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This chapter contains three separate words of the LORD, each beginning with the phrase, “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 22:1; Ezekiel 22:17Ezekiel 22:23). These words of the LORD have as their common theme the defilement of Israel. The messages can be given the following titles:
1. The bloody city (Ezekiel 22:1-Nehemiah :).
2. The melting furnace (Ezekiel 22:17-Song of Solomon :).
3. The corrupted land (Ezekiel 22:23-Obadiah :).
The Bloody City
This chapter is one long list of sins. The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 22:1). Again addressed as “the son of man” he is commanded to judge the blood city, that is Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:2). The title “son of man” reminds us of the Lord Jesus, Who, as the Son of Man, is given by the Father authority to execute judgment (John 5:27). The city has become so depraved that God calls the city “blood city” (Ezekiel 24:6; Ezekiel 24:9). Nineveh is given a similar name (Nahum 3:1). Jerusalem is given that name because of the blood that has flowed within its walls. Ezekiel has to present the city with its abominations. ‘Abomination’ always has to do with idolatry. All injustice flows from it.
God tells Ezekiel what to say to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:3). He does not use flattering words. Violence and idolatry are mentioned in the same breath. Violence and idolatry have made the city guilty and defiled (Ezekiel 22:4). As a result, the end of the city is also in sight. God will turn the city over to the nations. Instead of being a blessing to the surrounding nations – which is God’s intention for Jerusalem – the nations smear Jerusalem and mock her.
This mockery comes both from the peoples near Jerusalem and from the peoples far from her (Ezekiel 22:5). Her guilt and uncleanness are so great that it is spoken of as far away as the nations. God holds her up as one “of ill repute, full of turmoil”. Uncleanness, sin, is the end of all togetherness. Chaos ensues. No one thinks of others anymore, for each is concerned only with and for himself.
The rulers, those in charge, have abused their power (Ezekiel 22:6). They have ranted violently. In doing so, they relied on their power. In their position of power they have mocked the law. They have killed people for the sake of it. They do not care about the law of God.
The commandment to honor father and mother they trample on contemptuously (Ezekiel 22:7). They care nothing for their parents (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 20:20). The stranger in their midst also has to suffer. This socially isolated group depends on the kindness of others to have an income. But the rulers see in this group only an opportunity to make money. They do not spare the socially weak as orphans and widows. Instead of supporting them in their oppression they oppress them even more severely.
Of course, God also has to take the blame (Ezekiel 22:8). They don’t give Him what He is entitled to. Not only that, they treat the gifts sanctified for Him with contempt – just as they do their parents. They don’t care about justice at all (Ezekiel 22:9). They welcome slanderers with open arms. They hire slanderers and send them out to get people out of the way (cf. 1 Kgs 21:4-13). Then they go with them to the mountains to sacrifice to the idols and on that occasion also eat from the idol sacrifices. The disgraceful behavior of these slanderers they allow to continue in their midst undisturbed.
They also set aside all the commandments about marriage and sexuality that God has given (Ezekiel 22:10-1 Kings :). Incest is committed in shameful and multiple ways. By “the father’s nakedness” is meant the father’s wife (cf. Deuteronomy 27:20; 2 Samuel 16:21-Isaiah :; 1 Corinthians 5:1). They do not worry about God’s prohibition against having intercourse with a woman who is menstruating (Leviticus 18:19), but humble her. The same goes for intercourse with his neighbor’s wife (Leviticus 18:20). The son’s wife is not safe either, but one takes her for one’s own satisfaction (Leviticus 18:15). The same is true of the sister (Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 18:11; Deuteronomy 27:22; 2 Samuel 13:12).
Nothing is sacred, nothing is safe, no one is spared. God’s commandments regarding marriage and sexuality are repugnantly violated. They are guilty of abominable incest. No uncleanness is too filthy for them. In their excesses, they act “like unreasoning animals” (Jude 1:10), and not as creatures who have reason.
As easily as they trample on marriage - and family law, they allow themselves to be bribed to convict and put to death innocent people (Ezekiel 22:12). They demand excessive interest and usury from those in their power. They extort their neighbor, the compatriot. They take advantage of the neighbor’s misery to benefit themselves.
The root cause of all the sins mentioned in detail is stated at the conclusion of Ezekiel 22:12: they forgot God. Those who live with God and ask His for will will not break His law. They have no use for the law because they do not live with God and do not ask for His will. As a result, they know no brake on their disgusting behavior. The only limit they know for their abominable deeds is that of their possibilities.
In great indignation about Jerusalem’s criminal behavior, the LORD smites His hand (Ezekiel 22:13). The greed for money of her inhabitants as a root of all evil has led them to murder. The blood of the victims has flowed in her midst. When the LORD comes to deal with the inhabitants, their talk will be over. Their hearts will fail and their strength will disappear when He acts against them (Ezekiel 22:14). They need not doubt that it will happen, for it will happen because the LORD has spoken. His speaking is His acting.
