but on hot stones.

Ezekiel was to use human *dung as the fuel for the fire to heat the stones. The normal fuel would be animal *dung. But when the armies surrounded Jerusalem, the inhabitants would kill the animals in the city for meat. Then there would be no animal *dung for fuel. They would have to use human *dung.

In the religion of *Israel, the *Israelites could not use human *dung as fuel. (See Deuteronomy 23:12-14.) To do so would make the food *unclean. To eat *unclean food would make the people *unclean. In that state, they could not *worship their God. But in that time, they would have to eat *unclean food or die.

Verses 14-15 Ezekiel complained to God. He had never eaten *unclean food. He had always followed the strict food laws of his religion. So, God let him use cow *dung for fuel.

Verse 16-17 The *Lord would use the *Babylonians to punish the *Israelites. The lack of food is because no food would get into the city. But the real cause is the *Lord.

The people would have just a little food. They would have to make it last as long as possible. So, they would eat a little each day. There would not be enough water to drink. They would be able to have just a little each day. They would become thinner and weaker.

They would become thinner and weaker because of lack of food and drink. But the reason for this lack was their *sin. The *Lord God said that he would punish their *sin. And this situation would be part of that punishment.

Chapter 5

Ezekiel cuts and divides his hair – Ezekiel 5:1-4

v1 ‘Now, *son of man, take a sharp sword. Use it as a razor to shave your head and your beard. Then weigh and divide the hair. v2 Burn one-third of the hair with fire in the middle of the city. Do this when the days of the attack on Jerusalem are over. Then take one third of the hair and strike it with the sword all about the city. Scatter the last third of the hair to the wind. This is how I will chase the *Israelites with a sword. v3 But take a few of these hairs and tie them in your clothes. v4 Also, take a few more of the hairs. Throw them into the fire and burn them up. This fire will spread to all the *Israelites.’

Verse 1 The *Lord told Ezekiel to shave his head and his beard. Instead of a razor, he had to use a sharp sword. This was to show that the *Lord would use a sword (in other words, war) against the people. This sword meant the army of the king of Babylon. The king of Babylon was the agent of God to punish the people in Judah.

To shave the head was a sign of shame. For a priest to shave his head meant that he was not holy. He could not act as a priest. But Ezekiel obeyed God and he shaved his head and his beard. He showed that the people in Judah were not now holy to the *Lord.

Ezekiel weighed the hair and he divided it into three parts. This shows the judgement of God. He will divide the people in Judah into three groups. And he will punish them.

Verse 2 When Ezekiel had finished the battle for Jerusalem then he must burn a third of the hair. He burned them on the brick that was his Jerusalem (see 4:1). A third of the people in Jerusalem would die by fire.

Ezekiel must strike a third of the hair with his sword. A third of the people in Jerusalem would die by the sword. That is, the *Babylonian army would kill them.

The third that remained Ezekiel threw to the wind. It blew away. The last third of the people in Jerusalem would go into *exile.

God would use the army of Babylon to punish his people.

Verses 3-4 The final third would not all escape. Some of them would die by fire and some would die by the sword. So most of these families would never return to *Israel. But the few hairs in the clothes are safe. Some of the *exiles would escape and they would be safe. God still had a special plan for these few *Israelites. He would protect them in Babylon. And, in time, he would bring them back to *Israel.

About 4 years later Zedekiah *broke his promise to the king of Babylon. The king of Babylon attacked Jerusalem and the events in this *prophecy happened. The *prophecy was to prepare the *exiles with Ezekiel for the *disaster that would soon happen.

The *Lord will punish Jerusalem – Ezekiel 5:5-17

v5 ‘This is what the *LORD your King says. This is Jerusalem. It is as if I have put Jerusalem at the centre of the nations. And I have put other countries all about Jerusalem. v6 But Jerusalem’s inhabitants have refused to obey my laws. And Jerusalem’s inhabitants have been more evil than the nations that are about Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem have refused my laws and they have not lived by my rules.

v7 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. You have caused more trouble than the nations about you. You have not followed my rules. You have not obeyed my laws. You have not even lived by the standards of the nations about you.

v8 So, this is what the *LORD your King says to Jerusalem and its inhabitants. I myself am against you, Jerusalem. I will punish you and the nations will see it. v9 I will do in you what I have not done before. And I will never do these things again. You do the things that I hate. Therefore, I will punish you. v10 Parents among you will eat their children. Children will eat their parents. So, I will punish you. Those who remain alive I will scatter. They will go in all directions, like hair that blows in the wind. v11 Therefore I, the *LORD your King, am declaring this to you. And it is certain, even as I live. You have made my *temple an *unclean place. You have put false gods in it and you do evil things there. Because of this, I also will leave you. I will not pity you, and I will not save you. v12 A third of your people will die of disease or hunger inside the city. A third of your people will fall by the sword outside the city walls. And a third I will scatter in every direction. I will chase them with a sword.

v13 I will *pour out my anger on them and then my anger will end. This will satisfy me. Then they will know that I, the *LORD, have spoken. They will see my anger. And they will know how much I hate their *sin.

v14 I will ruin you and I will make you into a waste place. I will make you ashamed among the nations. All who pass by will see this. They will see what I have done to you. v15 I will punish you because I am so angry with you. Then terror will spread through the nations that are about you. They will look at you with disgust and they will insult you. I, the *LORD, have spoken this to you. v16 I will cause your crops to fail. I will send a time of hunger to kill you. I will cut off the supply of food to you and you will starve. v17 I will cause there to be a lack of food among you. Wild animals will come and attack you. They will take away your children. Many of you people will be sick and many will die. And I will bring the sword against you to kill you. I, the *LORD, have spoken this to you.’

Verses 5-7 God loved Jerusalem. He had chosen that city for himself. He describes it as ‘the centre’ of the earth. In other words, he considered it more important than any other city. He had given his law to Jerusalem and to the *Israelites by Moses. That law contains promises for those who obeyed its rules. And it contains punishments for those who did not obey them.

The people in Jerusalem had not been loyal to God. They did not obey his laws. They did not even behave as well as the nations round them. They were more wicked than their neighbours. They *worshipped and served false gods. And they turned away from the real God.

Verses 8-9 God himself turned against Jerusalem. The nations will watch as God punishes the city. God has never done this before and he will never do it again. But he will punish them for all the evil things that they had done.

The rest of this chapter is a message from God to Jerusalem and its inhabitants. So, sometimes the word ‘you’ means the city. And sometimes ‘you’ means the inhabitants of the city.

Verse 10 There will not be enough food in the city when the army of Babylon surrounds it. The hunger will be so bad that the people will even kill each other for food. Parents will eat their children. And children will eat their parents.

God will scatter those who remain alive. A small number will go into *exile. But most of the people will die as God punishes them.

Verse 11 The *temple should have been the place where the people would go to *worship God. But the people had brought false gods into the *temple. They did evil things in God’s holy *temple. It was not fit for the *worship of God. God would leave the *temple and he would destroy it.

The people had made the *temple an *unclean place. So, God would *destroy the people. He would not save them from the *disaster to come.

Verse 12 Hunger and disease will kill a third of the people. The *Babylonian army will kill a third of the people. Zedekiah and his men will try to escape but the soldiers will catch them. Those who escape from the city will not be safe. The *Lord will pursue them and many of them will die.

Verse 13 God was angry because of all their *sin. God hates *sin. When he has punished them, his anger will end. Then they will know that he is the *Lord. They will know that he has spoken.

Verses 14-17 The *Lord by Ezekiel gives a list of the *disasters that are to happen in Jerusalem soon. God will destroy Jerusalem. People from other nations will know that the *Lord has done it. They will know that God was so angry with his people. They will know that the *Israelites were not loyal to their God. Because of this, the people from other nations will blame and insult the *Israelites.

The crops will fail and many people will starve to death. Wild animals will attack and kill some of them. Animals will take away children for their food. Many people will die because they are sick. Then the army of Babylon will kill most of those people who are still alive.

God said that all this would happen. And in just a few years, it did.

Enemies will destroy the country called Judah – Ezekiel 6:1-7:27

·  God told Ezekiel about the awful punishment that the people in Judah would suffer. They would suffer because of their *sin, especially the *worship of false gods. They would die because of war, disease and hunger. Those people who did not die would become *exiles. But they would know that the *Lord is God.

·  The events in this *prophecy happened in the year 586 *BC, when the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem.

Chapter 6

God will break the *altars and remove the false gods – Ezekiel 6:1-14

v1 Again, the *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward the mountains in *Israel and *prophesy against them. v3 Say, “Mountains in *Israel, listen to the word of the *LORD your King.” The *LORD your King says this to the mountains, hills, streams and valleys. I am going to attack you with a sword. I will destroy your high places. v4 I will destroy your *altars. I will break your *altars where you burn *incense. I will kill your people in front of their false gods. v5 I will lay the dead bodies of the *Israelites in front of their false gods. And I will scatter your bones about your *altars. v6 Wherever you live, I will ruin your towns. I will destroy the high places and I will break your *altars. I will break your false gods. I will cut down the *altars where you burn *incense. I will remove the things that you have made. v7 People will fall down dead among you. And you will know that I am the *LORD.

v8 But, I will leave some of the *Israelites alive. Some of you will escape from the sword. But I will scatter you among the nations. v9 Then those who have escaped will remember me. They will be living as *exiles among the nations. They will realise how they hurt me. They were not loyal to me. They *turned away from me and they desired to *worship their false gods. They will hate themselves because of the evil things that they did. v10 Then they will know that I am the *LORD. I have not said in vain that I would bring about this terrible thing against them.’

v11 This is what the *LORD your King says. Clap your hands and put your feet down hard. Cry out because of all the terrible, evil things that the *Israelites have done. They will die by war, hunger and disease. v12 The person who is far away will die by disease. The person that is near shall die by the sword. The person who remains in the city shall die of hunger. So, I will act in my anger against them. v13 The dead bodies of the people will be among their false gods. Their bodies will lie about their *altars. These are on every high hill and mountain. They are under every green tree and under the *oak trees. These are the places where they offered *incense to false gods. The *Israelites will see this. Then they will know that I am the *LORD. v14 I will use my power against them and I will empty the country. I will destroy the country from the desert to Diblah. Wherever they live, I will be against them. And they will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 1-3 The *sin that would cause *disaster for Jerusalem was the *worship of false gods. The *worship of false gods in *Israel started in the time of the judges. (In other words, the people who led *Israel before the country had kings. See the Book of Judges.) Men like Samuel, David, Asa and Hezekiah had tried to stop it. But the *worship of false gods did not stop. In the time of King Manasseh, the *worship of false gods increased. He ruled for 55 years. By the time of Ezekiel, this evil *worship was out of control.

God told Ezekiel to look toward the mountains in *Israel. Ezekiel had to look in that direction as he spoke this *prophecy to the *exiles.

The *Lord was speaking to the mountains and hills in *Israel. The tops of hills were the places where the people *worshipped the false gods. The main gods were Baal and the sun god. In the streams and valleys, they *worshipped other gods such as Molech.

The *Lord would cause the *Babylonians to attack the country. They would destroy all these places of *worship.

Verses 4-5 Those who are at these *altars will die there. The *Lord will break down all the *altars and kill the people. The dead bodies and the bones will ruin the *altars. So, the *altars will be *unclean and people cannot again use them again for *worship.

Verses 6-7 The *Lord now speaks to the people. He says that he will destroy their towns. He will destroy the high places where the people served the false gods. The high places were stone platforms on which the people built their *altars. He will break the false gods in pieces. He will break down the *altars. He will kill many of the people.

By these actions, the people will know that God is the *Lord. They must *worship him as the only God.

Verse 8 All the *Israelites deserved the punishment of God. But God will not destroy the whole nation. God will always preserve some of the *Israelites. When he destroys Jerusalem, he will pity some of the people. They will escape but they will go into *exile.

Verses 9-10 When the people live as *exiles in foreign countries, they will think about the past. They will remember the days when *Israel *worshipped God. They will realise how wicked they have been. But it will be too late to prevent God’s punishment.

They will understand that God suffered pain because of their *sin. He loved them but he had to punish them. They had *broken the agreement that they had with God. They had promised to love God and to serve only him. Yet, they had not been loyal to him. They *turned away from him. They *worshipped and served the gods of the nations about them.

In *exile, they will realise how evil their actions really were. They will regret it. They will hate themselves for what they have done. They will agree that God was right to punish them. He had to do it. But he had pity on those whom he sent into *exile.

They will know that the *Lord is God. There is nobody like him. All the false gods are as nothing because he is so great. He is the *Lord God. And he always does what he says. He warned them about the results of their evil deeds. They refused to obey him and so they suffered.

Verse 11 To clap the hands can be an expression of joy or pain. Here it is the pain of what is to happen to their people. The *exiles will clap hands and they will put their feet down hard. They will cry out with strong emotions. They will feel how terrible it will be for the *Israelites.

God will punish the *Israelites for all the evil things that they have done. Apart from some of those in *exile, they will all die. The means of their deaths will be war, hunger and disease.

Verses 12-13 There will be no escape from the anger of God. Wherever the people may go, they will die of diseases. If they remain in the country called *Israel, they will die by the sword. (In other words, their enemies will kill them.) Those who are in Jerusalem will die because of a lack of food. Where they *worshipped their false gods, there they will die.

Those whom God has allowed to live will see this. They will know that God has done it. He has punished his people, and they deserved it because of their *sin. They will know that God is the *Lord.

Verse 14 God will destroy all the *altars and high places. God will destroy all the false gods of the *Israelites. No part of the holy country will escape the anger of God. God will destroy from the desert to Diblah. This means he will destroy from the south to the north of the country. The whole of the country will be as an empty desert.

The *Lord will keep some of his people alive. Then they will know that he is God.

Chapter 7

The *disasters will happen soon – Ezekiel 7:1-13

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, this is what the *LORD your King says to the country called *Israel. An end, the end has come (happened) on the 4 corners of the country. v3 Now the end has come for you. I will act because of my anger against you. I will be your judge for the way that you have lived. I will punish you for all the evil deeds that you have done. v4 I will not pity you. I will not reduce the punishment that is due to you. You will suffer for the way you have lived and for your bad actions. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.

v5 This is what the *LORD your King says. Many terrible and awful *disasters will come upon you to ruin you. v6 The end has come. The end has come. It has raised itself against you. It has come. v7 The end has come for you people who live in the country. The time has come and the day is near. There will be no joy in the mountains on this day of confusion and trouble. v8 Soon I will *pour out all my anger upon you. I will issue judgement against you because of the way that you have lived. I will punish you for all your evil deeds. v9 I will not pity you. I will not hold back punishment. You will suffer for the way that you lived and for all your evil deeds. Then you will know that I am the *LORD who punishes.

v10 The day is here. It has come. It is now the time for judgement. Evil practices have increased. People are more proud than ever. v11 Cruelty and evil power have increased to become like a stick to punish wicked people. None of the people will remain. There will be no wealth and nothing will have any value. v12 The time has come. The day has arrived. Do not let the one who buys be happy. Do not let those who sell be sad. God’s anger is against all of them. v13 The seller shall not return to the land that he sold. This is so even if the seller lives. None of the crowd will return to the country. Because of their *sins, they will not save their lives.’

Verses 1-4 The *Lord speaks by Ezekiel to the country called *Israel. His message is to the 4 corners of the country. This means that he speaks to the whole of the country called *Israel. He uses the word ‘country’ to mean all the people who live in the country. To the *exiles, the country called *Israel is their home where they belong. To them this must have been a sad message.

The end has come. Most *Israelites would die. And the *Lord would remove the rest of the *Israelites. God would not allow them to continue to live in *Israel. He was so angry at their wicked deeds.

God was the judge of what the people had done. He is a fair judge. He always does what is right. He would punish them and they deserved it. They had not obeyed his law. They had not done what they agreed to do. They had chosen to follow other gods. They had *turned away from the *Lord their God.

The people would suffer for all the evil things that they had done. The *Lord had often warned them but they would not change. So, they had no excuse. The *Lord would punish them as he had said. He always does what he says. He would not reduce the punishment. He would not pity them.

God would bring this *disaster on the *Israelites. Then they will know that he is the *Lord.

Verses 5-7 There will be not one *disaster but many. They will come quickly one after another, because the end has come. The *Lord sends them against the people who live in the country. The time had almost come when God would punish *Israel.

That day will be one of terror. There will be no joy but only pain and shock. It will be so sudden that all will be in confusion. There will be no escape. Then it will be too late to *turn back to God. He had warned them but they had not listened to him.

Verses 8-9 These verses say the same as verses 3-4. God is angry against *sin. All the wicked things that people do are *sin. God will punish *sin. These people had *turned from God to false gods. They did such evil things. God warned them what would happen. But they would not come back to God. So, God had to punish them for their wicked behaviour.

All these *disasters will come on the people. Then they will know that God is the *Lord.

Verses 10-11 The *sin of the people had become worse than ever before. God could not allow them to continue their wicked behaviour. The day of judgement had come.

The power of the *Babylonians had increased. They were a cruel and evil people. But God chose to use the king of Babylon as a stick to punish *Israel. That king was Nebuchadnezzar. His armies destroyed Jerusalem in the year 586 *BC. Many of the people had died of hunger or disease. The *Babylonian army killed most of those who remained alive. Some they sent into *exile. They took all that was valuable away from the city.

Verse 12-13 Normal life would not be possible in that day. There would be no purpose in commerce. To buy or to sell would be in vain. The anger of God is against both the seller and the customer. Neither of them will escape. They will both suffer death or *exile.

The effect on those who did not die – Ezekiel 7:14-27

v14 ‘The *trumpets have sounded. The soldiers have prepared everything ready for war. But nobody will go to the battle. This is because my anger is against that entire crowd.

v15 The sword is outside the city. Disease and hunger are in the city. The people who are in the fields will die by the sword. Disease and hunger will kill those people who are in the city. v16 Some of the people will not die. They will escape to the mountains. They will cry like *doves in the valleys. They will cry because of their own *sins. v17 All their hands will hang down, weak because of fear. Their knees will become weak as water. v18 They will put on rough cloth to show how sad they are. They will tremble because of their fear. The shame that they feel will show on their faces. They will shave all the hair from their heads. v19 The people will throw their silver into the streets. Their gold will be to them as rubbish. Their silver and gold will not save them from the *LORD’s anger. Silver and gold will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with food. Their riches caused them to fall into *sin (that is, to live in a *sinful manner). v20 They were proud of their beautiful things. They used them to make their false gods. They made evil images of gods, which I hate. Therefore, I will turn their wealth into rubbish. v21 I will give it to foreigners as the prize of war. I will give it to the most evil people in the world. They will spoil it. v22 I myself will also *turn away from them. They will damage my secret place. Thieves will come in and they will steal from it.

v23 Make chains to bind people. Murder and cruel crimes are all over the country and in the city. v24 I will bring the most evil foreigners here. They will possess your houses. The strong ones among you will no longer be proud. And I will ruin all your holy places. v25 When the people suffer greatly, they will look for peace. But there will be no peace. v26 There will be one *disaster after another. And more bad news will follow bad news. Then the people will ask the *prophets for directions from the *Lord. Priests will stop teaching the law of God. The wise leaders will not be able to give advice. v27 The king will weep and be sad. The prince will give up hope and be in despair. And the hands of the people in the country will tremble because of fear. By their own standards, I will test them. I will punish them for the way that they have lived. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 14-16 The army of Babylon is round about the city called Jerusalem. The soldiers are ready for the battle. But the people in Judah will not go out to fight. They are so weak that they cannot form an army for the battle.

The army of Babylon will kill any of them who are not in the city. Their army is the agent of the anger of God.

The army will not allow food to come into the city. Soon, there will be no more supplies of food in the city. The people will be hungry and sick. They will grow weak and they will die because of disease and hunger.

The *Lord will allow some people to live. These will escape to the mountains. The sound of *doves is a sad cry. Those who escape will cry like the *doves. They will know that they suffer because of their *sin.

Verses 17-22 Terror will fill the hearts of those who remain alive. They will be sad and they will put on rough clothes. Because of their despair, they will shave their heads.

Neither silver nor gold can save them from the anger of the *Lord. Money will be of no use. They cannot even buy food because there is none.

When they were wealthy, they *turned from the *Lord. They made false gods and *worshipped them. Now their wealth would be of no use to them. It would be no better than rubbish.

The *Babylonians were very evil and cruel soldiers. They would destroy Jerusalem. They would take all the wealth and the beautiful things from the city. They would ruin the *temple. They would remove from it everything that had any value.

Verses 23-27 It was not only in Jerusalem that the people in Judah did their wicked deeds. The people in the country were as bad as those in the city. So, the *Lord would bring the worst of nations to punish them. He sent the *Babylonians. They would attack the country. They would occupy all the houses. They would destroy all the places where the people had *worshipped their gods.

The people will desire peace but there will be no peace. As the *disasters increase, they try to find help. The *prophets pray to the *Lord but the *Lord does not answer them. Their leaders and wise men have no answers. There is no hope and they are in despair. Even the king and the prince are afraid of the terror that will come upon them.

They deserved all their troubles. The *Lord was punishing them because of their evil behaviour. Then they will know that God is the *Lord.

The *Israelites and their false gods – Ezekiel 8:1-18

·  In a *vision, God took Ezekiel to Jerusalem. There, Ezekiel saw how wicked the people had become. Even in God’s holy *temple, people were *worshipping false gods. And Ezekiel saw that the leaders, the women and the priests were all guilty of this *sin.

Chapter 8

The false god in the *temple – Ezekiel 8:1-6

v1 It was the 5th day of the 6th month in the 6th year of our *exile. I sat in my house and the leaders of Judah sat with me. There I felt the power of the *LORD our King. v2 I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From the middle down, he seemed to be like fire. From the middle up, he seemed to shine like glowing metal. v3 He reached out what seemed to be a hand. It grasped me by my hair. And the Spirit lifted me up between earth and sky. In a *vision, God took me to Jerusalem. He took me to the entrance of the *temple’s north gate. This is the inner area to the north side of the *temple. In this area was the false god that caused God to be angry. v4 I saw the *glory of the God of *Israel there, as I had seen on the plain.

v5 He said to me, ‘*Son of man, look toward the north.’ So, I looked toward the north. I saw the entrance north of the *altar gate. And there was the false god that made God so angry.

v6 God spoke to me again. ‘*Son of man, look what they are doing. See how many terrible things the *Israelites are doing here. I hate those things and they cause me to go far away from my *temple. But you will see things that are even more terrible than these.’

