TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 21-23
Judgment pronounced against Jerusalem (chapter twenty-one); Jerusalem’s sin (chapter twenty-two); Jerusalem’s seduction (chapter twenty-three)
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Chapter twenty-one contains instruction from God for Ezekiel to sigh in the midst of the people. When asked by the people the reason for his bitterness and groaning, he is instructed to again remind Israel that God’s judgment is imminent. God uses the visual image of a sword to picture His judgment in this chapter. In the historical context the sword represents the king of Babylon (21:19). This sword foreshadows the day Christ will come in judgment upon this earth with a sword (the Word of God – Revelation 19:15).
Ezekiel is also instructed to make a map and to trace on it two routes for the king of Babylon to follow. One route goes to Jerusalem, while the other route will take him to Rabbath of the Ammonites. Ammon had conspired with Judah in 593 BC to rebel against Babylon. The question was whether the king of Babylon would decide to attack Rabbath or Jerusalem. Ezekiel is instructed to illustrate how the king of Babylon would call upon his gods to decide which path to take and which city to attack. To determine his course, the king of Babylon would use three types of magic. The first type of magic was the use of arrows. The arrows would be marked with a name, put in a quiver, and whirled about. The first one to fall out would reflect the decision of the god. The next form of magic was the use of “images” or teraphims (see side note in center column of Bible). These images were mummified children’s heads. The third, and most common, form of magic was the liver. It invol!
ved distinguishing judgment based upon the color of a sacrificed lamb’s liver. Upon hearing from his gods, the king of Babylon would choose to attack Jerusalem.
The Jews were skeptical of Ezekiel’s continual prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem. They doubted that the magic of the king of Babylon would result in his choosing Jerusalem as a target, and further doubted his ability to take the city (21:23). Although the king of Babylon was using magic, his heart was in the hand of God (Proverbs 21:1). God would use the king’s magic to bring judgment against His people. God instructs Israel to remove the diadem (worn by the priests) and the crown (worn by the kings). Neither of these offices would be restored after the captivity. The historical “wicked prince of Israel” is Zedekiah (21:25-27). In this context, Zedekiah typifies the coming anti-Christ. The fact that God uses the term “overturn” three times expresses the severest judgment against these offices. These offices will be no more until Christ comes, who has a right to both offices. At that time God will give Him both offices.
Ezekiel chronicles Jerusalem’s sins in chapter twenty-two. Once again God begins by judging the leadership. He specifically mentions the prophets, priests and princes (22:25-28). The specific sin of the priests was their violation of the law by not distinguishing between that which was holy and that which was profane (22:26). The sin of the princes was their desire to make money at the expense of people (22:27). The sin of the prophets was lying about what God had said (Ezekiel 22:28).
God looked for a man among the leadership to stand in the gap. He found none. Even Ezekiel and Jeremiah were unable to turn the heart of the children of Israel to repentance. However, there was a man who would come 400 years later who would stand in the gap for all mankind!
Chapter twenty-three serves as one of the most vivid illustrations of the seduction of sin. This process can be summed up in three steps: 1) Desired 2) Delivered 3) Destroyed.
Israel was the Northern Kingdom and Jerusalem the Southern Kingdom. These cities were their capitals. Samaria (Northern Kingdom) and Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom) are likened to two women who are seduced into adultery by “lovers.” Samaria was seduced by Assyria (this historical alliance is recorded in Isaiah 7:1-2, 10:5-11) and Judah was seduced by Egypt. Israel was repeatedly warned in the Bible not to go to Egypt for help. However, Israel continually disobeyed God’s instruction. This culminated in Zedekiah’s formation of an alliance with Egypt against Babylon (17:15). The process goes as follows. We start by beginning to desire what we shouldn’t (23:5-7, James 1:14). Eventually, we will be delivered to our own lusts (23:9, James 1:15). After we have been delivered to what we have desired, our sin will destroy us (23:10, James 1:15). Both Samaria and Jerusalem got what they wanted, and it ended up destroying them both.
There are some other principles contained in this chapter.
• Lust for what we see will eventually lead to actions (23:14-16).
• What we see can destroy our mind (23:17).
• Those who seduce us in the name of “love” will eventually hate us (23:22, 28).
What a warning against the consequences of viewing pornography. What a warning to those who covet wrong relationships!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the One who has the “right” to be both Priest and King ruling over Israel – Eze. 21:27
As the One who will stand in the gap – Eze. 22:30