Verse 1 Ezekiel records the exact date of this *vision. That was during September in the year 592 *BC. At the end of the *vision, the *Lord tells of the punishment that will happen. After it happens, the people will be able to see this record. Then they will know that God brought about these events.

This *vision continues from chapter 8 to chapter 11.

The leaders of the *exiles came to the house of Ezekiel. They had come to the *prophet in order to hear from the *Lord. But Ezekiel could bring no message of comfort to them. He told them about the *vision that God had given to him. But that was all that he could do.

Ezekiel felt the power of God. It was as if God laid his hand upon Ezekiel. It was so sudden and he seemed to rise up with the *Lord. God raised him up into this *vision.

Verse 2 As Ezekiel looked, he saw a strange person. This person was a *vision of the *Lord. The fire and the bright metal show something of the *glory of God. The description here is similar to Ezekiel 1:27.

Verse 3 Since Ezekiel had to cut off all his hair (Ezekiel 5:1), it had now grown again. God grasped him by his hair. The Spirit of God lifted Ezekiel into the air. In the *vision, they flew to Jerusalem.

They went to the *temple’s north gate. This gate was by the inner area at the north side of the *temple. In this area, there was a large image of a false god. Such an image ought not to be there. It caused God to be angry. This place was to be holy for the *Lord. It was a terrible *sin to erect there the image of a false god.

Verse 4 There was the false god. But there also was the *glory of the real God. Ezekiel saw the *glory of God as he had seen it before (Ezekiel chapter 1; Ezekiel 3:23).

Verses 5-6 The *Lord told Ezekiel to look toward the north. And he saw the image of a false god. Here the people *worshipped the false god. But they still would say that they *worshipped God as well. But they cannot *worship false gods and the real God. God’s command is that his people must *worship him alone. They must have no other gods. (See Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7.)

The *worship of other gods by the people in Judah made God angry. Because of the wicked things that the people did, God could not remain in his *temple.

Ezekiel saw what the people were doing by the north gate. These things were terrible but they were just the beginning. God warned that Ezekiel would see much worse things than these.

The leaders burn *incense to false gods – Ezekiel 8:7-13

v7 Then he brought me to the entrance of the area that is about the *temple. When I looked, I saw a hole in the wall. v8 He said to me, ‘*Son of man, dig through the wall.’ So, I dug through the wall, and I saw a door.

v9 Then he said to me, ‘Go in. See the terrible, evil things that they are doing here.’ v10 I went in and looked. I saw that pictures covered the walls. They were of every kind of *creature that crawls, and of awful animals. The *Israelites had also painted their false gods on the walls. v11 70 leaders of the *Israelites stood in front of these false gods. Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, was there with them. Each man had his pan for burning *incense in his hand. And the sweet smell of the *incense rose like a cloud.

v12 Then God said to me, ‘*Son of man, look at this. Look what the leaders of *Israel are doing in the dark. Each one of them is in front of his false god. They say, “The *LORD does not see us. The *LORD has gone from the country.’’ ’ v13 Again God spoke to me. ‘You will see even more terrible things that they are doing.’

Verses 7-10 The *Lord brought Ezekiel near to the entrance of the area about the *temple. Here was a secret room. All that Ezekiel could see was a hole in the wall. God told him to open up the wall. As he did so, he found a door.

The *Lord told him to go in. He went into the room. He saw there the 70 leaders of Judah. He watched them. And he saw what they were doing.

There were awful pictures all over the walls. These were of things that crawl and of *unclean animals. Also, the false gods of *Israel were there.

Verse 11 These 70 men were the leaders of Judah. They stood in front of the false gods. This means that they *worshipped the gods.

Shaphan had been a good man. He served King Josiah. When the builders found the book of God’s law in the *temple, he took it to the king. He read it. He helped to bring the people back to the *Lord God. (2 Kings 22:3-14). Now one of his sons, Jaazaniah, *worshipped false gods.

The name Jaazaniah means ‘the *Lord hears.’

In the *worship of God, only the priests would have *incense. These men were not priests. They burned *incense to the false gods. In the proper *worship of God, *incense was a sweet smell that the priests offered to him. Here the leaders took what belonged to the *Lord. And they offered it up to their false gods.

Verses 12-13 In this secret room, Ezekiel saw what the leaders did. Each one of them *worshipped his false god. The *Lord God sees all that happens, even in secret. We cannot hide anything from him. Yet, these men said that God did not see them. They said that God had gone from the country. But God is always there and he is everywhere. However, the *glory of God would not remain in that place. Soon the *glory of God would leave. And then the army from Babylon would destroy Jerusalem.

The leaders’ secret *sins were worse than anything that Ezekiel had seen before. But God said that Ezekiel would see even worse *sins.

The women *worship Tammuz – Ezekiel 8:14-15

v14 He brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the *LORD’s *temple. Women were sitting there. They were crying for the god called Tammuz. v15 And God said to me, ‘*Son of man look at this. You will see things that are even more evil than these.’

Verses 14-15 Tammuz was a false god that the people had brought, long before this time, from Babylon. Another name for him was Dumuzi. This name means ‘the son of life.’ At first, he was the sun god. But later he became the god of the spring. His parents were the gods Ea and Sirdu. His wife was the female god Ishtar. His home was under the tree of life. And this tree was in the garden of Eridu. Eridu was between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

There were many stories about him. They tell of the death of Tammuz and how Ishtar wept for him. Then in the story Tammuz became alive again.

Tammuz became the name of a month in the year. This is about our months of June and July. In that month, the people who *worship Tammuz weep for his death. They weep as people weep after the death of their only son. This is what the women were doing at the north gate of the *temple.

It was not just the men who were *worshipping false gods. The women too had *turned away from the *Lord.

*Worship of the sun – Ezekiel 8:16-18

v16 Then God brought me into the inner area of the *temple. There I saw about 25 men at the entrance to the *temple of the *LORD. They were between the entrance and the *altar. They had their backs to the *temple of the *LORD. They looked toward the east and they *worshipped the sun in the east.

v17 God said to me, ‘*Son of man look at this. It is bad enough that the people in Judah do these awful things here. But they also fight and they have filled the country with cruelty. They have *turned from me and they make me so angry. They insult me in the worst possible way. v18 So, because of my fierce anger, I will punish them. I will not pity them; and I will not save them. Even if they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’

Verse 16 The inner area of the *temple was a holy place for the *worship of God. Here there were 25 men. These men would have been priests who served in the *temple. Yet, they had *turned their backs to the *temple. They had *turned away from the real God. They *worshipped the sun as it rose in the east. They were *worshipping Shamas, the sun god of Babylon. It is not possible to *worship false gods and the real God.

Verses 17-18 It was not just in their *worship that the people *sinned. Their whole manner of life had become wicked. (This is similar to the situation that Paul described in Romans 1:18-32.) The *Israelites were so bad that God was angry with them. He was so angry that he would punish them. He would destroy the city and the people. He would not listen even if they cried out to him for help.

Judgement on Jerusalem and God’s *glory leaves – Ezekiel 9:1-11:25

·  Even in God’s holy *temple, people were *worshipping false gods. But God’s *glory was still present in his *temple. This situation could not continue. The punishment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem would happen soon. But first, the *glory of God would leave Jerusalem.

Chapter 9

The man with a writer’s case – Ezekiel 9:1-4

v1 Then I heard God. He called out with a loud voice. ‘You men who must punish the city: come near with your *weapons in your hands.’ v2 Then 6 men came from the direction of the upper gate, which is toward the north. Each of them had in his hand a *weapon with which to kill people. Among them was a man who wore good clothes. At his side, he held a writer’s case. The men went into the *temple and they stood by the *bronze *altar.

v3 Then the *glory of the God of *Israel went up. It rose from above the *cherub on which it had been. It went to the entrance of the *temple. Then the *LORD spoke to the man in good clothes who had the writer’s case. v4 The *LORD said to the man, ‘Go through Jerusalem. Some of the people sigh and cry. They hate all the evil things that they see in the city. Put a mark on their heads.’

Verses 1-2 God ordered 6 men to come. These men were *angels and not ordinary men. The Bible often speaks of *angels as men. They came through the same gate as Ezekiel had done. They came from the upper gate, which is at the north of the *temple. Each of these men had *weapons in his hands. The task of these men was to kill the people in the city. They were the agents of the *Lord, who would punish the people.

Another man came with the 6 men. He was different from the other men. He wore good clothes. He did not have any *weapons. But he had a writer’s case.

These men went and they stood by the *bronze *altar. This is the *altar where the priests burned *sacrifices to God.

Verses 3-4 In the *temple, there was the most holy place. In this room, there was the box of the agreement. Above this box were the *cherubim. Over the *cherubim was the place where the *glory of God stayed. It was here that the high priest brought the blood of the special *sacrifice for *sin (Hebrews 9:7). Here he asked God to forgive the people. Now the *glory of God left that room. God would not forgive the people. God went to the entrance ready to leave the *temple. As he left, the punishment would begin.

God spoke to the 7th man. God told him to go through Jerusalem. He must find all the people who hate the evil deeds of the city. He must mark the head of each of these with his pen and ink. This mark was the last letter of the *Hebrew alphabet. This was the letter ‘t’ (called ‘taw’). It was in the shape of a cross. The mark on the head would protect those people. The 6 men would not kill them.

6 *angels would kill the people. One *angel would mark those who would not die. The *Lord would save only a few of the people.

Punishment of the people – Ezekiel 9:5-11

v5 I heard God as he spoke to the other men. He said, ‘Follow the man with the good clothes through the city. Kill and do not pity anyone. Show no sympathy. v6 Kill and *destroy old men, young men and women, little children, and older women. But do not touch any person who has the mark. Start at my *temple.’ So, they began. First they killed the older men who were in front of the *temple.

v7 Then God said to the men, ‘Make the *temple *unclean. Fill the *temple areas with dead bodies. Go and do it.’ The men went out and they began to kill the people in the city. v8 While the men killed the people, I was alone. I fell to the ground and I cried to the *Lord. ‘Oh, *LORD my King, you are so angry with the people in Jerusalem. Will you kill all who remain alive in *Israel?’

v9 Then he said to me, ‘The *sin of the *Israelites and Judah is very great. The country is full of evil deeds. There are many murders and other crimes. They say, “The *LORD has gone away. The *LORD does not see what we do.” v10 And so, I will not pity them or forgive them. I will do to them what they have done to other people.’

v11 Then the man with fine clothes and the writer’s case returned. He spoke to the *Lord. ‘I have done what you ordered.’

Verses 5-7 The *Lord then told the 6 men to kill the people. He told them to kill the old people, the young people, men, women and children. But they must not touch those who had the mark. They started at the *temple first. The 25 men who *worshipped the sun (8:16-18) would be among the first to die. The 70 leaders who *worshipped false gods in the inner area (8:11) would die.

The punishment of God starts at his house. The people should have *worshipped and obeyed him there. But they had used the *temple for the *worship of false gods. They had refused to obey God.

Verse 8 Ezekiel was alone in the inner area of the *temple. He saw the events in the *temple. He knew what was happening in the city. And it was terrible. It upset him so much that he cried out to God. He knew that the cause of the *disaster was the *sin of the people. God was so angry that he sent the men to kill them. Ezekiel’s cry was in fact a prayer for God to stop. God must save some of those who were still alive. Ezekiel’s prayers had no effect because the *sin of the people was too great.

Verses 9-10 God answered Ezekiel that it was too late. The *Lord had warned the people in *Israel and Judah. They had refused to hear God. They would not listen to him. They had *turned away from him and they *worshipped false gods. They would not *repent of their *sin.

The people did such bad and cruel things. Their whole way of life was wicked. It was not just in their *worship but in their politics as well. They said that God could not see them. They did not believe that God would punish them. But God does see. God will do as he has said. There comes a time when God has to punish *sin. That time had come.

Verse 11 The man with the pen and ink came back. He reported to the *Lord that he had completed his task. All those who hated evil deeds had received the mark. That mark had saved them from death. (Compare Exodus 12:13.)

Even in the worst situation, God saves those who trust in him.

Chapter 10

Coals of fire over the city – Ezekiel 10:1-8

v1 I looked in the sky above the *cherubim’s heads. There I saw what seemed to be a *throne. It was blue like a *sapphire stone. v2 The *LORD spoke to the man who wore good clothes. ‘Go in among the wheels beneath the *cherubim. Fill your hands with coals of fire from between the 4 *creatures. Then scatter the coals over the city.’ As I watched, the man went in.

v3 The *cherubim were standing on the south side of the *temple when the man went in. And a cloud filled the inner area of the *temple. v4 Then the *glory of the *LORD rose from above the *cherubim. It moved to the entrance of the *temple. The cloud filled the *temple. And the *glory of the *LORD shone brightly through the areas about the *temple.

v5 The sound of the wings of the *cherubim was very loud. One could hear it as far away as the outer area of the *temple. It was like the voice of the most powerful God when he speaks.

v6 The *LORD ordered the man who wore good clothes, ‘Take fire from between the wheels, from among the *cherubim.’ The man went in and he stood next to the wheels. v7 One *cherub put out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took some of the fire. He put it into the hand of the man who wore good clothes. The man took it and he went out. v8 Under the wings of the *cherubim, there were what seemed to be human hands.

Verses 1-2 Ezekiel then saw again the *cherubim as he had seen them before. Above them was the *throne of the *Lord. The *Lord spoke to the man in good clothes. The man was not still carrying his writer’s case. The *Lord had a different task for him to do.

God told him to take fire coals from between the wheels. He told the man to scatter these coals over the city. These coals would cause fire to destroy the city. The man went in between the wheels, which were below the *cherubim.

Verses 3-4 The *cherubim were in the inner area to the south of the *temple. The *glory of God had moved to the *temple door. The *glory of the *Lord was like a cloud. It spread through the *temple and the areas round it.

Verse 5 The *cherubim were ready for the *Lord to leave the *temple. Their wings moved as they prepared to go. The sound of their wings was loud. The sound was like the voice of God. It seemed to declare that God would leave the *temple.

Verses 6-8 The *angel (the man with the good clothes) did what the *Lord told him to do. He went in between the wheels and he stood by one of them. A *cherub reached into the fire. The *cherubim had hands like human hands. This *cherub took coals in his hand from the fire that was among them. He put these coals of fire into the hands of the *angel.

Ezekiel does not tell here about the *angel’s next action. But God had told the *angel to pour the coals of fire over the city. Fire destroyed Jerusalem in the year 586 *BC (2 Kings 25:9).

The *cherubim and God’s *glory leave the city – Ezekiel 10:9-22

v9 As I looked, I saw the 4 wheels next to the *cherubim. There was one wheel by each *cherub. The wheels shone like a precious stone. v10 All 4 wheels were alike. Each wheel had a second wheel through the middle of it. v11 When the wheels moved, they could go in any direction. They followed the direction of the heads of the *cherubim. The wheels did not turn about as the *cherubim went. And the *cherubim did not turn their bodies as they went.

v12 All their bodies were full of eyes all over. Their backs and their hands were full of eyes. So were their wings and the wheels. Each of the 4 *cherubim had a wheel. v13 I heard a voice speak to the wheels. It called them, ‘the wheels that spin.’ v14 Each of the *cherubim had 4 faces. The first face was the face of a *cherub. The second face was the face of a man. The third face was the face of a lion. And the 4th face was the face of an *eagle.

v15 Then the *cherubim flew up. These were the same 4 *creatures that I had seen by the River Chebar. v16 When the 4 *creatures moved, the wheels moved with them. When the 4 *creatures lifted their wings to fly, the wheels did not leave their sides. v17 When the 4 *creatures stopped, the wheels stopped. When the *creatures went up, the wheels went up also. This was because the spirit of the *creatures was in the wheels.

v18 Then the *glory of the *LORD left the door of the *temple. It stood above the 4 *creatures. v19 As I watched, the 4 *creatures spread their wings. They flew up from the ground, and the wheels went with them. They stopped at the east gate entrance of the *LORD’s *temple. And the *glory of the God of *Israel was over them.

v20 I had seen these 4 *creatures beneath the God of *Israel by the River Chebar. I knew that these 4 were the *cherubim. v21 Each one had 4 faces and 4 wings. Under their wings were things that seemed to be like human hands. v22 Their faces were the same as the ones that I had seen by the River Chebar. They each went straight ahead.

Verses 9-11 Ezekiel describes again the wheels and the *cherubim. These were the same as he saw by the River Chebar (see chapter 1). The wheels moved as the *cherubim moved. The *cherubim moved as the Spirit of God moved. The wheels did not turn. They went forward as the *cherubim led them. Each wheel seemed to have a wheel inside a wheel. That is, each wheel had another wheel across its centre. The *cherubim went in any direction but they did not turn their bodies.

Verses 12-14 All the *cherubim and the wheels were full of eyes. The *cherubim had eyes in their backs, hands and wings. The eyes show that they can see all things. As they see all things, so does God. Nobody can hide anything from the eyes of God (Hebrews 4:12-13).

There were 4 *cherubim and each one had a wheel. Someone called the wheels, ‘the wheels that spin.’ They did not turn to move in any direction. But they did spin and they made a noise.

The *cherubim each had 4 faces. Three of these are the same as in the first *vision (see chapter 1:10). But the 4th face here is not the face of an *ox. It is the face of a *cherub. We do not know the reason for the change.

Verses 15-17 The *cherubim and their wheels were preparing to leave the *temple. They rose from the ground and the wheels rose with them. The *cherubim and the wheels always move together as one.

Verses 18-22 The *glory of God left the *temple. It had come out of the most holy place already. It had come to the door. Now it moved away from the door to stand above the *cherubim. The *cherubim, their wheels and the *throne moved. They stopped about 50 yards away at the east gate. As they went the *glory of God went above them.

God had left his *temple. God had warned *Israel that he would do so. This is what God told Moses in Deuteronomy 31:17.

The *glory of God had been present at the *temple for about 4 centuries. You can read how the *glory of God entered the *temple in 1 Kings 8:6-11. But now Ezekiel watched as God’s *glory left the *temple. And because God’s *glory left, his special protection for Jerusalem ended. Now nothing prevented the punishment of the people in the city. These things were happening because their lives were so evil.

Ezekiel saw that the 4 *creatures were the *cherubim. They were the same as he had seen by the River Chebar (see chapter 1).

Chapter 11

How God would punish the leaders of *Israel – Ezekiel 11:1-13

v1 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the *LORD’s *temple. There were 25 men at the entrance of the gate. Among them, I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. v2 The *LORD said to me, ‘*Son of man, you see these men. They plot evil deeds and they give wicked advice in this city. v3 They say, “It will soon be time to build houses. This city is like a pot that a person uses to cook. And we are like the meat.” v4 So, *prophesy against them! *Prophesy, *son of man.’

v5 Then the Spirit of the *LORD came upon me, and he told me to speak. ‘Say: this is what the *LORD says. “*Israelites, you have said these things. And I know what you think. v6 You have killed many people in this city. You have filled its streets with dead bodies.”

v7 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. ‘The people that you killed, you left them in the middle of the city. These are as the best meat and the city is as the pot. But I will force you out of the city. v8 You are afraid of the sword.’ But the *LORD your King says, ‘I will bring the sword against you. v9 I will force you out of the city. I will punish you. I will hand you over to strangers and they will carry out your punishment. v10 You will die by the sword. I will punish you at the border of *Israel. So, you shall know that I am the *LORD. v11 This city shall not be as your pot, and you shall not be as the meat inside it. I will punish you at the border of *Israel. v12 Then you will know that I am the *LORD. You did not live by my rules or obey my laws. Instead, you did the same things as the nations about you.’

v13 As I *prophesied, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on the ground and I cried out with a loud voice. ‘Oh no, *LORD my King, will you kill all the *Israelites who are still alive?’

Verse 1 Ezekiel watched the *glory of the *Lord move to the east gate of the *temple. Then the Spirit took him there. He saw 25 men who met by that gate. They were leaders of the people in Judah.

They are not the same men that he had seen before. He recognised two of them, Jaazaniah and Pelatiah. In the other group, there was a man with the name of Jaazaniah. That man was the son of Shaphan but this one was the son of Azzur.

Verses 2-4 These leaders had lied to the people. The *prophets warned the people that God would destroy Jerusalem. These leaders told them that this was not true. This shows their false security and how proud the leaders were. They said that the city was safe. No injury would come so the people should build houses. They wanted to obtain as much profit as they could from such actions. And they plotted evil things against God and the people.

The meat inside the pot is safe from the fire. These men said that the people are safe like meat in the pot. They did not believe that God would allow the *Babylonians to destroy the *temple or the city. The people would be safe in the city.

The *Lord told Ezekiel to *prophesy against these men. God had a message for them. Ezekiel must tell them that God will punish them.

Verses 5-6 The *Lord knew the thoughts of these leaders. They could hide nothing from God. He knew all that they did. He heard all that they said. God knew that they had refused to believe the words of the *prophets. These leaders had *turned from God to *worship false gods. And they did not obey the law of God.

Many people died because of their evil schemes. By their actions, they had murdered many of them. These people had not died in the war. They died because of the evil political actions of their leaders.

Verses 7-8 The people put the best meat in the pot. The leaders had used this as a picture in words of safety for them. The city of Jerusalem was the pot and they were safe in it. God would not destroy his *temple and city. But the *Lord changed the picture in words. The ‘best meat’ meant the people whom they had killed. These dead bodies will remain in the city. Those who remain alive will not stay there. The *Lord will force them out of the city.

They were afraid of the sword. That is, they were afraid of the *Babylonian army. But they thought that God would save Jerusalem. Therefore, they would be safe there. But what they were afraid of, would happen. The *Lord would send the *Babylonians to destroy the city.

Verses 9-10 The *Lord will hand over those people who remain alive to their enemy (the *Babylonian army). The enemy as the agent of God will punish them. There will be no escape. They may try to run but they will not reach the borders of *Israel. Then they will know that God is the *Lord.

Verses 11-12 The city will not be a safe place for them. They will not be like the best meat in the pot. They will not be able to stay there. The *Lord will force them out of Jerusalem. They will have no escape because the *Lord will punish them. Then they will know that God is the *Lord.

Their crime was that they were like the nations round them. They had *turned away from God. They had not obeyed God’s laws. The *Jews had made a contract with God but they did not do it.

Verse 13 One of the 25 men that Ezekiel had seen at the east gate was Pelatiah. As Ezekiel was speaking this message, Pelatiah died. The name Pelatiah means ‘God provides escape.’ There would be no escape.

The death of Pelatiah was an awful shock to Ezekiel. He cried out aloud to the *Lord. He was afraid that God would *destroy all the *Israelites.

God’s promise for the future of *Israel – Ezekiel 11:14-21

v14 The *LORD spoke to me again. v15 ‘*Son of man, the people still in Jerusalem talk about your family and all the *exiles. They say, “The *exiles have gone far away from the *LORD. So, the country called *Israel now belongs to those who remain in it.”

v16 Therefore say, “This is what the *LORD your King says. I sent them far off among the nations to live in other countries. But, I was their shelter (protection) in the nations where they have gone.”

v17 So say, “This is what the *LORD your King says. I will gather you from the nations. I will bring you together from the countries where I scattered you. Then I will give the country called *Israel back to you.”

v18 When they come to this country, they will remove all the false gods. They will remove all the evil things that I hate. v19 I will give to them a heart that will serve only me. I will put a new spirit in them. I will take away the hearts that are as hard as stone. I will put in them warm and gentle hearts. v20 Then they will live by my rules. They will obey my laws and do them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. v21 But some people want to serve their false gods and evil things. I will punish them for their evil ways, says the *LORD your King.’

Verses 14-15 The people who were still in Jerusalem spoke about the *exiles. They thought that the *exiles had gone away from the *Lord. Their God was the God of the country called *Israel. But the *Lord had sent the *exiles away from *Israel. So, the people in Jerusalem said that the *exiles must have been bad people. The *exiles had left the country. There could be no hope for the *exiles. The *exiles had gone and they would not return.

So, the people in Jerusalem thought that they were better people than the *exiles. And the people in Jerusalem said that the country now belonged to them. They said that because they remained there. They were God’s people and they were safe in the country. That is what they thought. But of course, they were wrong.

Verse 16 The truth was that God sent the *exiles away. However, he did it so that he might save them. He sent them to live in other countries for a period of time. The *Lord would take care of them in those countries.

Verse 17 Here is the first of many promises of God to bring the *exiles back. God would gather them from the nations. God would bring them back to the country called *Israel. God would give the country to them again.

Verse 18 The *exiles will be God’s people. They (or their families) will return to live in the country that God gave to *Israel. They will *worship the *Lord their God. They will not *worship false gods. They will remove all the evil things that were there. The people will return in their hearts and minds to the *Lord their God. They will obey the agreement that they had with him.

Verses 19-20 God promises to give a new heart and a new spirit to his people. The new heart and spirit will replace the old heart. The *Israelites had been *stubborn and they had not loved God. When they came home from *exile, they would be different. Their heart would be soft toward God. They will love God and they will want to obey him.

God will accept them as his people. He will be their God. They will have no other gods.

Verse 21 God will punish anybody who chooses to serve false gods.

The *glory of the *Lord goes from Jerusalem – Ezekiel 11:22-25

v22 Then the *cherubim lifted their wings with the wheels next to them. The *glory of the God of *Israel was above them. v23 Then the *glory of the *LORD went up from the city. And it stopped on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. v24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me back to the *exiles in Babylonia. So, this strange experience with the Spirit of God left me. v25 I told the *exiles all the things that the *LORD had shown to me.

Verses 22-25 Ezekiel now returns to the events in his *vision. He saw the *cherubim rise up and the wheels with them. The *throne of the *glory of God was above them. The *glory of the *Lord left the city called Jerusalem. The *vision moved to the east. That is, to the mountain that is called the Mount of Olives.

The Spirit of God grasped Ezekiel. The Spirit brought him back to the *exiles in Babylon. And the *vision ended there. Ezekiel then told the *exiles all that he had seen.

The *Lord’s reply to the *exiles – Ezekiel 12:1-19:14

·  This passage contains a series of *prophecies that Ezekiel gave to the *exiles. They were living in the country of the *Chaldeans, but still some of their families were in Jerusalem. The *Lord used these *prophecies to warn them what would happen to Jerusalem. And he explained the reasons why these things would happen.

Chapter 12

*Prophecy of the *exile – Ezekiel 12:1-20

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, you live among people who refuse to obey me. They have eyes to see. But it is as if they do not see. They have ears to hear. But it is as if they do not hear. They are a people who refuse to obey.

v3 So, *son of man, get ready as if to go into *exile. Pack what you need in your bags. Then go in the daytime as the people watch you. Go from your place to another place. Go as an *exile would. Perhaps they will consider what it means. But they are people who refuse to obey. v4 Bring out the things that you would pack for *exile during the daytime. Then the people will see what you do. In the evening, let them see you go. And leave like someone who is going into *exile. v5 While they watch, dig through the wall. Go through the hole with your bags. v6 Put your baggage on your shoulders as they watch you. As the daylight ends, go your way. Cover your face so that you cannot see the ground. All of this will be to warn the *Israelites.’

v7 I did what the *Lord told me to do. During the day, I brought out my things that I had packed as for *exile. In the evening, I dug through the wall with my hands. I went out as the daylight ended. I carried the baggage on my shoulders. And the people saw what I did.

v8 Then in the morning the *LORD spoke to me again. v9 ‘*Son of man, the *Israelites refuse to obey me. However, they still asked you, “What are you doing?’’

v10 Say to them, “This is what the *LORD your King says. This message is about the prince in Jerusalem. And it is for all the *Israelites who are still there.’’ v11 Say to them, “I have warned you. What I have done, the people in Jerusalem will have to do. They will have to go into *exile.”

v12 The prince who is among them will put his baggage on his shoulders. As the daylight ends, he will leave the city. He will go through a hole that someone has dug in the wall. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the ground. v13 But I will be like a hunter. It will be as if I am spreading my net over him. Or it will be as if I am catching him in my trap. Then I will bring him to Babylon in the country of the *Chaldeans. He will not see that country, but he will die there. v14 I will scatter those who are with the king in all directions. I will chase them, his helpers and all his army, with the sword.

v15 I will scatter them among the nations. I will send them to foreign countries. Then they will know that I am the *LORD. v16 But I will save a few of them from the sword. And I will save them from hunger and disease. Then they can tell about their wicked actions among the nations where they go. Then they will know that I am the *LORD.’

v17 The *LORD spoke to me. v18 ‘*Son of man, tremble as you eat your food. Shake with fear as you drink your water. v19 Say to the people in the country: “This is what the *LORD your King says. Those people who live in Jerusalem and in the country called *Israel will do this. They will eat their food in fear and drink their water in despair. Their land will produce nothing because of the wicked cruelty of the people who live in it. v20 The cities, where people live, will become piles of rubbish. And the country will become empty. Then you shall know that I am the *LORD.” ’

Verses 1-2 God spoke to Ezekiel again. He reminded Ezekiel that the people refused to obey the *Lord. Ezekiel had told them what God said. He had shown them by actions what would happen soon. He had told them about the *visions that the *Lord had given to him. But the *exiles among whom he lived would not hear (believe) the message. They had seen his actions, but they did not really understand. They did not believe the words, the actions or the *visions.

Still the people hoped for an early return to Jerusalem. They did not believe that God would destroy the city.

Verses 3-7 Here, Ezekiel acts as if he were still in Jerusalem. The people there will have to escape from the city. So, Ezekiel must pack his bag with the things that he would need for his *exile. He would know what to pack. He went into *exile in the year 597 *BC. God tells Ezekiel to pack during the day so that the people will see it.

In the evening, Ezekiel must dig a hole through the wall of his home. Then he must leave his home. He must go through the hole in the wall as if to escape. He will put his bag on his shoulder and he will go. He will cover his face as he goes. He would go far enough from his home to show what the action meant.

All of this is to warn the *Israelites. The message to the *exiles is that they will not return to Jerusalem soon. They will watch the strange acts of Ezekiel. And probably they will ask him questions. They will want to know what he is doing. They may ask him why he is doing it. Perhaps some of them will understand. At last, they may believe what Ezekiel had told them. God will destroy Jerusalem.

Ezekiel did all that the *Lord had told him to do. The *exiles who were with him saw everything.

Verses 8-11 All the *exiles with Ezekiel should have understood what he did. God refers to their questions. But now, on the morning after, God tells Ezekiel to explain it to them.

Those who remained in Jerusalem would go into *exile. This did happen in the year 586 *BC. This included Zedekiah, who was the ruler in Jerusalem.

Verses 12-14 The ‘prince among them’ meant Zedekiah. Ezekiel writes of him as the ‘prince’ rather than the ‘king’. The real king was Jehoiachin who was already in *exile in Babylon.

Zedekiah would pack his bags at night. He would then escape through the gates of the king’s garden. He would try to escape to the river Jordan. There the army of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, would catch him. The army would catch him like an animal in a trap. It was as if God was the hunter. And he set up his net as a trap to catch Zedekiah.

Those who were with Zedekiah would run in all directions. But they would not escape. Many would die. Those who remained would go into *exile.

All these things happened to Zedekiah in 586 *BC.

The *Babylonians took Zedekiah and his sons to Nebuchadnezzar at a town called Riblah. As Zedekiah watched, the *Babylonians killed his sons in front of him. Then they made him blind. The last thing that he saw was the death of his sons. Then the *Babylonians took Zedekiah to Babylon. But, of course, he was not able to see the country. He died there. (See Jeremiah 52:7-11.)

Verses 15-16 God would save a small number of the people. He would save them from the three dangers of the sword, hunger and disease. He would send these people to other countries. They would speak about the reasons for their *exile. The *Lord sent them away from their country because of their *sin. All that the *Israelites suffered was their own fault. They would at last realise what they had done. Then they would understand that God was right to punish them. In those foreign countries, they would know that God is the *Lord.

Verses 17-20 The *Lord told Ezekiel to show the *exiles what it was like to be in Jerusalem. He had to eat his food as those in Jerusalem would eat. There would not be enough food or water in the city. They would tremble because of their fear and despair. So, Ezekiel ate his food and he trembled as with fear. He showed the fear that the people in Jerusalem would feel. Then he explained to the *exiles what his actions meant.

The land would produce no food for the *Israelites. Their own actions had spoiled the land. Those who lived in the country were wicked and cruel. The enemy would strip the country. That is, the *Babylonians would take away everything that had any value. They would destroy all the cities. Nobody would remain there in the country.

What Ezekiel said to them would happen. Then they would know that God is the *Lord.

These things will happen soon – Ezekiel 12:21-28

v21 The *LORD spoke to me again. v22 ‘*Son of man, you people in the country called *Israel like to say: “Each day ends and none of the *visions and *prophecies actually happen.” v23 Therefore say to them, “The *LORD your King says. I will stop them so that they will not say this. Nobody in *Israel will say it again.” However, tell them, “The time is near. What the *visions and *prophecies spoke about will happen soon. v24 There will be no more false *visions among the *Israelites. And there will be no more false *prophecies that seem pleasant. v25 I, the *LORD, shall speak. And whatever I say will happen. There will be no more delay. It will happen during your lives, you people who refuse to obey me. I will say what will happen. And I will do it, says the *LORD your King.” ’

v26 The *LORD spoke to me again. v27 ‘*Son of man, this is what the *Israelites say: “What Ezekiel sees, will happen many years from now. What he *prophesies is about a future time.”

v28 Therefore say to them, “This is what the *LORD your King says. There will be no delay in what I say. All that I speak will happen. The *LORD your King has spoken and he will do it.” ’

Verses 21-25 The *exiles with Ezekiel did not believe the *prophecies that he brought to them. There had been so many such *prophecies in the past. What the *prophets said had not yet happened. The delay made the people think that nothing would happen. Often the people said, ‘Each day ends, and none of the *visions actually happen.’ They refused to believe that any of these *prophecies were true. They did not think that they had any cause to worry.

There had been many false *prophets. They had told the people the kind of things that they (the people) wanted to hear. They believed these false *prophets. But they refused to believe the true words of the *Lord. This is what they were saying: ‘God will not punish us. We are God’s people. God will not destroy Jerusalem. It is the city of God.’

They were wrong. God would do all that he had said. He would punish them. His people did not obey him. He would destroy Jerusalem. God had been patient with them for a long time. But they had not *turned back to him. There would be no more delay. All these terrible things would happen soon; and they would see them.

Verses 26-28 Some people did believe what Ezekiel said. But they thought that it was for a future time. They said: ‘It will happen many years in the future. We need not worry. It will not happen while we are alive.’

God’s answer was that there would be no delay. These things would happen soon. God said it and God would do it.

Chapter 13

God will punish the false *prophets – Ezekiel 13:1-23

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy against the *prophets of *Israel who are now *prophesying. Speak to those who make up their own *prophecies. Say to them, “Hear the word of the *LORD.” v3 This is what the *LORD your King says. Life will be terrible for the foolish *prophets. They follow their own ideas. They have not received a message from me. v4 *Israelites, your *prophets are like foxes in the deserts. v5 You have not gone up to repair the holes or to build the wall. So, the nation called *Israel cannot defend itself. It will not stand in the day of battle that the *LORD will send against it. v6 Your *prophets see false and vain things and they *prophesy lies. They say, “This is the message from the *LORD.” But the *LORD has not sent them. But still they hope that their *prophecies will happen. v7 You said, “This is the message from the *LORD.” But that was not true. It was false. Your *prophecies are lies, because I have not spoken to you.

v8 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. You *prophets spoke false and vain things. Your *visions are lies that will not happen. Therefore, I am against you, says the *LORD your King. v9 I will punish the false *prophets. They see false *visions that will not happen. And they *prophesy lies. They will not be among my people when they come together. They will not be in the register of the *Israelites. They will never return to the country called *Israel. Then you will know that I am the *LORD your King.

v10 They lead my people to do the wrong things. They promise peace, when there is no peace. Suppose that someone builds a weak wall. Then those *prophets behave like someone who covers the cracks with paint. v11 Speak to those who cover a weak wall with paint. Tell them that the wall will fall down. Heavy rain will pour down. There will be rain with ice and strong winds. The storms will break the wall in pieces. v12 When the wall falls, people will accuse you. They will say, “You covered the wall with paint. But your paint achieved nothing.’’

v13 So this is what the *LORD your King says. I will send a stormy wind. Because of my anger, rain and ice will pour down and they will destroy the wall. v14 I will break in pieces the wall that the *prophets covered with paint. I will remove it completely so that the earth will be level. Only the base of the wall will remain in the ground. When it falls, it will *destroy you completely. And you will know that I am the *LORD. v15 So, I will complete my anger against the wall and against those who covered it with paint. Then I will say to you, “The wall does not still exist. Those who covered it with paint have also gone.” v16 That will be the end of those *prophets of *Israel, who *prophesied to Jerusalem. They saw *visions of peace for the city when there was no peace. That is what the *LORD your King says.’

v17 ‘Now, *son of man, there are women among your people who *prophesy. But they are making up their own *prophecies. You must *prophesy against them. v18 Say, “This is what the *LORD your King says. How terrible it will be for women who sew pieces of magic cloth for their arms. They also make cloths of many sizes for their heads in order to control other people. You ruin the lives of my people but you try to save your own lives. v19 You insult me among my people for a little *barley and some bread. You lie to my people and they listen to your lies. By this means, you have killed people who should not have died. And you have kept people alive who should not live.

v20 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. I am against your magic things, which you use to control other people. It is as if those people are like birds in your traps. I will tear the pieces of magic cloth from your arms. I will free those people whom you control like birds in a trap. v21 I will also tear off your head cloths. I will save my people from your hands. They will no more be in your power. Then you will know that I am the *LORD. v22 By your lies, you have caused good people to be sad. I did not make them sad. You have encouraged wicked people in their *sin. So, they did not *turn from their wicked behaviour in order to save their lives. v23 Therefore, you women will no longer see false *visions. You will not be able to *prophesy still. I will save my people from your power. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.” ’ 

Verses 1-3 The *exiles thought that they were safe. The terrible things that Ezekiel spoke about would not happen to them. They believed this because of the words of false *prophets. These *prophets had caused the people to trust in lies. These *prophets gave messages of hope to the people; but God had not spoken to them.

The *Lord told Ezekiel to *prophesy against the *prophets. The source of their *prophecies was their own minds. They had not heard from the *Lord. Perhaps they imagined that these *prophecies were from the *Lord. But they had made them up. To speak as if the *prophecies were from the *Lord was both false and foolish.

And the *Lord would punish them for it.

Verse 4 Ezekiel compares the *prophets to foxes. Foxes are clever as they hunt for food. But they kill more than they need. They cause a lot of damage. So, these *prophets caused the people to suffer because of their lies. They did not care about the country or about the people in Judah. By their false *prophecies, they caused terrible troubles for the people and the country.

Verse 5 The *prophets should have helped the people to obey God. They should have taught the people to obey the agreement with God. If they had done so, *Israel would have been safe. Nobody could have defeated them. But the *prophets did not warn the people.

If the wall of a city has holes in it, the enemy can get in. The city would not be able to defend itself. So, the *Israelites will be unable to defend themselves when the *Lord acts against them.

Verses 6-7 What a true *prophet says does happen. But events would prove that these *prophets were false. They spoke about a happy and peaceful future. They hoped that it would be so. However, there would be no peace. They said that the *Lord had sent them. But the *Lord neither sent them nor spoke to them.

Verses 8-9 The false *prophets said that they spoke the words of God. But what they said did not come from God. Any *visions that they saw were not from God. All their *prophecies were lies. They spoke about future events. But none of these would actually happen.

They pretended that they were speaking on God’s behalf. But God had not spoken to them. What they said was just lies. So, God said that he would punish these false *prophets.

The people used to respect them. They were men who had authority in *Israel. But they would lose all the honour and authority that they had. God would remove the names of these false *prophets from the list of his people. They would not be among the *Lord’s people. And they would never return to the country called *Israel.

Verses 10-16 What the *prophets were telling the people was not true. They did not warn the people to *turn back to the *Lord. They did not tell the people that God would punish them. They talked about peace; but in fact, there would be a terrible war. The people believed their lies. God was angry, because these were his people.

The *prophets were like bad workers who build a weak wall. This would be a dry-stone wall (a wall without cement) that has gaps in it. They ought to repair the cracks. Instead, they paint over them. They hide the cracks in the wall. So the *prophets were speaking nice words to hide the truth. They should have told the truth. Perhaps the people would have *turned back to God and he would have saved them.

Such a weak wall will fall down. Rain and wind will beat against it. Water in it will turn to ice. This will make the cracks larger. The storm will destroy it and it will fall down. The workers who painted over the cracks are to blame. The ‘wall’ meant Jerusalem. God would break the wall. He would destroy it with rain, wind and ice. That means, terrible troubles. God’s anger would be like a storm that destroys a wall.

God would destroy the peace that the *prophets promised. That was like the paint on the wall. God would destroy the city called Jerusalem. He would break down the walls of the city. When the walls fell, God would *destroy the false *prophets also. They would not live.

Verses 17-19 There were also women who *prophesied to the people. They pretended to speak the words of the *Lord. But their words came from their own imagination. They were using all kinds of magic. God gave the law by Moses. The law says that people must not use this magic (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

These women made cloths for their arms. They put special cloths over their heads. They spoke wicked things to the people. They caught people as in a trap by their magic. They ruined the lives of other people for their own profit.

They used *barley in their magic. By this means, they would tell the future. But all this was of the devil and not from God. They lied. But the people believed that they spoke from God.

The power of their magic was such that it caused people to die. In effect, they killed people who should not have died.

Verses 20-21 God hated what these women did. By their magic, they caught and controlled the minds of people. God would end their power and he would destroy their magic. He would remove the pieces of magic cloth from their arms. He would take the special cloths from their heads. In other words, he would take away from them the power of their magic. He would free those whom they had controlled.

He would save his people. His power is much greater than the power of magic. God will show that he is the *Lord.

Verses 22-23 These women *prophets by their lies upset the good people. They *turned people away from God. They encouraged wicked people not to *turn from their *sin. As a result, many people died because they had *turned from God.

God would cause the false *visions to stop. These women will not be able to *prophesy. They will lose their control over the people. Then all people will know that he is *Lord. 

Chapter 14

Wicked leaders – Ezekiel 14:1-23

v1 Some of *Israel's leaders came to me and they sat down in front of me. v2 Then the *LORD spoke to me. v3 ‘*Son of man, these men have *worshipped false gods in their hearts. They put up evil things that cause people to *sin. I should not let them inquire of me. v4 Therefore, speak to them. Say, “This is what the *LORD your King says. The *Israelites *worship false gods in their hearts. And they put up evil things that cause people to *sin. Then they come to inquire of the *prophet. But I, the *LORD, will answer them myself for their many false gods. v5 Then I will win back my people called *Israel. They have left me because of all their false gods.”

v6 So, speak to the *Israelites. “The *LORD your King says that you must change your hearts and lives. *Turn away from your false gods. Stop doing all the things that I hate.”

v7 People separate themselves from me when they *worship false gods in their hearts. And they put up evil things that cause people to *sin. Then they may go to the *prophet to inquire of me. If they do, I, the *LORD, will answer them. I will answer whether they are *Israelites or foreigners in *Israel. v8 I will oppose them. I will separate them from my people. And I will punish them. The effect will be such that many people will see it. They will talk about it as a terrible thing. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.’

v9 ‘But the *prophet may give a false *prophecy. Then, it is I, the *LORD, who allowed that *prophet to lie. And I will use my power against him. I will *destroy him from among my people called *Israel. v10 The *prophet will be as guilty as the person who asks him for help. I will punish both of them. v11 I do this so that the *Israelites will not *turn from me again. They will not do those things that I hate. They will *turn away from their *sin. Then they shall be my people. And I will be their God, says the *LORD your King.’

v12 The *LORD spoke to me. v13 ‘*Son of man, when the people in a country *sin against me, I will use my power against them. They have not been loyal to me. So, I will cut off their supply of food. Both they and their animals will die because of hunger. v14 Even if Noah, Daniel and Job were living there, their goodness would save only their own lives. This is what the *LORD your King says.

v15 Or I might send wild animals into that country. They would leave the land empty and without children. Then nobody would pass through that land because of the animals. v16 I am the God who lives. And this is what I, the *LORD your King, declare to you. Even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in the country, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They could save only themselves, but that country would be empty.

v17 Or I might bring a war against that country. I might say, “Let there be a war in that country.” In this way, I might kill its people and their animals. v18 I am the God who lives. And this is what I, the *LORD your King, declare to you. Even if those three men were in the country, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They could save only themselves.

v19 Or I might cause a disease to spread in that country. I might *pour out my anger against it in order to *destroy it. In this way, I might kill the people and their animals. v20 I am the God who lives. And this is what I, the *LORD your King, declare to you. Even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in the country, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They could save only themselves because of their goodness.

v21 This is what the *LORD your King says. It will be much worse for Jerusalem. I will send my 4 terrible punishments against it. They are war, hunger, wild animals and disease. I will *destroy the people and their animals. v22 But some people will escape. Some sons and daughters will come out of the city. They will come out to you. You will see their deeds and how they lived. After all the terrible things that I brought upon Jerusalem, this will be a comfort to you. You will know why I did all these terrible things. v23 You will see what happens to them. And that will be a comfort to you. You will see how they lived. You will see what they have done. You will know that I have done nothing without cause. There is a good reason for what I did to Jerusalem. I, the *LORD your King, declare this to you.’

Verses 1-5 These men were the leaders of the *Israelites who were in *exile. They came to Ezekiel to ask him about his *prophecies. They recognised that Ezekiel was the *prophet of God to the *exiles. So, they had come to him to inquire of the *Lord. However, they were not sincere. They did not really want to obey the *Lord. But they expected Ezekiel to give them some message of hope for the future.

God showed Ezekiel the inner thoughts of these men. In their hearts, they *worshipped false gods. Their desire for false gods had led them to *sin. And they had caused the people to *turn from God. They could have no right to expect anything from the *Lord. But, they had come to inquire of the *Lord God.

There was no good reason why God should listen to them. God knows the thoughts of all people. He knows what they think. And he knows what is in their hearts. These leaders were insulting God when they inquired of him with false gods in their hearts. But God did answer these leaders. He would punish them for their *worship of false gods. But his purpose was to persuade them to return to the real God. The people had left God because of the false gods. But God still loved his people and he wanted them to come back to him.

Verse 6 Some of the leaders had come to Ezekiel. But the message from God was for all the people. That message was that they must come back to God. They must *repent of what they had done. They could not serve false gods and the *Lord God. They must *turn from all their false gods. They must stop doing the things that the *Lord hates. They must obey the *Lord. They must do what pleases him.

Verses 7-8 It is not possible to serve false gods and the *Lord God. People who serve false gods have *turned away from the real God. They cause other people to *sin as well. The *Lord will punish such people. He will remove them from among the *Israelites. They will not be among God’s people.

Other people will see how God has punished them. They will see how terrible it is. But they will know that God is the *Lord.

Verses 9-11 What the false *prophets said had caused the people to *sin. They had told the people what the people wanted to hear. They did not speak the words of God. God could have stopped these *prophets. But he permitted them to speak their lies. We should test what *prophets tell us. We need to be sure that they speak the truth from God (1 John 4:1).

The *Lord will punish these false *prophets. He will remove them from among his people. He will *destroy them. Both the false *prophets and those people who follow them are guilty of *sin. God will *destroy them both.

The *Israelites will see this. And maybe they will return to the *Lord. The purpose of God is that the *Israelites should come back to him. They should *turn from all the bad things that that they have done. Then they can be God’s people again. The *Lord will accept them and he will be their God.

Verses 12-14 The people in *Israel had *turned against God. They had not been loyal to God. So, he would fight against them with his great power. He would stop their supplies of food. The people and their animals would die of hunger.

Maybe if some good men were there, they could save the country. (Compare Genesis 18:23-32.) Noah had been a good man. He obeyed God and God saved him and his family from the flood. Daniel trusted God. He was a great man. He was at that time in Babylon. (But it is not certain that Ezekiel meant that Daniel.) Job was a good man who served God. When he had great troubles, he still trusted God. If these three men were there, God would save them. But even they could not save the people.

The people believed that God could not destroy Jerusalem. God had chosen it for himself. His *temple was there and his *glory was present there. But God had said that he would destroy Jerusalem. God’s *glory would leave the *temple (chapter 11). And nothing could prevent the punishment of Jerusalem.

Verses 15-20 Each of these 4 *disasters would happen in Jerusalem and in the country called Judah. There would be hunger and many people would die. There would be wild animals and they would kill many people. There would be war and the armies would kill many people. And there would be disease that would kill many people.

Probably the *exiles with Ezekiel had family members who were still in Jerusalem. They hoped to see them again. But there was no hope. Those who remained in Jerusalem would suffer these 4 *disasters.

Even if Noah, Daniel and Job were there, they could not save even their own children. God would save them because they obeyed him. But their children would die. They would die of hunger. Or they would die by wild animals. Or they would die in war. Or they would die by disease.

Verse 21-23 The previous verses had not mentioned Jerusalem and Judah by name. But now God says that he will bring these 4 *disasters on Jerusalem. But a few people will escape. The *Lord will send them into *exile in Babylon.

Then the *exiles will see how evil were the deeds of those in Jerusalem. They will understand why God punished them. They will know that God was right to do it. The people in Jerusalem and Judah deserved it.

God does not punish for no reason. He had been kind to these people for a long time. But now God had to act because the *sins of the people were so severe. They did not deserve to live.

Chapter 15

A *vine without fruit – Ezekiel 15:1-8

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, the wood of the *vine is much poorer than the wood from any tree in the forest. v3 You certainly cannot use the wood from the *vine to make anything. You cannot use it to make something to hang things on. v4 You can put it on the fire as fuel. Both ends burn but the middle does not burn well. No, it is no use for anything. v5 When the *vine was whole, you could make nothing from it. It is even less use when the fire has burned it.

v6 Therefore, this is what the *LORD the King says. Among all the trees in the forest, I have given the *vine as fuel for the fire. In the same way, I have given up the people who live in Jerusalem. v7 I will be an enemy to the people in Jerusalem. Although they escape from the fire, still the fire will *destroy them. I will be their enemy. And then you will know that I am the *LORD. v8 So, I will make the country empty, because the people have not been loyal. I, the *LORD the King, have spoken.’

Verses 1-5 The *vine is a bush. *Grapes grow on *vines. We eat *grapes as fresh fruit. We dry them to use as fruit when we cook. And from *grapes, we also make wine. So, the *vine is an important plant. But if it has no fruit, it is not useful for anything.

The wood of the *vine is not useful for any purpose. Its wood is too soft and weak. So, we can make nothing from it. The branches bend and they are not straight. They do not even burn well. But it is fit for nothing else.

In the picture language of the Bible, the *vine often means *Israel. The *Israelites were no better than other people. But God had chosen them. As a *vine yields fruit, so God wanted them to do his work. In particular, God wanted them to show him to the world. But they had neglected to do it. Therefore, they were of no use like the *vine without fruit.

Verses 6-8 The farmer cuts down the *vine that has no fruit. He throws the wood on the fire. So, the *Lord will cut down and burn Jerusalem. *Israel had lost all value in the sight of the *Lord. It was only fit for the fire.

Ezekiel refers to two fires in this passage. The second one would burn those people who escaped the first one. The first fire refers to the attack on Jerusalem in the year 597 *BC. The second one refers to the attack on Jerusalem in 586 *BC. Ezekiel was speaking to the *exiles from the first attack in 597 *BC. He was telling them that the final attack on Jerusalem would happen soon. God would destroy Jerusalem.

The fate of Jerusalem is because the people were not loyal to God. They had not obeyed God. As they had *turned from him, so the *Lord has *turned against them.

All this will happen. And they will know that the *Lord is God.

Chapter 16

Jerusalem is like a *prostitute – Ezekiel 16:1-63

·  Through this whole chapter, the *Lord speaks to Jerusalem as if the city were a woman. So, in this chapter, the word ‘you’ means the city and its inhabitants. The *Lord uses this description to emphasise how much the inhabitants of Jerusalem had disappointed him. He looked after them since the origin of their nation. He loved them and he made special promises to them. But they were not loyal to him. They preferred false gods. And they did so many things that upset him greatly.

(1) The birth of Jerusalem – Ezekiel 16:1-5

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, speak to the people in Jerusalem. Tell them about the disgusting things that they have done. v3 Say: This is what the *LORD your King says to Jerusalem. Your origin and your birth were in the country called Canaan. Your father was an *Amorite, and your mother was a *Hittite. v4 On the day that you were born, nobody cut your *umbilical cord. Nobody washed you with water to clean you. Nobody put salt on you or wrapped you in cloths. v5 Nobody who saw you pitied you. Nobody was kind enough to do any of these things for you. Instead, they threw you out into the open field. They hated you on the day that you were born.’

Verses 1-2 The *Lord told Ezekiel to speak to the people in Jerusalem. He had to show them how bad they had been. This chapter is about Jerusalem but it includes Judah as well. Ezekiel writes about its history. And so, he shows how bad it has been. Jerusalem is like a wife who has not been loyal to her husband. God’s people had gone after (chosen to serve) foreign gods.

Verses 3-5 *Amorite and *Hittite were general names for the people in Canaan before the time of Abraham. These people built the city that became Jerusalem. They lived in the country that became Judah. The *Israelite nation had its origin there, in that country. At first, the *Israelites were weak and there were not many of them. They had no strength and they could not defend themselves. The picture in words is that they were like a weak baby. And nobody wanted that baby. In other words, the other people in the country hated them.

The custom in those days was to wash the new baby. The nurse would cut the *umbilical cord. She would wipe it with salt and oil. Then she would wrap it in cloths. She would repeat this each 7 days until the baby was 40 days old. But if the parents did not want the child, they would leave it at birth. They would not wash it. They would not clean it with salt. They would not cut the *umbilical cord. They would throw it out into the fields. Because they neglected the baby, it would die soon.

Jerusalem (or *Israel) was like a baby that nobody wanted. Nobody would take care of it.

(2) The marriage of Jerusalem – Ezekiel 16:6-14

v6 ‘I passed by and I saw you there. You were kicking about in your blood. You lay there in your blood. I said to you, “Live.” Yes, I said, “Live.” I would not let you die there in your own blood. v7 I made you grow like a plant in the field. You grew up to be a tall and beautiful woman. Your breasts grew firm and your hair had grown. But you were naked and without clothes.

v8 Later I passed by and I looked at you. I saw that you were old enough for love. So, I spread my coat over you to cover you. I promised to love you and we agreed together. You became mine, says the *LORD your King.

v9 Then I bathed you with water. I washed all the blood off you. I put sweet oil on your skin. v10 I put beautiful and good clothes on you. I gave you shoes of the best leather. I dressed you in fine clothes and I covered you with silk. v11 I gave you beautiful things to wear. I put rings on your hands and a nice chain round your neck. v12 I put a ring on your nose and pretty things on your ears. And I put a beautiful crown on your head. v13 So you wore gold and silver. Your clothes were of fine cloth, silk, and beautiful work. You ate fine flour, honey and oil. You were very beautiful and became a queen. v14 Because of your beauty, your fame spread among the nations. Your beauty was perfect, because I gave it to you. It was my *glory, says the *LORD your King.’

Verses 6-7 The *Lord passed by the baby that would die soon. However, the *Lord would not let it die. He rescued the child from certain death. He gave it life. The child grew up. It was like a beautiful woman. But she did not dress as a woman should dress.

The *Israelites went to Egypt. There were not many of them. But in Egypt they increased in number. They were slaves there. They did not have the wealth or the culture that a young nation ought to have.

Verses 8-14 The *Lord saw that the young woman was ready to be married. To spread a coat over the young woman was a custom that had special meaning. That was how a man proposed marriage to a woman (Ruth 3:9). As in a marriage, the *Lord made promises to *Israel. And *Israel made promises to the *Lord. They had an agreement by which *Israel became special to the *Lord.

The *Lord rescued *Israel from Egypt. The *Lord brought *Israel through the water of the Red Sea. He gave the law to *Israel at a mountain called Mount Sinai. *Israel promised to obey him and to *worship him. And he led *Israel to the land that he had promised. He made *Israel wealthy.

A rich man gives so many gifts to his bride. He gives her rich clothes and rings. He provides the best food for her to eat. A king gives a crown to his bride and he makes her his queen. So, the *Lord was kind to *Israel more than he was to any other nation. This shows the kindness and love of God for *Israel. *Israel became great because the *Lord made *Israel great.

*Israel reached its greatest *glory at the time of King Solomon.

(3) Jerusalem the *prostitute – Ezekiel 16:15-34

v15 ‘But you trusted in your beauty. You became a *prostitute because of your fame. So, you had sex with every man who came along. v16 You took some of your clothes to add colour to your high places. There you had sex with these men. These things should not happen. They should never be. v17 You took off the beautiful gold and silver things that I had given to you. With these things, you made images of men. And then you acted as a *prostitute with them. v18 Then you took your beautiful clothes and you covered the images. You offered my oil and *incense as a gift to them. v19 I gave you bread, fine flour, oil and honey to eat. But you offered them to these gods so that the smell would please them. This is what happened, says the *LORD your King.

v20 But your *sins of sex were not enough for you. You took my children, your sons and daughters. You killed them and you gave them as food to these false gods. v21 You killed my children and you offered them up in fire to the false gods. v22 You did all those disgusting things and you carried out *sins of sex. But you did not remember the days when you were young. Then you were naked and you lay in your blood.

v23 How terrible! How terrible it will be for you, says the *LORD your King. You did all these evil things. v24 Also, you built yourself a platform and you made a high place in every street. v25 You built these places of *worship at the start of every street. You showed your beauty in a disgusting way. You offered to have sex with all who passed by. So, you increased your *sins. v26 You also had sex with the *Egyptians. They were your neighbours and partners in *sins of sex. You did more and more of these *sins in order to make me angry. v27 I lifted my hand to punish you and I took away some of your country. I handed you over to the *Philistines, who hated you. They were ashamed of your wicked behaviour. v28 You also had sex with the *Assyrians because you could not be *satisfied. Even after you had sex with them, you still were not *satisfied. v29 You had more sex with Babylonia, the nation of merchants. But even this did not satisfy you.

v30 You are such a weak person, says the *LORD your King. You do all these things, as a woman who is a *prostitute. v31 You built your places to *worship gods at the start of every street. You made your high places in every square in the city. But, when you did these things, you were not behaving like a *prostitute. Nobody paid you to do these things.

v32 So you are like a wife who is guilty of wrong sex. You desire strange men rather than your own husband. v33 Men pay *prostitutes. But you pay all your lovers to come to you. And they come from many places to have sex with you. v34 So, you are different from other women who sell their bodies for sex. Men do not ask you for sex. You pay them money to have sex with you. You do not ask them to pay you. Yes, you are different.’

Verse 15 God had told the people in *Israel that they must obey him. And he warned them about the results if they did not follow his law. God gave them the country that he had promised to them. They received all these benefits but then they refused to obey God. They were behaving like a woman who is proud about her own beauty. And they forgot that God had given all those beautiful things to them. From the time of Solomon, the nation *turned away from God. They began to *worship all the gods of the other countries. They were not loyal to God. They were like a wife who has sex with many other men.

Verses 16-22 On the high places, the *Israelites built *altars to the foreign gods. They made images of these gods, which they put on the high places. They made these gods beautiful. There they *worshipped the gods. Such *worship is like sex with other men. The *Lord acted as *Israel’s husband. But the *Israelites were like *prostitutes when they *worshipped false gods.

God had given so much to them. But they took what God gave to them. And they used his gifts to *worship foreign gods.

Worst of all, they gave their children as gifts to the false gods. There was the *worship of the god called Molech. In this *worship, they had to kill children. Then they burned the bodies in front of the false god.

*Israel was behaving like a woman who had forgotten (neglected totally) her relationship with her husband. In other words, *Israel had forgotten her (*Israel’s) God. She (*Israel) had forgotten what he had done for her. She did not remember how he rescued her. All that she had was the result of the kindness of God. And now she gave it all to the false gods.

Verses 23-25 The *Israelites built high places on every street corner. They made these for all the false gods of their neighbours (in other words, the countries that were near *Israel). A *prostitute offers herself to the men that pass by. So, the people in *Israel offered themselves to the foreign gods. They got worse and worse in their wicked behaviour.

The *Lord had warned them not to *worship other gods. They did not obey him. He would punish them and it would be terrible.

Verses 26-29 *Israel should have trusted God for security. But the nation did not. Instead, Jeroboam and other kings *turned to Egypt for help. This made God very angry. To punish *Israel, he sent the *Philistines to oppose *Israel. The *Philistines defeated the *Israelites and took some of the land. This should have caused *Israel to change but it did not. *Israel continued to trust in other nations and not in the *Lord God.

When it suited *Israel, the nation *turned to Assyria. This happened when Ahab and Manasseh ruled in *Israel. After this, *Israel *turned to the *Babylonians. Each time *Israel took their culture and their gods. The *Israelites tried to mix their religions with the *worship of the real God. But we can never mix good and bad things. We cannot *worship and serve the real God and false gods (Matthew 6:24).

Verses 30-34 The *Lord told *Israel that she (*Israel) was weak and foolish. She did not love the *Lord God. Like a wife who is not loyal, she *turned to other gods. It is normal for a *prostitute to receive gifts or money for sex. But *Israel had to pay the nations to come to her. She sent gold and silver to Assyria and to Egypt. The *Babylonians took all the gold from the *temple. She tried to get help from them but they all became her enemies.

Her (*Israel’s) affairs with the nations did not achieve what she wanted. They could not satisfy her. To God she was guilty and without excuse.

(4) The *Lord will punish Jerusalem – Ezekiel 16:35-43

v35 ‘Therefore, you *prostitute, hear what the *LORD says to you. v36 This is what the *LORD your King says. You poured out your evil acts like water. You took off your clothes and you had sex with your lovers. You were naked in front of your false gods, which I hate. You killed your children and you offered their blood to your gods. v37 So I will gather all your lovers whom you enjoyed. I will gather all those whom you loved. And I will gather all those whom you hated. I will strip off your clothes and let them see you naked. v38 I will punish you as a wife guilty of sex with other men. I will punish you because you are guilty of murder. I am so angry with you. And I will put you to death because you have not been loyal to me. v39 I will hand you over to your lovers. They will tear down your platforms and they will destroy your high places. They will strip you of your clothes and they will take your beautiful things. They will leave you naked and bare. v40 They will bring a crowd against you. These people will throw stones at you. They will cut you into pieces with their swords. v41 They will burn down your houses. They will punish you in front of many women. So I shall stop you; and you will never be a *prostitute again . You will never again pay lovers to have sex with you. v42 Then my anger against you will end. I will not still worry that I will lose you. I will be quiet and not angry.

v43 You did not remember the days of your youth. But you made me angry about all these things. Therefore, I will punish you. I will make you suffer because of all your deeds, says the *LORD your King. You added *sins of sex to all your other acts which I hate.’

Verses 35-43 *Israel had chosen to follow the wicked behaviour of the other nations. So, she (*Israel) gave herself to them. It was as if she handed herself over to them. She had followed their wicked behaviour and she served their gods. So, God would use those nations to punish her. They would strip her bare of all her valuable things. They would destroy all the high places. They would burn her houses. People would know that this punishment was from God. *Israel acted like a wife who is not loyal to her husband. She (*Israel) had left her God and *turned to many false gods. All the people will know about her *sins. And they will see her punishment.

In *Israel, the people would punish a wife who was guilty of these *sins. They would strip her of her clothes in public. Then they would throw stones at her until she died (Leviticus 20:10; John 8:5).

The first part of this punishment happened when the *Assyrians destroyed the northern part of *Israel in 722 *BC. They took away the people from *Israel. The *Babylonians carried out the punishment of Judah. They attacked Jerusalem in the year 586 *BC. They took most of the people who were still alive to Babylon. Their families were in *exile there for 70 years.

After this, the *Israelites will *turn again to their God. His anger will end and he will accept them. They will never follow the false gods of the nations again.

(5) Jerusalem is like Samaria and Sodom – Ezekiel 16:44-58

v44 ‘People who use words of wise men will say this about you, “Like mother, like daughter.” v45 You are the daughter of your mother. She hated her husband and her children. You are the sister of your sisters. They hated their husbands and their children. Your mother was a *Hittite and your father was an *Amorite. v46 Your older sister is Samaria. She lived north of you with her daughters. Your younger sister is Sodom. She lived south of you with her daughters. v47 You followed their manner of life and their wicked customs. Soon you were worse than they were in all your deeds. v48 The *LORD your King who lives declares this: Your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.

v49 I will show you the *sin of your sister Sodom and her daughters. They were proud and they had plenty of food. They lived in great comfort. But they did not help poor people or those who needed help. v50 They were proud. And they did things that I hate in front of me. I saw what they did. So, I removed them. v51 Samaria did not do half the *sins that you do. You have done more disgusting things than they did. Because of all your evil deeds, your sisters seem to be good when I compare them to you. v52 You will suffer much shame. By your wicked deeds, you have provided an excuse for your sisters. They are better than you are. Your *sins were even more terrible than theirs were. You should be ashamed. When I compare you with your sisters, they seem to be good.

v53 But I will give back to Sodom and her daughters the good things that they once had. And I will give back to Samaria and her daughters the good things that they once had. And I will bring you back again. I will give to you the good things that you once had. v54 Then you will be ashamed for all the things that you have done. You even give comfort to your sisters in their *sins. v55 Your sisters, Sodom and Samaria with their daughters, will return to what they were before. You and your daughters will also return to what you were before. v56 You were too proud to speak about your sister Sodom. v57 But that changed when I showed up your evil behaviour. Now the *Edomite women and their neighbours insult you and they joke about you. The *Philistine women and all who are about you hate you. v58 You must suffer for your disgusting *sins and for all the deeds that I hate. The *LORD has spoken.’

Verses 44-48 The *Lord shows that Jerusalem (or Judah) was worse than Sodom and Samaria (*Israel).

After King Solomon, *Israel divided into two nations. The 10 *tribes of *Israel to the north became *Israel. The two *tribes that remained loyal to King Rehoboam became Judah. It is confusing that both Judah and *Israel are part of *Israel. So, the term ‘the *Israelites’ refers to Judah and to all of the 12 *tribes of *Israel.

The *Hittites and the *Amorites were the people who were in the country called Canaan. The Sodomites (people from Sodom) and the *Israelites also had their origin in that country. That was where they began. The *Hittites and the *Amorites served many false gods. ‘Like mother like daughter’ meant that the daughters would be like their mothers. Therefore, Samaria, Sodom and Jerusalem *turned from God to many false gods.

Samaria (*Israel, which was to the north of Judah) is called the older sister. Samaria was larger and stronger than Judah was. Sodom (which was to the south of Judah) is called the younger sister. Sodom was smaller and not as strong.

God destroyed Sodom because Sodom was so wicked (Genesis chapter 19). The *Assyrians defeated Samaria (*Israel) and they took the people from their country. God had punished both Sodom and Samaria for the evil things that they had done. But Jerusalem (Judah) was now more wicked than either Sodom or Samaria.

Verses 49-50 The chief *sin of Sodom was that she (Sodom) was proud. She had all that she needed. She had an easy (comfortable) life. She thought that she was safe. But she did not think about poor people or those who needed help. To her wealth and luxury, she added sex. In Sodom, men had sex with men (Genesis 19:5). God hated such *sin so he destroyed Sodom.

Verses 51-52 Samaria (*Israel) *turned from God and served other gods. She (Samaria) had gone to the nations and she did not trust in God. Her *sins were so bad that God sent her away. But the *sins of Jerusalem (Judah) were twice as bad. She (Jerusalem) was so bad that her wicked sisters (Sodom and Samaria) seemed to be quite good. So, Jerusalem will suffer for what she (Jerusalem) has done. She did not learn from what happened to her sisters (Sodom and Samaria).

Verses 53-55 This is the only place in the Bible where the *Lord makes promises to Sodom. He makes similar promises to both Samaria and Jerusalem. God will bring the people back to Sodom, Samaria and Jerusalem. But before this, the *Lord will destroy Jerusalem as he had destroyed Sodom and Samaria.

When Jerusalem (Judah) was more wicked, it made Sodom and Samaria feel less guilty. So, Jerusalem’s evil deeds gave some comfort to them.

Verses 56-58 The people in Judah were too proud to speak well about Sodom. But now they knew that they were worse than Sodom. Because they were proud. they had spoken evil things against Sodom. Now their neighbours (the nations near Judah) spoke the same things against them. And they deserved all that the neighbours said.

Jerusalem could not avoid the punishment for its wicked behaviour.

(6) The *Lord will make a new agreement with Jerusalem – Ezekiel 16:59-63

v59 ‘This is what the *LORD your King says. I will do to you what you deserve. You hated the agreement that we had made. You promised to obey it but you did not do so. v60 But I will remember my agreement that I made with you. That was when you were young. I will make an agreement with you that will never end. v61 Then you will remember what you have done. You will feel ashamed when I return your sisters to you. I will give both your older sister and your younger sister to you. And they will be like daughters to you. But they will not have any part in my agreement with you. v62 So, I will make my agreement with you. And you will know that I am the *LORD. v63 I will forgive you for all the things that you have done. Then you will remember what you did. And you will be ashamed. You will not open your mouth again because of your shame. This is what the *LORD your King says.’

Verses 59-63 The *Israelites had made an agreement with God. They had promised to obey all that was in the agreement (Exodus 24:7). If they did well, God would show his kindness to them. If they did not obey, God would punish them. They promised to obey but they did not. So, God would punish them. He would do what was in the agreement.

God would not neglect to perform his promises in that agreement. But he will make a new one with his people. This new agreement will last for all time. God will forgive his people for all the evil things that they had done. Then they will know that he is the *Lord (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13).

At that time, the people in Judah will remember what they had done. They will be ashamed of their past. They will accept their sisters, that is, Sodom and Samaria. But Sodom and Samaria will be as daughters rather than as sisters to Jerusalem.

Chapter 17

·  This chapter contains a puzzle and its meaning. Two powerful nations ruled the region about Judah. And these two nations opposed each other. These nations were Egypt and Babylon. The king of Judah had promised to be loyal to the king of Babylon. But the king of Judah did not do as he had promised. So, the king of Babylon would destroy Judah.

·  However, the *Lord was also making promises. And the *Lord always performs his promises. In time, he would re-establish *Israel. And his king, the *Messiah, would rule *Israel.

A story about two *eagles – Ezekiel 17:1-24

(1) Two large *eagles – Ezekiel 17:1-10                   

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, give this puzzle to the nation called *Israel. Tell them this story. v3 Say to them, “This is what the *LORD your King says. There was a large *eagle. It had strong wings with long feathers of many colours. It flew to Lebanon where it grasped the top of a *cedar tree. v4 It pulled off the top branch. It brought the branch to a country of merchants. There he planted it in the city of merchants.

v5 The *eagle also took some seed from the country. He planted the seed in a good field near plenty of water. He planted it like a *willow tree by a stream. v6 It grew and it became a low *vine. It spread over the ground. The branches grew toward the *eagle, and the roots grew deep below him. So, the seed became a *vine. And its branches grew and they sent out leaves.

v7 But there was another large *eagle with strong wings and many feathers. Then the *vine bent its roots toward this *eagle. The *vine also turned its branches toward him. The *vine turned from where the first *eagle had planted it. The *vine turned to the second *eagle so that he might water it. v8 The first *eagle had planted the *vine in a good field by plenty of water. So, it could grow branches and much fruit. It could have become a splendid *vine.”

v9 Say to the nation called *Israel, “The *LORD your King says this. The *vine will not continue to grow. The first *eagle will pull up the *vine's roots. He will cut off its fruit. Then the *vine and all its new leaves will dry up and die. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull up the roots of the *vine. v10 Someone could plant the *vine again but it would not grow. In the place where the first *eagle planted it, the east wind will blow on it. And the *vine will dry up and die.” ’

Verses 1-6 The puzzle is in two parts. It is about two *eagles. The *eagle is a very great and powerful bird. The first part of the puzzle describes an *eagle that was strong. It had feathers of many colours. It flew to the country called Lebanon. It took from there the top branch of a *cedar tree. It took the branch to the country of merchants, which means Babylon. Then the *eagle took some of the seed and planted it in good ground. A *vine grew and spread towards the *eagle.

Verses 7-10 The second part of the puzzle shows a second *eagle. It was a strong *eagle. Its feathers were not so attractive as the first one. But it caused the *vine to turn toward it. This *eagle was Egypt.

The *vine could have produced good fruit. But now it could not do so. The first *eagle will pull up the roots of the *vine and cut off the fruit. The *vine will dry up and die.

(2) The meaning of the story – Ezekiel 17:11-21

v11 The *LORD spoke to me again. v12 ‘Now speak to the people who refuse to obey me. Ask them, “Do you know what these things mean?” Say to them, “The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem. He took the king and the important people from there. He brought them back with him to Babylon. v13 The king of Babylon chose a member of the family of the king of Judah. He made an agreement with him. The king forced this person to promise that he would be loyal to him. The king of Babylon also took all the leaders of Judah to Babylon. v14 He made the *kingdom of Judah weak so that it could not be strong again. The *kingdom of Judah could continue only if it were loyal to the king of Babylon. v15 But the king of Judah was not loyal to the king of Babylon. He sent a message to Egypt. He asked them to send horses and many soldiers. But the king of Judah will not succeed. The one who does such things will not escape. He did not obey the agreement and he will not escape.

v16 I am the *LORD your King, and I live. And this is what I say. The king of Judah will die in Babylon. He will die in the country of the king who made him the king of Judah. The king of Judah did not do as he had promised. He did not obey the agreement with the king of Babylon. v17 The king of Egypt has a large army and many people. But he will not be able help the king of Judah in the war. The army of Babylon will build slopes against the walls of the cities. Then they will attack and kill many people. v18 The king of Judah did not do as he had promised. He did not obey the agreement. He was not loyal to the king of Babylon. Therefore, he will not escape.

v19 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. I am the God who lives. What I say is true. I will punish the king of Judah because he hated my promise. And he did not obey my agreement. v20 It will be as if I am hunting him. I will spread my net over him, and I will catch him in my trap. Then I will bring him to Babylon. There I will punish him because he was not loyal to me. v21 All the people and soldiers who try to escape with him will die by the sword. Those who remain alive will scatter. They will go in all directions. Then you will know that I, the *LORD, have spoken.” ’

Verses 11-14 The first *eagle means Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. The top of a *cedar tree means Jehoiachin, the king of Judah. In the year 597 *BC, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon. King Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he went to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took most of the important people to Babylon. Some of these were the *exiles that were with Ezekiel.

Nebuchadnezzar chose Mattaniah, the youngest son of King Josiah, to rule over Judah. He gave Mattaniah the name of Zedekiah. He was an uncle of Jehoiachin. But Zedekiah had to agree to be loyal to Nebuchadnezzar and to serve him.

Zedekiah would have signed the form of the agreement. In it, he would promise in the name of the *Lord to obey it. In other words, Zedekiah agreed to be responsible to the *Lord if he did not obey.

The *kingdom of Judah was weak. It could be strong only if it remained loyal to the king of Babylon.

Verse 15 The second *eagle in the puzzle means the king of Egypt. His name was Hophra. He started to rule in Egypt in the year 588 *BC.

Zedekiah had promised to serve the king of Babylon. But he (Zedekiah) was not loyal to his promise. In the year 588 *BC, he asked the king of Egypt to send soldiers to him. He hoped to fight against Babylon. He wanted to be free from Nebuchadnezzar. But Zedekiah’s plan could not succeed. He would not escape.

Verses 16-21 God would use Nebuchadnezzar to punish Zedekiah and Judah. Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Zedekiah to be king in Judah but now he would kill him. Zedekiah deserved to die because he did not obey his promise.

Zedekiah had promised to be loyal to the king of Babylon. Instead, he *turned to the king of Egypt for help. But the king of Egypt would not help him. Zedekiah would be unable to escape from the king of Babylon. The army of Babylon would surround Jerusalem and attack it.

The agreement was with both Nebuchadnezzar and God. So, God would punish Zedekiah. The army of Judah would fail and many would die. Zedekiah would try to run away but he would not succeed. God would cause the *Babylonians to take Zedekiah to Babylon. He would die there.

Many of the people in Judah would die and many would go into *exile. All of this would happen. Then the *exiles will know that God has spoken.

(3) A future promise – Ezekiel 17:22-24

v22 ‘ “This is what the *LORD your King says. I myself will take a young branch from the top of a *cedar tree and I will plant it. I will cut off a small piece from the young branches at the top of the tree. I will plant this piece on a very high mountain. v23 I will plant it on a high mountain in *Israel. It will grow branches and it will yield fruit. It will become a splendid *cedar tree. Birds of every kind will build nests in it. They will live in the shelter of its branches. v24 All the trees of the field shall know that I am the *LORD. I bring down the high tree and I make the low tree tall. I dry up the healthy tree and I make the dry tree grow. I, the *LORD, have spoken, and I will do it.” ’

Verses 22-24 The *Lord now promises a future for the *Israelites. He will take a young branch from the top of the *cedar tree. He will plant that piece on a high mountain in *Israel. That high mountain is called Mount Zion. (See Isaiah 2:2.)

The *cedar tree means the family of David. Jehoiachin had come from that family. But God will bring another king from the *cedar tree. This is a promise that the *Messiah (Christ) will come as king in *Israel. He is king David’s greater son. (That is, the most important person born from David’s family. See Matthew 1:1).

When the *Messiah is king, the nation called *Israel will be strong. All the nations of the world will respect the king of *Israel. They will come to him and he will rule them all. (See Zechariah 14:16-21).

Chapter 18

·  In this chapter, the *Lord explains that each person is responsible for his own *sin.

Each person is responsible to God – Ezekiel 18:1-32

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘People say this about the country called *Israel: “The fathers eat the sour *grapes. But the children get the sour taste.” What the people mean by this is not right.

v3 I am the God who lives. And this is what the *LORD your King says. You will not say this thing in *Israel again. v4 Every person who lives belongs to me. The life of the father and the life of the child are mine. The person who *sins will die.

v5 Suppose that a person is good. And that person does what is fair and right.

v6 He does not eat at the mountain places of *worship. He does not go to the false gods of *Israel for help. He does not have sex with the wife of his neighbour. He does not have sex with a woman during the time of the month when she bleeds.

v7 He does not cheat or rob anyone. He gives back what he received as a promise for a loan. He does not steal from other people. He gives his bread to hungry people. And he gives clothes to people who have none.

v8 He does not lend money to get increase or profit. He is careful not to do wrong deeds. He always does what is right and fair to all people.

v9 He lives by my rules and he obeys my laws. The person who does these things is good. That person will live, says the *LORD your King.

v10 But suppose that this person has a son. And that son robs and murders. Or perhaps that son does any of these other things. v11 (But the father has done none of these things).

This son eats at the mountain places of *worship. He has sex with the wife of his neighbour.

v12 He cheats poor people, and he robs people. He does not give back what he received as a promise for a loan. He goes to the false gods for help. He does disgusting things that I hate.

v13 He lends money for increase and high profits. Will this son live? No, he will not live. He has done all these terrible things. Therefore, he will die and it is his own fault.

v14 Now, suppose that this son himself has a son. That son sees all the *sins of his father. He sees them but he does not do any of them.

v15 He does not eat at the mountain places of *worship. He does not go to the false gods of *Israel for help. He does not have sex with the wife of his neighbour.

v16 He never cheats or robs anyone. He does not keep what he received as a promise for a loan. And he gives his bread to hungry people. He gives clothes to those who have none.

v17 He is careful not to *sin. And he does not take too much increase or profit. He obeys my laws and he lives by my rules. He will not die for the *sins of his father. He will certainly live. v18 However, his father will die because of his own *sins. He cheated and robbed even his closest relatives. He did not do what was right among his people.

v19 But you ask, “Why do you not punish the son for the *sins of the father?” The son has done what is fair and right. He obeys all my rules. Therefore, he will live. v20 The person who *sins will die. I will not punish a child for the *sins of the parent. Neither will I punish the parent for the *sins of the child. I will reward good people for the good things that they do. And I will punish wicked people for the bad things that they do.

v21 But suppose that wicked people change their way of life. They *turn away from all the *sins that they have done. They now obey all my laws. They do what is fair and right. They shall live and not die. v22 I will not remember against them all the *sins that they have done. Because their deeds are right, they will live. v23 I do not want wicked people to die, says the *LORD your King. Rather I want them to stop their bad ways so that they will live.

v24 But suppose that good people stop doing good things. And they do what is wrong. They do the same disgusting things as the wicked people do. They will not live. I will not remember for them any of the good things that they have done. They have not been loyal to me. Because of their *sin, they will die.

v25 However, you say, “What the *Lord does is not fair.” *Israelites, listen to me! What I do is fair. What you do – that is not fair. v26 Perhaps good people stop doing good things and they do bad things. Then they will die because of it. They will die because of their *sins. v27 Perhaps wicked people stop their wicked behaviour. Then they do what is fair and right. They will save their lives. v28 They thought about it and they stopped doing those *sins. Because of this, they will live and not die. v29 Still the *Israelites say, “What the *Lord does is not fair.” *Israelites, listen to me! What I do is fair. What you do – that is not fair.

v30 Therefore, *Israelites, I will be your judge, says the *LORD your King. I will reward those who have done good things. I will punish those who have done bad things. So, *turn from your wicked ways. Then *sin will not *destroy you. v31 Give up all the *sins that you have done. Get a new heart. Change the way that you think. It seems as if you, *Israelites, want to die. v32 But I do not want anyone to die, says the *LORD your King. So, change your hearts and lives so that you may live.’

Verses 1-4 ‘The fathers eat sour *grapes. But the children get the sour taste.’ This is what the people said. By it, they meant that they were the children. And they suffered because of what their fathers did. The problems that they had were not their fault. They were not to blame. They were *exiles from the country of Judah because of what their fathers did.

The law says that the *sins of the fathers would affect the children. Those *sins would affect the grandchildren and their children as well (Exodus 20:5). The principle refers to those who hate God. It happens when the children copy their parents’ wicked behaviour. But many *exiles were referring to this rule for a different reason. These *exiles were using this rule to avoid blame. But each person is to blame for his own *sins. A child could choose not to copy his father’s behaviour.

God declares that each person belongs to him. The father is his and the child is his. And each one is responsible to God for his own *sins. A person dies because of his own *sins and not because of the *sins of another person.

Jeremiah was living in Jerusalem when Ezekiel received this message from the *Lord. The people in Jerusalem were also saying the same thing (Jeremiah 31:29).

Verses 5-9 Ezekiel now writes about a good father (verses 5-9). Then he writes about a bad son (verses 10-13) and a good grandson (verses 14-18). He may have been thinking about three kings of Judah. Hezekiah was a good man who loved the *Lord. His son Manasseh was a wicked man who did not trust in the *Lord. The grandson, Josiah, did what was right. And he served the *Lord.

Here is the man that God considers to be good.

·  This man does not pray to other gods. He does not serve them or eat at their *altars. He serves and *worships only the *Lord.

·  He does not have sex with any woman, apart from his own wife – Deuteronomy 5:18. He does not have sex with a woman during her monthly period (time of blood) – Leviticus 18:19.

·  He always does good things for other people. He does not cheat or rob them. He gives to those who need his help. He does not try to make unfair profits from people who are weak or poor.

·  He is always kind and fair. He will lend money to other people and he will not take any profit from them. This was a rule in *Israel (Exodus 22:25). But the law allowed *Israelites to take profit from foreigners.

·  This man lives by the laws of Moses and he trusts in God.

No person is perfect, but this man has a right attitude to God and to other people.

Verses 10-13 Here Ezekiel talks about the bad son of a good father. The son does all those things that his father did not do. He uses people who are weak and poor in order to make himself rich. He robs people and he is guilty of murder and of wrong sex. He eats at the *altars of the false gods. He turns to them and he turns away from the real God.

This son will not live. The good deeds of his father will not save him. He will surely die for his own *sins.

Verses 14-18 This does not mean that a bad man will have bad sons. King Manasseh was a bad person but Josiah his son was a good person.

The good son sees the bad things that his father does. But he does not imitate his father. He knows what is right. And he knows what is wrong. He chooses to do what is right.

The good son does not *worship the false gods. He does not have sex with other women. He cares about other people and he is kind to them.

His father will die for his own *sins. But the son will not die for the father’s *sins. This son will live.

Verses 19-20 God orders people to behave in the manner that pleases him. The person who does so will live. But the person who does not live in this way will die. Each person is responsible for his own life. The person who *sins will die for his *sins. He will not die for the *sins of his parent or his child.

Verses 21-23 Sometimes people do change the way that they live. A bad person may *turn from his *sins. He does what is right. He obeys God. Then God will not count those *sins against that person. Now he lives as God orders. So, that person will not die.

God does not want anyone to die. His desire is that they should *repent. He wants them to *turn to him for life (2 Peter 3:9).

People can choose to change. Their past *sins need not rule their future. They can have a new life with God.

Verse 24 A person could change his good behaviour. He could choose to do what is wrong. The good things that he has done will not save him. He has not been loyal to the demands of God. That person will die because of his *sins.

Verses 25-29 Many *Israelites thought that they were good people. Abraham was their *ancestor and therefore God would show his kindness to them. (See John 8:33-41.) They even supposed that their own behaviour did not matter. Who they were was the important thing. So, the *Lord was not fair when he punished them. That is what they thought.

But they were wrong. God will be the judge of what we have done. Each of us is responsible for what we do.

Those who do bad things will die because of it. That is fair. Those who do good things will live because of it. That is fair. But people can change. If the wicked man becomes a good man, he will save his life. If a good man becomes a wicked man, he will lose his life. God is fair in what he does.

Verses 30-32 God will be the judge of all people. But God does not want anyone to die. So, he appeals to these *exiles. They must *repent of their *sin or they will die. There must be a real change in their attitudes. They must have a complete change of heart.

Ezekiel does not teach that we can achieve *eternal life by our own efforts. No person can earn that life (Ephesians 2:8-9). God gives *eternal life to those who trust in Jesus. They *repent of their *sin and God forgives them.

Chapter 19

·  This chapter contains a sad song. It describes events in the lives of some of the last kings who ruled Judah.

A funeral song for the leaders of *Israel – Ezekiel 19:1-14

v1 ‘Sing a funeral song for the leaders of *Israel. v2 Say, “Your mother was like a great female lion. She lay down among the young lions. She had many baby lions. v3 She brought up one of her babies. He grew up to be a strong lion. He learned to tear the animals that he hunted. He killed and ate people. v4 The nations heard about him. They caught him in their trap. They tied him with chains and they brought him to the country called Egypt.

v5 The mother lion waited. But there was no hope for her young lion. So, she took another one of her baby lions. Then she made him a strong lion. v6 This lion went about among the lions. He was now a strong lion. He learned to tear the animals that he hunted. Also, he killed and ate people. v7 He tore down strong places and he destroyed cities. The sound of his roar frightened all those who lived in the country. v8 Then the nations came against him. They came from the regions round about. They spread their net for him, and they caught him in their trap. v9 They put him in a cage. And they tied him with chains. They brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison. So, people on the mountains in *Israel could never again hear his roar.

v10 Your mother was like a *vine that grew near water. The *vine had many branches. It had much fruit, because there was plenty of water. v11 The *vine had strong branches. Those branches became strong sticks that kings could use as signs of their authority. The *vine became tall among the thick branches. It was tall and it had many branches. All the people could see it. v12 But in my anger, I pulled up the *vine’s roots. And I threw it to the ground. The east wind dried up its fruit. The wind broke off and dried up that *vine’s strong branches. A fire burned its dry branches. v13 The *vine is now in the desert, in a dry land where there is no water. v14 Fire spread from the main branch of the *vine. It burned up all the fruit. No sticks remain that kings could use as signs of their authority.”

This is a funeral song. You shall be sad when you sing it.’

Verses 1-4 The mother lion means *Israel. *Israel had taken a place among the nations. The use of the word ‘lions’ shows that the song is about kings. (Lions are strong and powerful animals. So, people considered that they were like kings.) The young lions meant the kings from the family of David. The one here that grew to be a strong lion was Jehoahaz. He became king of Judah after his father Josiah died (see 2 Kings 23:31). Jehoahaz was king in Jerusalem for only three months. He was a bad king. He did not trust in the *Lord. In the year 609 *BC, the king of Egypt took him away. Jehoahaz died in Egypt.

Verses 5-9 After Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, his son, became king for 11 years. He was as bad as his father was. But in this song, the second young lion means Jehoiakim’s son, who was called Jehoiachin. He was just 18 years old when he began to rule Judah. He was no better then his father. So, after three months the king of Babylon took him to Babylon. This was in the year 597 *BC.

Jehoiachin was in prison for 37 years. He came out of prison when he was 55 years old. He lived in Babylon for the rest of his life.

Verses 10-14 The *vine means the nation called *Israel. God had planted the *vine by the waters. In other words, God had placed *Israel in a good country, that is, the country called Canaan. Because of the *vine’s good situation, it had grown large and it had much fruit. And so *Israel had been a successful country. Many kings had ruled there. But the *Israelites had *turned away from God. So, God was angry. His action was the result of his anger. In the song, he destroys the *vine. This means that he would punish Judah. The east wind means the army of Babylon. What remained of Judah was like a dried-up *vine. In other words, it was like a *vine in a dry land where there was no water. Its situation was hopeless.

There would be no more kings. The last king, Zedekiah, did not belong to the direct family of David. King Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon in 586 *BC.

*Prophecies of *disaster for Judah – Ezekiel 20:1-24:27

Chapter 20

·  God is patient. He gives people every opportunity to *turn to him. This chapter describes *Israel’s history during several centuries. God had made wonderful promises to the *Israelites. But, even since *Israel’s origin, so many *Israelites had not been loyal to God. So, during Ezekiel’s life, God would punish the *Israelites. However, God still loved *Israel. And, in the future, he would perform all his promises to *Israel.

*Israel refuses to obey God – Ezekiel 20:1-44

(1) Failure in Egypt – Ezekiel 20:1-9

v1 It was the 7th year during our *exile. On the 10th day of the 5th month, some of the leaders of *Israel came to inquire of the *LORD. They sat down in front of me.

v2 Then the *LORD spoke to me. v3 ‘*Son of man, speak to the leaders of *Israel. Say to them, “This is what the *LORD your King says. I am the God who lives. You have come to inquire of me. But I will not let you ask me anything. That is what the *LORD your King says.”

v4 You must tell them how wrong they are. Tell them how wrong they are, *son of man. Let them know the terrible things that their *ancestors did. v5 Say to them, “This is what the *LORD your King says. When I chose *Israel, I made a promise to the *Israelites. I raised my hand to the family of Jacob. I introduced myself to them in Egypt.” And I said, “I am the *LORD your God.” v6 At that time, I promised them that I would bring them out of Egypt. I would bring them into the country that I had chosen for them. It is a country that has plentiful supplies of milk and honey. It is the most beautiful of all countries. v7 I spoke to them. “Each of you must throw away the awful gods to which you have looked. Do not *worship the false gods of Egypt. Those gods will make you *unclean with *sin. I am the *LORD your God.”

v8 But they *turned against me and they refused to listen to me. They did not throw away the awful gods to which they looked. They did not give up the false gods of Egypt. I decided to *pour out my anger on them while they were still in Egypt. v9 However, I did what was right for my own name (honour). I had promised to bring *Israel out of Egypt. The nations round about knew that I had promised this. If I did not do it, the nations would not respect my name.

Verse 1 The 5th month in the calendar of *Israel is July to August in our calendar. It was then July to August in the year 591 *BC. It was 11 months after chapter 8:1.

In the summer of 591 *BC the army of Egypt had taken control of the country called Sudan. The *exiles heard about this. They expected that the *Egyptians would attack the country called *Israel. They hoped that the *Egyptians would free the country from Nebuchadnezzar. With this hope in mind, Zedekiah requested help from Egypt. This was between the years 591 and 589 *BC. The king of Egypt became ill and so the army of Egypt did not come.

The leaders of the *exiles came to Ezekiel. They came to inquire of the *Lord. They probably wanted to ask if Egypt would come to rescue Judah. They wanted to know if they could soon return to their own country. Chapters 20 to 23 contain the *Lord’s answer to this question.

Verses 2-4 The *Lord told Ezekiel to speak to these leaders. Ezekiel must tell them why God was opposing them. God refused to answer the questions of the leaders of *Israel. God would not answer them because of their *sins. Their *exile was the result of the history of *sin in *Israel.

Verse 5-7 God ‘raised his hand’ to the *Israelites. To raise one’s hands was the way that people made a contract. God made a contract with them.

The nation called *Israel began in Egypt when God chose it. He showed the people who he was. And he promised to be their God. He made an agreement with them. He promised to bring them out of Egypt.

He also promised to bring them into the country that he would give to them. This country would be the good and rich country called Canaan. It was the best country. God chose it especially for them.

The people also had duties because of this contract. They had to throw away their false gods. They had to stop their *worship of the gods of Egypt. The *Lord God must be their only God.

Verse 8-9 The people did not listen to God. They did not do as he had said. They kept their false gods. So, while they were still in Egypt, God was angry with them. He punished them because they would not obey him. They were in Egypt for 430 years.

However, God had said that he would bring them out. So, he did bring them out of Egypt. The nations knew that God had promised it. And God always does what he has promised to do. For the honour of his name among the nations, God had to bring the people out of Egypt.

When God did this, he showed his power over all the gods of Egypt. But, his own people did not obey him.

(2) Failure in the desert – Ezekiel 20:10-26

v10 So, I led the *Israelites out of the country called Egypt. And I brought them into the desert. v11 I gave my rules to them and I told them about my laws. The people will live if they obey these rules and laws. v12 Also, I gave them my *Sabbaths as a sign of our agreement. By this, they would know that I am the *LORD. I have made them my own people.

v13 But in the desert, the *Israelites did not obey me. They did not live as I had ordered them. They refused to obey my laws. People would live if they obeyed my commands. But they did what they should not do on the *Sabbaths. Then I decided to *pour out my anger against them and to *destroy them in the desert. v14 But the nations had seen that I brought the *Israelites out of Egypt. So, I did not *destroy the *Israelites in the desert. If I had done it, the nations would speak evil things about me. v15 And in the desert, I raised my hand as I issued my judgement. I told the *Israelites that I would not bring them into their own country. That was the country that I gave to them. It is the most beautiful country, a country that has plentiful supplies of milk and honey. v16 This was because they refused my laws. And they did not obey my rules. They did what they should not do on my *Sabbaths. And in their hearts, they *worshipped false gods. v17 But I pitied them. I did not *destroy them. And I did not end the *Israelite nation while they were still in the desert. v18 I spoke to their children in the desert. “Do not live as your parents live. Do not obey their rules. Do not *worship their false gods, which will make you *unclean with *sin. v19 I am the *LORD your God. Live by my laws. Obey my rules and do them. v20 Make the *Sabbath a holy day. It will be a sign of the agreement that we made. And you will know that I am the *LORD your God.”

v21 But the children *turned away from me. They did not live by my rules. They did not obey my laws. If they obeyed my rules, they would live. They did not respect my rules for the *Sabbaths. So, I decided to *pour out my anger against them in the desert. v22 But I held back my anger. I acted for the honour of my name among the nations. They had seen me bring the *Israelites out of Egypt. v23 And in the desert, I raised my hand as I issued my judgement. I declared to the *Israelites what I would do. I would scatter them among the nations. And I would spread them among the countries. v24 I will do this because they have not obeyed my laws. They refused to live by my rules. On the *Sabbaths, they do what they should not do. They also *worship the false gods that their fathers served. v25 So I told them to obey laws that are not good. And I told them to obey commands that could not give life to them. v26 I let them become *unclean with *sin by means of their gifts to the false gods. They caused all their first-born children to go through the fire. I allowed this so that I might fill them with terror. Then they would know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 10-12 God led the *Israelites out of Egypt. By Moses, he gave them rules by which they would live. In the desert, the people agreed to obey all these rules. If they did obey all these laws then they would live. But the people neglected to do what they ought to have done.

The day for the *Jews lasted from one evening until the next evening. In their contract with God, they had to keep one day as different from the other days of the week (Exodus 20:8-11). This day is the *Sabbath, which the *Jews *keep from Friday to Saturday. It is a day for rest and *worship, when people may not work. This is a sign that they are God’s people. God had made them his own people.

Verses 13-17 To obey God’s laws would show trust in God. Failure to obey the law of God showed that they did not trust him. One’s good deeds cannot earn life but life comes by trust in the *Lord. God was so kind to give his laws to them. By his goodness, he gave to them the promise of life. But, they did not believe. They did not trust God. They refused to obey the law of God. They did not *keep the *Sabbath days as the *Lord ordered.

It would have been right for the *Lord to *destroy *Israel (to end the *Israelite nation) in the desert. That was what they deserved. But the *Lord would not *destroy them. He had promised to bring them to the country called Canaan. He would do everything that he promised to do.

The nations knew about God’s promise to *Israel. They would accuse God if he did not perform it.

God had to punish the people for their evil deeds. But he pitied them. He did not destroy the new nation called *Israel. Only the adults who left Egypt would die in the desert. They would not go into the country that God had promised to *Israel. The *Israelites were in the desert 40 years until those adults died. Then their children did go into that country.

Verses 18-20 The promise of the new country was for those under the age of 20 years. However, God warned them. They must not to do as their parents had done. They must not *worship false gods. The *Lord was their God and they must serve only him. They must obey the contract that God gave to them by Moses. They must obey the rules for the *Sabbath days. The weekly *Sabbath was a sign of the contract. The *Sabbath would remind them that the *Lord was their God.

Verses 21-22 Like their parents, the children also *turned away from the *Lord. They refused to live by the laws of God. They did not keep the *Sabbath day special. God was angry with them. He could have *destroyed them in the desert. That would have been right and fair. But God did not *destroy them there.

The nations knew that God had brought *Israel out of Egypt. They knew that God was leading his people in the desert. If God *destroyed *Israel, it would damage his name among the nations. So, for the honour of his name, he did not do it.

Verses 23-26 God could not just forget their evil deeds. He had to punish their *sins. That punishment would be in the future. God said that he would scatter them among the nations. This is what was happening in the days of Ezekiel. Ezekiel lived with the *exiles in Babylon. They went into *exile in the year 597 *BC. The armies of Babylon would soon destroy Jerusalem. Then those that remained alive would also go into *exile. This happened in the year 587 *BC.

The people would not obey God. They would not *keep the *Sabbath rules. They continued to serve false gods. So, God allowed them to behave in this evil manner. But they could not avoid the punishment for their *sin.

The *Israelites served the gods of the nations. They gave gifts to these gods. Some of them even killed their own children to please these false gods. They did this in the *worship of the god called Molech.

(3) Failure in the country called *Israel – Ezekiel 20:27-29

v27 ‘Therefore, *son of man, speak to the *Israelites. Tell them: “This is what the *LORD your King says. Your *ancestors spoke against me and they were not loyal to me. They also did awful acts against me. v28 I brought them into the country that I had promised to give them. There they saw every high hill and every tree with leaves. In these places, they offered their gifts to the false gods. They offered gifts there that made me angry. They burned *incense and they poured out drinks to the gods. v29 Then I asked them this question. What is the high place to which you go?” ’ And even now, its name is Bamah.

Verses 27-29 The *Lord had been so kind to the *Israelites. He saved them from Egypt. He led them through the desert. He brought them into the country that he had promised to them. But, even after all this, the people were not loyal to God. They even spoke against the *Lord. They did not obey his law. They did those things that God hates.

They came into the country called Canaan. Soon they did what the original inhabitants of Canaan did. The *Israelites offered gifts to the gods of those people. Under every tree and on the high places, they served the false gods. They *worshipped the gods with *incense. *Incense has a sweet smell when it burns. They poured out gifts of drink to the gods. All of these things made God angry.

Bamah is a *Hebrew word, which means ‘high place.’ It was probably the name of one of the most important high places.

(4) Failure of Judah in the time of Ezekiel – Ezekiel 20:30-44

v30 ‘For this reason, speak to the *Israelites. “This is what the *LORD your King says. You will be as *unclean with *sin as your *ancestors were. You will be like a *prostitute with their false gods, which I hate. v31 You offer your children as gifts and you cause them to go through fire. Even now, you are *unclean with *sin because of your false gods. So, *Israelites, I will not let you inquire of me. I am the God who lives. I will not answer any questions from you. This is what the *LORD your King says.

v32 What is in your mind shall never happen. You say, “We want to be like the other nations. We want to be like the people who live across the world. Like them, we want to *worship false gods that we have made of wood and stone.” v33 I am the God who lives. This is what the *LORD your King says. I will use my great power and strength against you. I will deal with you in my anger. And I will rule over you. v34 I will bring you out from the nations. I will gather you from the nations where I scattered you. With my great power, strength and anger, I will achieve this. v35 I will bring you into the desert of the nations. There I will meet with you, and there, I will be your judge. v36 I was the judge of your *ancestors in the desert of Egypt. Even so, I will be your judge, says the *LORD your King. v37 I will count you as one counts sheep. I will control you by the agreement that I have with you. v38 I will remove from you those who refuse to obey me. And I will remove from you those who *turn against me. I will bring them out of the nations where they now live. But they will never enter the country called *Israel. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.

v39 This is what the *LORD your King says to the *Israelites. Go now and serve your false gods. But in the future, you will listen to me. Then you will respect my holy name. Then you will not give gifts in *worship to your false gods. v40 You will come to my holy mountain, the high mountain of *Israel. There, in the country, all the *Israelites will serve me. This is what the *LORD your King says. I will accept you there. There I will expect your gifts and the first fruits of your harvest. You will offer to me your holy things. v41 I will bring you out from the foreign nations. I will gather you from the nations where I scattered you. By you, I will show the nations how holy I am. And I will accept you as *incense that has a sweet smell. v42 I will bring you into the country called *Israel. I raised my hand when I promised to give that country to your *ancestors. Then you will know that I am the *LORD. v43 And you shall remember how you lived. You will remember all the evil things that you did. You will be ashamed and you will hate all your evil deeds. v44 I will not deal with you as you deserve. You have lived bad lives and you have done evil deeds. I will be kind to you for the honour of my own name. Then you, *Israelites, will know that I am the *LORD. That is what the *LORD your King says.’

Verses 30-31 God has shown the *exiles of Judah the failures of the past. Now he asks them a question. Are they any better than their *ancestors were? No, the *Israelites were just as bad as their *ancestors were. They were not loyal to God. They went after other gods as *prostitutes go with men.

The people had *turned away from God. So, they could not expect God to listen to them. God would not answer their questions.

God had delayed the punishment of the nation for so long. However, it had to happen and now was the time. The people had not *repented of their *sins. They had not *turned back to the *Lord.

Verses 32-38 God loves *Israel. Therefore, he would not let them be like the other nations. He would not let them be slaves to false gods. They are his people. He has an agreement with them. He is angry with them when they *turn away from him. By his great power, he would scatter them across the nations. So, in a few years, the inhabitants of Jerusalem would go into *exile. However, the *Lord would still rule them.

After the *exile in Babylon, the *Lord would bring the people from Judah back to their own country. But at a future time, God would scatter them again. He would be their judge ‘in the desert of the nations’. Since the first century AD (after Christ), the *Jews have been in other countries. They have suffered much. God has been their judge as he had been in the desert of Egypt. But now God is bringing them back to their own country. The time will come when they will *turn again to the *Lord. He will be like a *shepherd to them. A *shepherd counts his sheep to make sure that none are missing. The *Lord will make again his agreement with the *Israelites. He will rule them by that agreement. But he will refuse those who *turn away from him. They will not be his. They will not live in the country.

Verses 39-44 For many years, the people would not listen to (obey) God. So, God let them live in the manner that they chose. They could serve the false gods. But in the future, they will see how wrong they were. Then they will hear what the *Lord will say to them.

The *Lord will bring all the *Israelites back to the country called *Israel. Then they will trust in the *Lord their God. At that future time, they will respect God. They will never again serve the gods of the nations. They will serve the *Lord their God. In this, the nations will see that God is holy.

In that day, they will come to the place that God has chosen. There they will *worship him. Then God will accept them. He will accept the gifts and the *sacrifices that they bring to him. His people will be as sweet *incense to him.

The people will remember how bad they had been. They will be ashamed of their past. But they will know how much God has loved them. They will know that the *Lord alone is God.

(5) Fire destroys the country – Ezekiel 20:45-49

v45 The *Lord spoke to me again. v46 ‘*Son of man, look toward the south. *Prophesy against the south and against the forest in the Negeb. v47 Say to the forest in the Negeb, “Hear what the *LORD says to you. The *LORD your King says: I am ready to start a fire in you. That fire will destroy all your green trees and all your dry trees. Nobody can put out the flames of the fire. The fire will burn the whole country from the south to the north. v48 Then everyone will see that I, the *LORD, have started the fire. And nobody can put it out.’’ ’

v49 Then I said, ‘Ah, *LORD our King. The people say about me, “He is just telling stories.” ’

Verses 45-49 In the *Hebrew Bible, verse 45 is the beginning of the next chapter.

The events here were not in the distant future. They would happen very soon. The south and the forest in the Negeb mean the *kingdom called Judah. In those days, the country had many trees, even in the Negeb.

The *Lord would cause a *disaster in Judah. He would destroy the country as completely as a forest fire burns all the trees. There would be no way to stop what the *Lord would start. He would send Nebuchadnezzar and his army against the country called Judah. The attack would be like a fire that nobody could put out. All of this happened in the year 586 *BC.

The *exiles did not understand what Ezekiel said. They refused to believe what he told them. They said that he was just telling stories.

Chapter 21

·  This chapter describes how the king of Babylon and his army would attack Judah and Ammon. It refers often to the ‘sword of the *Lord.’ That sword means the *Babylonian army. That army would carry out the *Lord’s punishment against Judah and Ammon.

The sword of the *Lord – Ezekiel 21:1-17

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, look toward Jerusalem. Speak against the holy place. *Prophesy against the country called *Israel. v3 Say to the country of *Israel, “The *LORD says this. I am against you. I will pull my sword out of its holder. And I will kill both good people and wicked people. v4 I shall certainly kill both good people and wicked people. Therefore, my sword will come out from its holder. It will attack all the people from the south to the north. v5 Then all people will know that I, the *LORD, have pulled my sword out of its holder. My sword will not go back in again.”

v6 *Son of man, cry as with despair and no hope. Weep and be sad in front of the people. v7 They will ask, “Why do you weep?” You will answer them, “I have heard what will happen. That is why I weep. Fear will overcome every heart and all hands will become weak. All people will be afraid and all their knees will seem as weak as water. Look, it is coming. It will happen, says the *LORD your King.” ’

v8 The *LORD spoke to me again. v9 ‘*Son of man, *prophesy. Say, “The *LORD says this. A sword, a sword! I have made it sharp and I have polished it. v10 The sharp sword is to kill people. The sword that I have polished is to flash like lightning. We cannot be happy about this.

My son (Judah) you refuse the rule of God.”

v11 I have polished the sword so that a hand can grasp it. I have made the sword sharp and I have polished it. It is ready for the one who kills. I will give the sword into his hand. v12 Cry out and weep, *son of man. The sword comes against my people and all the rulers of *Israel. The sword will kill the rulers and my people. Therefore, show how sad you are.

v13 This test will happen. My people have refused my rule. So, it will happen, says the *LORD your King.

v14 So, *son of man, *prophesy and clap your hands. Let the sword strike two or three times. The sword is to kill people. The sword is to kill many people. This sword surrounds the people to kill them. v15 It makes my people lose courage and fall down. The sword will be at all the gates in order to kill many people. Like lightning, the sword will flash. The one who holds it is ready to kill. v16 “Sharp sword, cut on the right side, then cut on the left side! Cut wherever you turn!” v17 Also, I will clap my hands. And then I will rest after my anger. I, the *LORD, have spoken.’

Verses 1-5 This chapter explains the meaning of the story of the forest fire (Ezekiel 20:45-49). The *Lord told Ezekiel to look in the direction of Jerusalem. The ‘south’ means Jerusalem, the *temple and the country of *Israel. The country that Ezekiel calls *Israel was in fact the southern *kingdom, usually called Judah. But instead of a fire, this chapter refers to a sword.

The *Lord was against Jerusalem, the holy place and the country of Judah. Like a soldier, he would take his sword from its holder. That sword means the army of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Many people would die in the battles. The army would kill both good and bad people. They would attack all the people from the south to the north.

This will happen. Then all people will know that the *Lord brought about these events.

Verses 6-7 God told Ezekiel to show the *exiles the emotions of the people in Jerusalem. People will cry out in despair because there will be no escape. They will have no hope of rescue. Therefore, Ezekiel cried and he was sad. This was not just an act. Ezekiel could see what would soon happen. These events really did upset him. So, he was actually sad. His own people would suffer and die. Many people whom he had known would die in Jerusalem.

Ezekiel would tell the *exiles why he wept. God had told him what would happen. He felt the pain that his people would suffer. They would be so afraid. Fear would make them weak. Their strength would disappear and there would be no hope for them. They would not be able to fight or to defeat the enemy.

God said that it would happen. And it did happen.

Verses 8-10 The *Lord tells Ezekiel to sing a song. This section (verses 9-17) is in the form of a poem. It speaks about the sword of the *Lord. The sword is ready for use and it will kill people. It is clean and it is sharp. It will move like lightning to do what the *Lord orders.

‘My son (Judah) you refuse the rule of God.’ The translation of this line is not certain. The promise of God was that there would be a ruler from the *tribe called Judah (Genesis 49:9-10). Therefore, the people thought that they were safe. God would keep Jerusalem safe from all enemies. But they were wrong. The promise would be for the future. God will send his king to rule them. He will be the *Messiah.

Verses 11-13 The person who uses the sword would be the king of Babylon. He would come very soon and he would attack Judah and Jerusalem. The *Lord would send him to destroy Judah. The king of Babylon and his army would kill the rulers in Jerusalem. And they would kill many of the people there.

Such a message would have made Ezekiel very sad. So, God told him to cry aloud to show it. The nation called Judah had failed the test. They had *turned away from their God. So, God would punish them. The *Lord said it. It would happen.

Verses 14-17 The *Lord is angry with his own people. Ezekiel shows that anger as he strikes his hands together. God must punish them because of the evil things that they do.

The poetry here shows that the sword is moving quickly. It is one sword but it seems like many swords. It is all round the people. It cuts them from all sides. It is there to kill them. Wherever it turns, the people die. It kills at the gates so that none can escape. It moves like lightning. The sharp sword completes the task.

The *Lord will clap his hands. He will satisfy his anger and then he will rest.

The king of Babylon comes – Ezekiel 21:18-27

v18 The *LORD spoke to me again. v19 ‘*Son of man, mark two roads that the king of Babylon and his sword can follow. Both of these roads will start from the same country. Where the two roads separate, make a sign. Point the way to the city. v20 Make a sign to show the road for the sword to enter Rabbah in the country of the *Ammonites. Make another sign to show the way to Judah and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city with strong walls for protection. v21 The king of Babylon will stop where the two roads part. He will use magic to decide which way to go. He shakes arrows and he inquires of his false gods. He looks at the inner parts of an animal that he has killed. v22 At his right hand will be the choice for Jerusalem. He will cut down trees and he will use them to break down the gates. He will shout the battle cry and he will give the order to kill. The army will build roads with earth that lead up to the top of the walls. So, they will attack the city. v23 The people in Jerusalem have made agreements with other nations to help them. So, they think that this *prophecy is wrong. But this is proof of their *sin. The king of Babylon will defeat them.

v24 So, this is what the *LORD your King says. “Your *sins are plain for all to see. You have not obeyed the *Lord. Everyone can see your *sins because of the things that you do. Because of this, the enemy will seize you and defeat you.

v25 And you, the wicked prince of *Israel, your day has come. The time for your punishment has come at last. v26 This is what the *LORD your King says to you. Take off the head cover of the priest. Remove the crown from your head. Life will not be the same as it has been. Those who had no power will now be important. Those who were important will have no power.”

v27 *Ruined, *ruined, *ruined. I will ruin the city. Nobody will build it again until the right man comes as king. I will give the city to him.’

Verses 18-21 Ezekiel drew a map. On it, he showed a road from Babylon. On the map, Ezekiel divided the road into two. The road from Babylon came to a town called Riblah. From there, one road led south-east to Rabbath. This was the chief city in Ammon. The other road led south-west to Jerusalem, the chief city in Judah.

The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, would come to the place where the road divides. Judah and Ammon had together *turned against the rule of Babylon. This happened in the years 593 to 589 *BC. That is why Nebuchadnezzar would come with his army. Then he had to decide which city to attack first.

To help him decide, Nebuchadnezzar used three kinds of magic. He shook arrows. Each arrow would have the name of one of these cities on it. Someone would shake the holder that contained the arrows. The first arrow to fall out of the holder would give the answer. Next, he asked his false gods. The priests of the gods had to give him an answer. The third method was to look at the inner parts of a dead animal. The colour and the pattern on these parts gave the answer.

God does not approve of any of these means. But he made them all agree with his decision. God would bring Nebuchadnezzar to fight against Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar would act as the sword of God.

Verses 22-24 The choice of God was Jerusalem. So, King Nebuchadnezzar would attack Jerusalem.

The people in Jerusalem did not believe that this would happen. They had an agreement with God. So, they thought that he would not do this to them. But that agreement ordered them to obey God. If they did not obey God, then this would be the result. And they were not obeying God. Instead, they were actually opposing God.

They also had an agreement with the king of Babylon. But they had not been loyal to him. Then they asked other nations to help them. But these nations did not do so.

The people had not believed the word of their God. Their *sins were so great. Everyone could see how bad Judah was. Now God would punish them by means of Nebuchadnezzar. He would defeat them and many of them would die.

Verses 25-27 The wicked prince of *Israel was Zedekiah. The enemy would end his rule in the year 586 *BC. ‘Remove the head cover of the priest and the crown of the prince.’ The chief priest would not serve God or the people. There would not be a king in Judah. Until the *Messiah comes, no man will have the right to wear the head cover or the crown. The *Messiah will be the priest and king of *Israel.

The anger of the *Lord against Ammon – Ezekiel 21:28-32

v28 ‘And you, *son of man, *prophesy. Say: “This is what the *LORD your King says about the *Ammonites and their insults. A sword, a sword has come out of its holder. The sword that I have polished comes to kill and to destroy. The sword will flash like lightning. v29 *Prophets see false *visions for you. And they *prophesy lies to you. The sword will come upon the necks of these wicked people. The time for their punishment has come at last. v30 Put the sword back in its holder. Where I created you, in the country of your origin, I shall be your judge. v31 I will *pour out my anger against you. I shall blow on you with my anger, which is like fire. I will hand you over to cruel people who are able to *destroy you. v32 You will be like fuel for the fire. You will die in your country. Nobody will remember you because I, the *LORD, have spoken.’’ ’

Verses 28-32 God had sent Nebuchadnezzar to attack Jerusalem first. The *Ammonites thought that Nebuchadnezzar had decided not to attack them. So, they helped in the defeat of Judah. They laughed at the people from Judah. And the *Ammonites insulted the people from Judah. The *Ammonites were happy at the defeat of Jerusalem. Their own *prophets had false *visions of hope for them. But in time, God would destroy Ammon. And their nation would end completely.

Chapter 22

·  God told Ezekiel to declare judgement against Jerusalem. The words of this *prophecy are like the judge’s words in a court. Ezekiel had to accuse Jerusalem and Judah because of the *sins of the inhabitants. So, he speaks to Jerusalem as if the city itself was guilty for those *sins.

The wicked acts of the *Israelites – Ezekiel 22:1-16

v1 The *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘You, *son of man, you will be the judge. You will be the judge of this city where there are so many murders. So, tell Jerusalem that it is guilty for all its wicked acts. v3 Declare: “The *LORD your King says this to the city. You (Jerusalem) kill those who live in you. So, your time of punishment has come. You made false gods and you ruined yourself. v4 You are guilty of murder. And you are guilty because of your false gods that you have made. So, your time of punishment will come soon. That is why I have caused the nations to insult you. And all countries laugh at you. v5 Nations that are near you laugh at you. And nations that are far away laugh at you. You are a wicked city, full of confusion.

v6 Look at the princes of *Israel who are in you (Jerusalem). Each of them uses his power in order to kill people. v7 In you, people hate their fathers and mothers. In you, people deal badly with strangers. In you, people do wicked things against the widows and against the children who have no parents. v8 You hate my holy things and you do not obey my rules for the *Sabbaths. v9 In you, people tell lies to cause the death of other people. In you, people eat food that they have offered to false gods at the mountain places. In you, people do disgusting sex acts. v10 In you, men have sex with the wives of their fathers. In you, men have sex with women during the time of the month when they bleed. v11 In you, one man does a wicked act with the wife of his neighbour. Another man has sex with his daughter in law (that is, his son’s wife). And another man forces his half sister (his father’s daughter) to have sex with him. v12 In you, men kill other people for money. You charge too much money when you take profit from loans. You take money from your neighbours by unfair means. And you have forgotten me, declares the *LORD your King.

v13 You steal money and you murder people in the middle of your city. Therefore, because of my anger, I will strike my hands together. v14 I will punish you. In that day, you will not have courage and you will not be strong enough. I, the *LORD, have spoken, and I will do it. v15 I will scatter you among the nations and I will send you to live in foreign countries. I will force you to stop your evil actions. v16 But as for you, the nations will cause you to be ashamed. Then you will know that I am the *LORD.” ’ 

Verses 1-5 Twice, the *Lord tells Ezekiel to declare the judgement against Jerusalem. The matter is now urgent. Ezekiel must tell the people what their crimes are. This is not a matter of history. The people in the city are now doing these evil things. They have killed so many people in the city of Jerusalem. They have *turned from the real God to serve false gods. They are guilty of every evil deed. They are wicked and cruel. That is why they are suffering now. Soon the final punishment from God will come to them. God will destroy Jerusalem.

The nations round about could see the *sin of Jerusalem. They could see that it was guilty of so many evil things. And they laughed at the city.

Verse 6 The chief cause of the evil behaviour in Jerusalem was its leaders. They should have led the people to do the right things. They should have taught them the law of God. But, the leaders were even more guilty than the rest of the people.

Manasseh had been a bad king. He ruled for 55 years (2 Kings chapter 21). Then there was a good king. Josiah ruled for 31 years (2 Kings chapters 22 to 23). But his efforts to bring the people back to God did not last. After him, there were more bad kings. And the nation was as bad as it was before.

All the leaders were using their power for their own desires. They even caused the deaths of many people in Jerusalem.

Verse 7 Ezekiel makes a list of the wrong things that the people did in Jerusalem. Each of these actions was against the laws that God gave to Moses.

The law says that we should respect our parents (Exodus 20:12). The people hated their fathers and mothers. We ought to give a welcome to strangers and to help them (Leviticus 19:34). The people robbed and attacked the strangers. We have a duty to take care of children who have no fathers. We should help widows (Exodus 22:22). But the people in Jerusalem did not care. They refused to assist those people who needed help. They did all kinds of wicked things to those people who were weaker. They did not respect other people.

Verse 8 The leaders did not respect God. They did evil things in the *temple. They even put false gods there. The *Lord had told them to make the *Sabbaths special (Exodus 20:8-11). He gave them rules for these special days. But the leaders and the people would not obey God’s rules. They did not respect the *Lord their God.

Verses 9-12 The law says that we should not be false witnesses (Exodus 20:16). We should speak the truth. But in Jerusalem, the inhabitants told terrible lies. What they said was false. As a result, they killed innocent people.

We should *worship only the one real God (Exodus 20:3-4). But the people served false gods in every high place.

The list continues with all kinds of sex *sins. All of these *sins are against the laws of God.

The reason for many of their crimes was the people’s desire for money. They murdered and they cheated.

The main cause of all their *sins was that they had forgotten the *Lord God. They did not remember that they were responsible to him.

Verses 13-16 God struck his hands together, because of his anger. In other words, we could say that he shook his fist at them. This means that God would punish them. Jerusalem would not stand through the days of punishment. God had told the people that he would destroy Jerusalem. They could not stand against God. They did not have enough courage. And, of course, they were not strong enough.

Some people would escape death in Jerusalem. But God would scatter them across the nations. From that time, they would stop serving false gods. They would be ashamed of what they had done. They will then know that the *Lord is God.

The anger of the *Lord against *Israel – Ezekiel 22:17-31

v17 The *LORD spoke to me again. v18 ‘*Son of man, the *Israelites have become as rubbish to me. They are like the waste metals (copper, tin, iron, and lead) in the fire. They are like the waste metals when a workman makes silver pure. v19 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. “Because you have become rubbish, I will bring you all into Jerusalem. v20 People put metals (silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin) in the fire to melt them. So, I will gather you and put you in the city. And my anger will have the same effect on you as the fire has on the metals. The fire melts those metals. And it will be as if I am melting you. v21 I will gather you and I will blow on you with the fire of my anger. The fire will melt you, inside the city. v22 As one melts silver in a fire, I will melt you inside the city. Then you will know that I, the *LORD, have *poured out my anger on you.’’ ’

v23 The *LORD spoke to me again. v24 ‘*Son of man, speak to the country called *Israel. “You are a dry country, without any rain or showers, when God is angry.” v25 The rulers of *Israel make evil plans. They are like lions that roar. Lions tear and kill other animals. So, the rulers have killed people and they have taken their precious things. Many women have become widows because of what the rulers have done. v26 The priests in Jerusalem do not obey my law. They refuse to respect my holy things. They make no difference between holy things and things that are not holy. They teach that *clean and *unclean things are alike. To them, my *Sabbaths are like any other day. So, my people no longer give honour to me. v27 The leaders of Jerusalem have killed people for profit. They are like *wolves that tear dead animals in pieces. v28 The *prophets hide these deeds by false *visions and they tell lies in my name. They act as if they are using paint to cover cracks in a wall. They say, “The *LORD your King says this.” But I, the *LORD have not spoken to them. v29 The people in the country cheat and they steal. They are cruel to poor people and to those people who need help. They cheat foreigners and they do not deal fairly with them.’’

v30 I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall. I looked for a man who would stand for me in the gap. He would be there on behalf of the country so that I would not destroy it. But I could not find such a man. v31 Therefore, I have *poured out my anger upon the people. I killed them with my anger that was like fire. I did this because of all the evil things that they have done. This is what I, the *LORD, declare to you.’

Verses 17-22 The fire melts metals. The things that are not pure metal rise to the top. The worker will throw this rubbish away. The people in Judah are like this rubbish. The *Lord will throw them away.

When the workman makes silver pure, the heat of the fire melts the metals. At the right heat, other metals will remain in the fire as one removes the silver. To the man who makes things of silver, such waste metals are of no use. To the *Lord, the people in Judah are like these waste metals.

The *Lord uses this process to show how he will kill the people in Jerusalem. The fire (which means his anger) will burn against them. He will send the army of Babylon to carry out the punishment. They will destroy Jerusalem and they will kill its inhabitants. They will burn the city with an actual fire.

The fire that destroys is a picture in words. It shows what actually happened in the years 588 to 586 *BC. Ezekiel wrote this about three years before it happened. And then the people will know that this is a punishment from the *Lord.

Verses 23-24 God had promised rain to the *Israelites if they obeyed him. He promised to stop the rain if they did not obey him (Deuteronomy 11:14-17). They did not obey him and he was angry with them. Therefore, there was no rain on the land.

Verses 25-29 The leaders had worked together for their own benefit. They did not care about the people. The leaders simply wanted to become rich. They did not serve God or obey him. The result of their evil acts was that many people died.

The priests should have taught the people to know God. They should have been the agents of God for the people. They should have obeyed the law of God and they should have taught the people as well. But the priests did not obey the law and they did not teach the people. They did not respect the *temple or the work of God. They did not keep the *Sabbaths as special days. They did not respect the *Lord God.

The leaders of Jerusalem were wicked men. They killed people and they stole their wealth. The *prophets should have spoken against these evil deeds. But they did not do so. Instead, they gave false *prophecies. They spoke as if these deeds were good. They lied. They said that they spoke the *Lord’s messages. But the *Lord had not spoken to them. (See Ezekiel 13:1-23)

The people did what their leaders did. They cheated and they robbed the poor people, the weak people and the foreigners.

Verses 30-31 There were true *prophets, for example Ezekiel and Jeremiah. But the leaders and the people would not listen to the true *prophets. God looked for someone who would lead the people to do the right things. Such a person would cause them to *repent and to *turn to God. That person would be like a workman who repairs a wall. Or he would be like a soldier who defends the gap in a city’s wall. His actions would be the opposite of the actions of the false *prophets. They were acting like bad workers who merely cover a weak wall with paint.

So, God looked for a man whom he could trust. He looked for a man who could come to him on behalf of the country. God did not want to destroy the country. But there was no other way. Such a man did not exist. So, God destroyed Judah. His anger was like a fire that nobody could put out.

Ezekiel wrote this as if it had already happened. But the final *disaster was still a few years ahead. The end would happen in 586 *BC.

Chapter 23

·  The *Lord had made special promises to *Israel. Those promises were like the marriage promises that a man makes to his wife. When *Israel divided into two *kingdoms, both parts had that special relationship with the *Lord. But neither part stayed loyal to the *Lord. So the *Lord said that they were like *prostitutes. Their *sins had continued for a long time. And they could not avoid punishment.

The two *prostitutes – Ezekiel 23:1-49

(1) Two sisters – Ezekiel 23:1-4

v1 The *LORD spoke to me again. v2 ‘*Son of man, there were two women. They were daughters of the same mother. v3 While they were young, they became *prostitutes in Egypt. They let men touch and hold their breasts. v4 The older girl was called Oholah, and her sister was called Oholibah. They were mine and they had sons and daughters. Oholah means Samaria, and Oholibah means Jerusalem.’

Verses 1-4 This is the story of two sisters. They had the same mother. The mother means the one nation called *Israel. This nation divided into two. 10 of the 12 *tribes became *Israel, with Samaria as their chief city. The other two *tribes became Judah, with Jerusalem as their chief city. They were one nation in Egypt and until the time of King Solomon.

Even in Egypt, they were not loyal to the *Lord. It was as if they had sex with the gods of Egypt. This story is a picture in words of the relations that they had with nations and false gods. Sex in this story refers to political relations with the nations. But this was the same as a relationship with the gods of those nations. Each nation had its own gods. The gods were very important in the politics of the nations. So, *Israel’s *sins began at the start of the one nation. These *sins increased through the history of the two parts.

The names of the sisters are Oholah and Oholibah. It was quite common to give similar names to sisters or brothers. The meaning of Oholah is ‘her tent.’ The meaning of Oholibah is ‘her tent is mine.’ We do not know why the *Lord gave these names to them. Oholah meant *Israel and Samaria. Oholibah meant Judah and Jerusalem. Oholah was the older girl. This is so in the story because she became a *prostitute first. And God punished her first.

Both of the sisters had children. The sisters and their children belonged to the *Lord. These children meant the people from the two nations called *Israel and Judah.

(2) The *prostitute Samaria – Ezekiel 23:5-10

v5 ‘Although she was mine, Oholah continued to have sex with other men. She desired to have sex with her lovers, that is, the *Assyrians. v6 They were captains and rulers. They wore blue uniforms. They were all handsome young men who rode on horses. v7 She had sex with all the important men in Assyria. She gave herself to all the false gods of her lovers. v8 She did not give up the *prostitution that she began in Egypt. When she was young, men had slept with her. They touched her breasts and they had sex with her.

v9 So, I handed her over to her lovers. They were the *Assyrians, whom she desired. v10 They stripped her naked and they took away her sons and daughters. Then they killed her with a sword. This is how the *Assyrians punished Oholah. Among women, she became well-known because of the punishment that they carried out against her.’

Verses 5-10 Samaria (northern *Israel) was the first of the sisters (that is, the two nations) to *turn from the *Lord. She (Samaria) did not depend on the *Lord for her security. But she made agreements with the strong nations. She contacted the leaders of Assyria. She asked the officials of Assyria to help her (2 Kings 15:13-20). Menahem and the *Israelites paid a lot of money to King Pul of Assyria.

Assyria attracted Samaria because it (Assyria) was strong. A union with Assyria seemed to offer so much. Assyria was the most powerful nation in the world at that time. But the union meant that Samaria had to serve the gods of Assyria. She (Samaria) belonged to the *Lord but she served other gods. So, this *sin was like *prostitution. She had been guilty of this *sin since she was in Egypt.

God gave Samaria to the *Assyrians. They took all the wealth of Samaria. They killed many of the *Israelites. They took the 10 *tribes into *exile in other countries. God used the king of Assyria to remove them from his sight. Then the *Assyrians brought foreigners to live in the country. In 722 *BC, King Shalmaneser of Assyria destroyed Samaria (see 2 Kings chapter 17).

(3) The *prostitute Jerusalem – Ezekiel 23:11-35

v11 ‘Her sister Oholibah saw what happened. But she became a worse *prostitute than her sister was. She chased after more men to have sex with them. v12 She too desired to have sex with the officers and rulers of Assyria. They all wore beautiful clothes. They were handsome young men who rode on horses. v13 I saw that both girls were alike. They were both *prostitutes.

v14 But Oholibah went much further into *sin than did her sister. She saw pictures on the wall of men from Babylon. They were wearing red clothes. v15 They wore belts. And on their heads, they had beautiful hats. All of them were like officers. They were from Babylon in Chaldea, the country of their birth. v16 When she saw them, Oholibah wanted to have sex with them. So, she sent messages to them in Babylon. v17 Then these *Babylonian men came to her. They had sex with her. In their evil desires, they were cruel to her. After that, she *turned away from them in disgust. v18 But she did not stop her behaviour as a *prostitute. She made no secret of it and everyone knew about it. I *turned away from her in disgust, even as I had *turned away from her sister. v19 But she remembered how she was a young *prostitute in Egypt. And she became even more wicked in *sins of sex. v20 She wanted men who would be as powerful during sex as male horses. v21 Oholibah, you desired to do again the wicked things that you had done in your youth. There, in Egypt, men had squeezed and held your young breasts.

v22 Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the *LORD your King says. I will *turn your lovers against you. I will bring those that you *turned away from in disgust. I will make them angry with you and I will cause them to attack you from all sides. v23 Men from Babylon and all Chaldea will attack you. Men from Pekod, Shoa and Koa will attack you. All the *Assyrians will attack you. Those handsome young men, all of them officers and rulers, will come on horseback to fight against you. v24 They will come with large armies, with their arms, horses and wagons. They will dress themselves ready for battle. They will surround you and I will let them punish you. And they will punish by their own standards. v25 I will show the strength of my anger against you when I send them to punish you. They too will be very angry with you. They will cut off your nose and your ears. They will kill your people who are still alive. They will take away your sons and daughters. And they will burn whatever remains. v26 They will strip your clothes from you, and they will take away your beautiful things. v27 So, I will put a stop to the life of *sin and *prostitution that you began in Egypt. Then you will not desire that life or remember Egypt.

v28 This is what the *LORD your King says. I am handing you over to those men that you hate. I am handing you over to those men that you *turned away from in disgust. v29 They will be cruel to you because they hate you. They will take away everything for which you worked. They will leave you naked and bare. Everyone will know the *sins that you have done. They will know that you are a *prostitute. This is the result of your *sin and your *prostitution. v30 You will suffer like this because you had sex with the nations. And you served their false gods. v31 You did the same things that your sister did. So, I will put her cup (which means her punishment) into your hand.

v32 This is what the *LORD your King says. “You will drink the same cup that your sister drank. That cup is deep and wide. Everyone will laugh at you, because the cup is full. v33 You will be very *drunk and very miserable. That cup will cause fear and it will ruin you. It is the cup of your sister Samaria. v34 You will drink all that is in the cup. You will break it in pieces and you will tear off your breasts. I have spoken, declares the *LORD your King.

v35 Therefore, this is what the *LORD your King says. You have forgotten me and you have *turned your back on me. You must suffer the punishment of all your sex acts.’

Verses 11-13 The people in Jerusalem and Judah saw what happened to Samaria. But they did not learn from that experience. Instead, Jerusalem became much worse than Samaria was. The kings of Aram and *Israel attacked Judah. King Ahaz of Judah sent messages to Assyria to ask for help. Then he served the gods of Assyria. He even replaced the *altar of the *Lord with an *altar to a false god (see 2 Kings chapter 16). Just as Oholah had loved the *Assyrians, so did Oholibah. To God they were both *prostitutes.

Verses 14-21 The next major powerful nation to appear was Babylon. It seems that trade developed between Judah and Babylon. When King Hezekiah was ill, he received visitors from Babylon. He showed them all the wealth in Judah (2 Kings chapter 20). When Jehoiakim ruled in Jerusalem he had to pay money to Egypt. To avoid this he promised to serve the king of Babylon (2 Kings 23:35-24:2). He *turned again to Egypt to help against Babylon.

God *turned in disgust from Judah as he had from Samaria. Judah had not been loyal to God since her (Judah’s) young days in Egypt. With each of her partners, she had served their foreign gods.

Verses 22-27 The *Lord tells how he will punish Jerusalem and Judah. He will cause all her (Jerusalem’s) partners to *turn against her. They had been loyal to their own gods. But Jerusalem had not been loyal to them or to her God. For these reasons, they *turn from her in disgust. In their anger, they will attack Jerusalem and Judah.

The main enemy will be Babylon. With Babylon will be those *tribes and nations over which she rules. These include the *tribes of Pekod, Shoa and Koa. The *Chaldeans were the major *tribe in Babylon. The army of Assyria will be with that of Babylon. Large and strong armies will attack Jerusalem.

The armies will surround Jerusalem. And God will allow them to defeat the city. He will allow them to punish the people by their own cruel standards.

They will cut off noses and ears. This was an awful and cruel punishment for a wife who had sex with another man.

The *Babylonians will send many of the people into *exile. They will kill the rest of the people. They will take all the valuable things. Then they will destroy and burn the city called Jerusalem.

Judah would then forget Egypt. In other words, the people from Judah would never again look to Egypt for help. They would never again serve foreign gods.

Verses 28-31 The *Lord repeats the same message. Judah had *turned away in disgust from her (Judah’s) partners. Now they hated Judah. The *Lord will hand Judah to them. They will take away all that has value. They will destroy Jerusalem.

All the nations will know the *sins of Judah. Jerusalem and Judah did not trust their God. Instead, they *turned for help to other nations. They were not loyal to God. But they served the gods of the nations. These are the reasons why they will suffer.

Samaria had done the same things. The *Lord had punished Samaria. So now, Jerusalem must suffer the same punishment.

Verse 32-35 Here is a poem about the cup of Samaria. The cup refers to the anger of the *Lord. Samaria had to drink from it. That is, Samaria suffered the anger of the *Lord. Jerusalem must drink from the same cup. So, Jerusalem will suffer the anger of the *Lord also.

The nations will see the shame of Jerusalem. Fear and despair will fill the city. The anger of God will ruin the city. The inhabitants will feel great terror when they see these events. They will be greatly ashamed. They will feel like a *prostitute who tears her own body because of her shame.

The chief reason for this *disaster is that Judah and Jerusalem neglected God. The people had *turned from the real God and they served false gods.

(4) The punishment of the *prostitutes – Ezekiel 23:36-49

v36 The *LORD said to me, ‘*Son of man, you will be the judge of Oholah and Oholibah. Accuse them of the disgusting things that they have done. v37 They are guilty of wicked sex acts and murder. They have had sex with their false gods. They have taken my children that were born to them. And they have given those children as food for their false gods. v38 Also they have done this to me. At the same time, they ruined my *temple. And they did things on my *Sabbath days that they should not have done. v39 They killed their children for their false gods. That same day they went into my *temple to ruin it. That is what they did in my house.

v40 They even sent a message for men to come from a distant country. When the men arrived, the two sisters bathed for them. The sisters painted their eyes and they put on their beautiful things. v41 The sisters sat on a fine bed. They had arranged a table in front of the bed. On the table, they put my *incense and my oil.

v42 There was a noisy crowd in party mood. There was a group of men from the deserts. These men had drunk too much alcohol. They put rings on the arms of the two sisters and beautiful crowns on their heads. v43 Her way of life had worn out one of the sisters. Then I said about her, “Now let them use her as a *prostitute. That is what she is.” v44 The men went to her as they would go to a *prostitute. So, they had sex with Oholah and with Oholibah. These are two wicked women. v45 But good men will declare that these women are guilty. They will decide that these women deserve punishment. These women are wives that are not loyal to their husband. They are *prostitutes and they are guilty of murder.’

v46 This is what the *LORD your King says. ‘Bring together a crowd against them to frighten them and to rob their possessions. v47 The crowd will throw stones at them to kill them. The crowd will cut them down with their swords. The crowd will kill their sons and daughters. And the crowd will burn their houses down.

v48 So, I will end the *sins of sex in the country. This will warn all women not to imitate you. v49 You will suffer the punishment for your wicked deeds. You will suffer because of your *sinful *worship of false gods. Then you will know that I am the *LORD your King.’

Verses 36-39 God told Ezekiel to declare judgement against both Samaria and Jerusalem. They were both guilty of many crimes. They both went to other nations for help and they did not trust God. They both *turned from God to serve foreign gods. In the awful religion of the false gods, the people even killed their own sons and daughters. This was murder and it was against the law of God (Exodus 20:13). They did many of these evil things in the *temple of the *Lord. They did not obey the rules for the *Sabbaths (Exodus 20:8-11). They even did these wicked things on the *Sabbath day. It was a terrible insult to God to practice these wicked religions in the holy *temple of God.

Verses 40-45 These two cities had attracted foreign nations to come to them. They were like *prostitutes who call out for lovers. They made themselves as attractive as they could. They entertained their guests and they even used the holy things for their wicked purposes.

We do not know who the group from the desert were. They may have been the people called Arabians, Moabites, *Edomites or Sabeans.

The sisters have not been loyal to their God. They were guilty of murder and *sins of sex. This awful way of life had worn out one of the sisters. This means that Samaria had gone. But Jerusalem was still active. Now God would let the nations punish Jerusalem.

Verses 46-49 People might discover a wife as she was having sex with a man other than her husband. Then they would take her in front of an angry crowd. And the whole crowd would throw stones at her to kill her (Exodus 20:10). They might even kill her children by the other man. (However, God’s law did not allow this – Deuteronomy 24:16.) If she had a house, they would burn it. So, God would bring the armies of Babylon and Assyria to punish Jerusalem. They would kill the people and they would destroy the city. They would burn Jerusalem.

The *Israelites had not been loyal to their God. They had *turned to false gods from the time that they were in Egypt. They did not trust in their God, as they should. They went to foreign nations for help.

The *exiles will soon see the punishment of Jerusalem. Then they will know that the *Lord is God.

Chapter 24

·  The punishment of Judah would happen soon. The *Lord compared Jerusalem to a cooking pot that nobody could clean. And then the *Lord informed Ezekiel that his wife would die. But Ezekiel must not allow the people to see how sad he was. In the same manner, the *Israelites would be unable to express their sad feelings after the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem.

God destroys Jerusalem – Ezekiel 24:1-27

(1) The pot on the fire – Ezekiel 24:1-14

v1 In the 9th year of our *exile, on the 10th day of 10th month, the *LORD spoke to me. v2 ‘*Son of man, record this date, this very day. Today the king of Babylon has surrounded Jerusalem with his army. v3 Tell this story to the people who refused to obey me. Say to them, “The *LORD your King says this. Put the pot on the fire and pour water into it. v4 Put pieces of meat into it. Put in the best pieces, the legs and shoulders. Fill it up with the best bones. v5 For this purpose, choose the best of your sheep. Put a lot of wood under the pot. Boil the meat and cook the bones with it.

v6 The *LORD your King says this. How terrible it will be for the city. There were so many murders in that city. It is like a dirty pot and the dirt will not come off. Take the meat out of the pot, one piece after another. Do not choose any special piece.

v7 The blood from those people that she (Jerusalem) killed is in the city. She poured the blood on the bare rock. She did not pour it on the ground where dust would cover it. v8 To cause anger and punishment, I have put her blood on the bare rock. There nobody can cover it.

v9 So, this is what the *LORD your King says. How terrible it will be for the city where there were so many murders. I myself will put a large pile of wood to burn that city. v10 So, heap on the wood and light the fire. Cook the meat well and mix in the powders for flavour. Burn the bones. v11 Then put the empty pot on the coals so that it may become hot. Heat the pot until the metal glows. Then the unclean substances will melt and the dirt will burn away. v12 But all efforts to clean the pot have failed. Nobody can remove the dirt even in the fire.

v13 By your wicked actions, you have become *unclean. I tried to clean you, but you are still *unclean. You will not be clean from your *sin until I have satisfied my anger against you.

v14 I, the *LORD, have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back. I will not pity, nor will I change my mind. I will punish you because of your way of life and because of what you have done. This is what the *LORD your King declares to you.” ’

Verses 1-2 The *Lord spoke to Ezekiel. It was on the day that King Nebuchadnezzar’s army surrounded Jerusalem. That was in the month of January in the year 588 *BC. This was two years and 5 months after the previous messages (see chapter 20:1). What Ezekiel had said was now starting to happen.

God told Ezekiel to record the date. The news would soon reach the *exiles. Then they will know that Ezekiel spoke from God. And God would do all that he had said by Ezekiel.

Verses 3-5 Ezekiel told this story to the *Israelites in *exile. It is a story about what would happen next in Jerusalem. This story was to show how awful it would be. Ezekiel wrote it in the form of a poem or song. The poem describes how to cook meat. Put a pot of water on the fire. Put into the water the best joints of meat. Put in the best bones. With plenty of wood and bones on the fire, boil the contents of the pot.

The pot meant Jerusalem. The best joints and bones meant the leaders and important people. The wood and the bones on the fire meant the people in the city. This passage is similar to the *prophecy in Ezekiel 11:3, 11:7 and 11:11.

Verses 6-8 The pot, which meant Jerusalem, was not just dirty. The blood of the murders had damaged the pot. In other words, those evil deeds had ruined Jerusalem. Nobody could repair it. Nobody could make it clean again. The only solution was to destroy Jerusalem.

Some of the people would not die. The *Babylonians would take them out of the city, even as the cook took some of the meat from the pot. Those people would go into *exile.

The people in Jerusalem could not hide the awful things that they had done. Those deeds were like blood on the bare rock. So, everyone would see the *sins of the people. And they would know that God has punished them.

Verses 9-14 The *Lord says clearly that he is punishing Jerusalem. The foreign armies were as tools for this task. The *Babylonians would clear the city of people. Many people would die in the city. Those people who remained alive would go into *exile.

The *Lord had to clean the city. In the end, the pot on the fire would melt. The great heat of the fire would destroy the pot but it would clean the metal. So, God would destroy Jerusalem to make the city clean again. So, he would satisfy his anger.

God had spoken this message. He would do what he said. He would not change his mind. He would not pity the people. He would punish them. The time had come and there could be no more delay.

(2) The death of Ezekiel’s wife – Ezekiel 24:15-27

v15 Then the *LORD spoke to me again. v16 ‘*Son of man, I shall take your wife from you. The woman that you love will die a sudden death. You must not be sad or weep. You must not cry and your eyes must not flow with tears. v17 Sigh, but not aloud. Do not cry aloud for your dead wife. Wear your normal clothes, hat and shoes. Do not cover your face. Do not eat different foods as those who are sad about a death.’

v18 In the morning, I spoke to the people. In the evening, my wife died. Next morning, I did what the *Lord told me to do.

v19 Then the people asked me this question. ‘Please tell us what you are doing. What do these things mean for us?’

v20 Then I told them, ‘The *LORD spoke to me. v21 Say to the *Israelites, “The *LORD your King says this. I will ruin my *temple. You think it gives you strength. You are proud of it. It was the delight of your eyes, and what your heart desired. And your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall die by the sword. v22 When that happens, you must act like me. You must not cover your faces. You must not eat the food of those who are sad about a death. v23 Your hats must stay on your heads, and your shoes on your feet. You must not cry aloud. But you will be weak because of your *sins. You will be sad and you will sigh to each other.

v24 Ezekiel will be a sign to you. You will do what he has done. All this will happen. Then you will know that I am the *LORD your King.”

v25 And *son of man, this is what will happen. I will take away the *temple that gives them strength and joy. I will take away that building which makes them proud. They looked at it with love, and it made them happy. Also, I will take away their sons and daughters. v26 On that day, a person will escape. He will come to tell you the bad news. v27 At that time, I will open your mouth. You will speak with that person, and you will not still be silent. And you will be a sign to them. They will know that I am the *LORD.’

Verses 15-17 The *Lord informs Ezekiel that his wife will die. It will be a sudden death. Ezekiel loved his wife so her loss would be painful. But he must not cry or show any emotion. He may hurt inside but he must not show it.

There were particular customs for people who were sad after a death. They would tear their clothes. They would wear the rough material from which they made sacks. They would take off their shoes and hats. They would shave their heads and they would put earth on their heads. They would cover the lower half of their faces. They would lie down or sit on ashes. They would eat no food for a day. Their family and friends would come to sympathise. And they would pay other people to weep with them. All these people would weep and scream aloud. The *Lord told Ezekiel to do none of these things.

Verses 18-24 Ezekiel was speaking to the people in the morning. Then, in the evening, his wife died. Ezekiel would have buried his wife the next day. He then did as the *Lord had told him. Probably, it was very hard for Ezekiel to obey the *Lord. But the *Lord’s instructions were for a purpose. The *exiles could see that there must be some reason for Ezekiel’s unusual behaviour. So, they came to ask him what it meant.

Ezekiel’s wife had been his delight and he was proud of her. The delight of the *exiles had been the *temple of the *Lord in Jerusalem. (Of course, they were not loyal to the *Lord. But they were still proud about the *temple. It was probably the most splendid building in Jerusalem. It impressed everyone who saw it.) However, the *Lord would soon destroy the *temple. And their families who were still in Jerusalem would die. When they hear the news, they must be like Ezekiel. As Ezekiel acted after the death of his wife, so they must act.

All this would happen soon. Then they will know that the *Lord is God.

Verses 25-27 The *Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and the *temple. That same day, a person would escape and he would bring the news to the *exiles. This happened in Ezekiel 33:21. That person would have to travel a long way to reach Ezekiel and the other *exiles in Babylon. So, it was probably 6 months after the event when he actually arrived with the news.

For some years, Ezekiel had been unable to speak except as the *Lord told him (Ezekiel 3:26-27). Now he would be able to speak again. And the *exiles will know that the *Lord is the God of *Israel.

Word List

AD ~ years after Christ was born.

allegory ~ the words are not about actual things but are word pictures of a truth.

altar ~ the special table where people burn animals or offer other gifts to God or to false gods.

Ammonites ~ a person from the nation called Ammon or anything that has a relationship with Ammon.

Amorite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.

ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.

angel ~ God’s special servants in heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.

Assyrians ~ a person from the nation called Assyria or anything that has a relationship with Assyria.

Babylonian ~ a person from the nation called Babylon or anything that has a relationship with Babylon.

barley ~ a type of grain crop.

bath ~ equal to 6 gallons.

BC ~ years before Christ was born.

beryl ~ a precious stone.

break ~ not to perform a promise; not to obey a law.

bronze ~ A brown metal. It glows when in a fire. It polishes well and it reflects the light. It is very strong.

bulls ~ the male farm animals which mate with cows.

cedar ~ a kind of tree.

Chaldeans ~ another name for the *Babylonians.

Cherethites ~ another name for the *Philistines.

cherub ~ a special *angel who was in the most holy place in the *temple.

cherubim ~ the group of *cherubs.

circumcise ~ to cut off skin from the end of a male’s private parts.

circumcision ~ the act or result when someone *circumcises a man.

clean ~ acceptable to God.

creatures ~ Things that are alive. In this Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel saw 4 special creatures. Those 4 creatures are called the *cherubim.

crocodile ~ a very large animal that lives in and by water.

cubit ~ a length of about half a metre.

destroy ~ to carry out the most severe punishment possible; to cause someone to suffer; to kill everyone in a nation.

disaster ~ when something very bad happens.

doves ~ a type of bird.

drunk ~ a description of a person who has drunk too much alcohol.

dung ~ toilet matter (dirt) that we and animals pass from our bodies.

eagle ~ a very large and quick bird.

earthquake ~ When the earth shakes, that is an earthquake.

ebony ~ a very hard wood.

Edomite ~ a person from the nation called Edom or anything that has a relationship with Edom.

Egyptian ~ a person from the nation called Egypt or anything that has a relationship with Egypt.

elbow ~ where the lower part of a person’s arm joins to the upper arm.

ephah ~ equal to 22 litres.

eternal life ~ the life with God that will never end.

eternal state ~ the new heaven and the new earth that will never end.

exile ~ When people have to live in a foreign country they are in exile. Such a person is called an exile.

gerah ~ equal to one 20th of an ounce.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

grapes ~ fruit of a *vine (a climbing plant). You can make grapes into wine.

Hebrew ~ the language of *Israel.

hin ~ equal to one gallon.

Hittite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.

holy ~ a holy object is special; it is only for religion. God himself and his name are also called ‘holy’. This means that God and his name are perfect, in fact, even more than perfect.

homer ~ equal to 220 litres.

horns ~ hard bones on an animal’s head; a thing like a stick, with a point, that grows on the heads of cows and some sheep. On the corners of the *altar are things like horns, which are called the ‘horns of the *altar’.

incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.

Israel ~ Israel is the nation whose *ancestors were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The country in which they live is called Israel. Israel became the name of the northern nation when it separated from Judah. However, Ezekiel sometimes uses the word ‘Israel’ to refer to Judah.

Israelites ~ the people whose *ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

ivory ~ the white bony material from the face of an elephant.

Jews ~ another name for the *Israelites.

keep ~ to perform a promise or to obey a law.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules.

lead ~ a kind of metal.

Levites ~ members of the *tribe whose *ancestor is Levi, son of Jacob.

look-out ~ a person whose duty is to warn of danger.

Lord ~ a title for God, to show that he is over all people and things.

LORD ~ ‘LORD’ is the special name that God gave to himself. It probably means ‘always God’. This name has a relationship with the special promises that God gave to his people.

Messiah ~ The *Jews expect a king to come who will save them. That king, called the Messiah, will rule both them and all people.

millennium ~ the rule of Christ on the earth for 1000 years (Revelation chapter 20).

Moabite ~ a person from the nation called Moab or anything that has a relationship with that nation.

mina ~ equal to one and a quarter pounds in weight.

mules ~ animals like horses.

oak ~ a kind of tree.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

ox ~ a large and strong animal that farmers used.

Passover ~ the time of the year when the *Jews remember how God brought them out of Egypt.

Philistine ~ a person from the nation called Philistia or anything that has a relationship with that nation.

pour out (anger) ~ to act because of anger.

prophecy ~ a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future. However, false prophets are people who merely pretend to speak God’s words.

prostitute ~ a woman who receives payment when she offers her body for sex. There are also male prostitutes.

prostitution ~ what a *prostitute does.

repent ~ to change the mind; to *turn away from *sin and *turn to God.

ruined ~ the state of buildings and whole cities when armies destroy everything completely.

Sabbath ~ The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. God told the *Israelites to keep it as a special day.

sacrifice ~ The priests killed a special animal and they burned it on an *altar. That animal was called a sacrifice. They offered a sacrifice when they asked God to forgive *sins. When Jesus died, he was the perfect sacrifice for our *sins. Animals or people whom God or other people kill for a purpose are also sacrifices (see Ezekiel 39:17). And people also made sacrifices to false gods.

sapphire ~ a precious stone.

satisfied ~ content; a description of a person who has had enough of something.

scorpion ~ a large insect that stings with its tail.

scroll ~ a book in the form of a long piece of material which one rolls up.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

shields ~ Soldiers carried these in their hands for protection in battle. They used them like covers, so that swords or other *weapons could not hit the body.

sin ~ Sin means the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God. People are called sinners because of their sins.

son of man ~ Ezekiel. ‘Son of man’ was the title that God used for Ezekiel. It emphasised that Ezekiel was a mere man. Ezekiel would have to depend on God’s Spirit to make him strong. Only then could Ezekiel do what God told him to do.

spears ~ long sticks with sharp ends that soldiers used as *weapons of war.

spices ~ a vegetable substance with a sweet flavour or a strong smell. People use spices in food or as *incense.

stubborn ~ to have an attitude that will not change.

sulphur ~ Sulphur is a chemical. A fire that burns with sulphur is extremely hot. And sulphur burns with an awful smell.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God or other gods. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God.

thorn bush ~ a thorn is a sharp bit on a bush.

throne ~ the special chair for the king.

tribe ~ The *Israelites were divided into the 12 families of the sons of Jacob. These families are the 12 tribes of *Israel.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument. A trumpet makes a loud sound when a person blows into it.

turn ~ to change your behaviour, your friends, or your God; or, to carry out actions in order to oppose someone.

turquoise ~ a precious stone.

umbilical cord ~ that which joins a baby to its mother; someone must cut it after the birth.

unclean ~ unfit for sacred purposes. Unclean food is food that the *Jews should not eat because of their religion. When the *temple was unclean, it was not right for the *worship of God.

vine ~ a plant on which *grapes grow.

vision ~ something that God shows to a person but not with the physical sight. Visions are often in the form of dreams.

weapon ~ a tool of war. People use weapons for attack or defence when they fight. For example, swords, *spears or (today) guns.

willow ~ a kind of tree.

wolves ~ wild animals that are similar to large dogs.

worship ~ an act to give honour to God (or to a false god). When people praise and thank God.

yeast ~ When one bakes bread, yeast causes it to rise.

Book List

Ralph H Alexander in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Leslie C Allen in the Word Biblical Commentary

Charles Lee Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel

H L Ellison – Ezekiel the Man and his Message

Bibles: NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NCV, ASV, CEV, GNB, GW, KJV, LITV, MKJV.

 

© 2008, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

January 2008

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