He will drive the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the land and scatter them and disperse them among the nations in the lands around them (Ezekiel 22:15). In this way the LORD will cleanse Jerusalem of uncleanness. She has herself to blame for being thus profaned before the eyes of the nations (Ezekiel 22:16). Also, this is proof that the LORD has done it. Jerusalem will thereby know that He is the LORD.
The Melting Furnace
Immediately follows a new speaking of the LORD as a continuation of what He has just said (Ezekiel 22:17). He tells Ezekiel that He compares those “who are of the house of Israel” to the dross of precious metal that comes to the surface when the fire is hotly heated (Ezekiel 22:18; cf. Psalms 119:119; Proverbs 25:4; Isaiah 1:22; Isaiah 1:25; Jeremiah 6:27-Amos :). Dross that comes to the surface can be scooped up from the precious metal and cast away. Israel, that is the ungodly mass, will be revealed by the judgment as worthless dross and will be scooped up and cast away.
When the Babylonian forces enter Judah, the inhabitants of the land will flee within the walls of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:19). Jerusalem then becomes the melting furnace and God’s judgment becomes the melting process. The people of the land who fled to Jerusalem and all who are already in Jerusalem are compared to five metals (Ezekiel 22:20). They are gathered in the midst of Jerusalem as in a furnace, in which they will melt. With them, however, no Son of Man enters the furnace, as with the friends of Daniel (Daniel 3:25).
He has gathered His people into the furnace. It is also He who lights the fire, God Himself. He will blow on the fire of His wrath and melt them (Ezekiel 22:21). Again He says that they will be melted in the midst of the city (Ezekiel 22:22). By this they will know that He has poured out His wrath on them.
The Wicked Land
The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel again (Ezekiel 22:23). He – again called “son of man” – is to speak to the land and not just to Jerusalem about their shameful behavior (Ezekiel 22:24). Because of their refusal to cleanse themselves, the land remains unclean. Therefore, it has received no rain and is barren. Instead of fruit for the LORD that they themselves can enjoy, His wrath comes upon them.
All sections of the people are involved in the unfaithfulness to God. First the prophets are mentioned (Ezekiel 22:25). They, who are to call God’s people to return to Him, as ‘peers’, secretly make ‘price agreements’ to enrich themselves on the people. They act like a roaring lion tearing apart prey. So cruelly do they deal with God’s people for the sake of wealth and valuables they take from the people. They murder to the point that many women become widows.
The second category are the priests (Ezekiel 22:26). They are to present and live out the law to the people (Deuteronomy 33:10; Malachi 2:7), but they adapt the law and break it themselves. They do not give God the gifts sanctified to Him, but use them for themselves (cf. 1 Samuel 2:16). As priests, they should know better than anyone what the distinction between holy and profane is (Leviticus 10:10; Leviticus 11:47), but to them it is no matter of concern. Mixing of good and evil is a common thing for them, as long as it benefits themselves.
They don’t turn just a blind eye with regard to keeping the sabbath, but they close both their eyes. What God has said about the sabbath does not interest them at all. God is not being sanctified in their midst, but profaned.
The princes, the rulers, are no better than the categories already mentioned (Ezekiel 22:27). Instead of protecting the citizens and standing up for their rights, they think only of themselves. They cruelly engage in self-enrichment. The comparison to wolves in the midst of God’s people is telling. They tear apart their prey only to shed blood. This is how they destroy people, with the purpose of profiting from it.
Once again, the prophets come into play (Ezekiel 22:28). This category is characterized by falsehood, the previous by violence (Ezekiel 22:25). They make themselves look pretty, they act as if nothing is wrong. They moderate themselves to speak in the Name of the Lord GOD, while seeing nothing but false visions and divining lies. They say what people like to hear instead of presenting the terrible reality and calling for repentance. What they say, the LORD has not spoken, let that be clear!
The last category is the people of the land (Ezekiel 22:29). This group is no better than the previous categories who have some responsibility, but imitate them in their outrageous behavior. The people of the land also indulge in oppression and robbery. Poor and needy and foreigners are the victims who are robbed of their property without pity.
No One Stands in the Gap
Then we hear the astonishment of the LORD at what He notices, namely, that there is no one who knows how to direct the people in the right direction (Ezekiel 22:30; cf. Isaiah 59:16; Psalms 106:23; Jeremiah 5:1). Evil is so common that no wall can be built up to avert the judgment of God. There is no one to stand before Him as the representative of the people to keep Him from His intention. There is no intercessor to fill the gap that has been made in the wall of separation, through which idolatry flows freely in. There is no one to stop that flow. That is how common the apostasy is.
The LORD is so appalled at this that He “poured out” His indignation on them (Ezekiel 22:31). It is written here in the past tense, as if it had already taken place. The people are so unchangeable in their sinful behavior that He has put an end to them by the fire of His wrath. What they get is what they themselves have asked for. Their way comes down on their own heads. They reap what they have sown.
It is an exhortation for us to stand up for God’s rights in the midst of an apostate Christianity and to stand in the gap. We can pray that God in His grace will not let judgment come yet, but will bring many back to faithfulness to Him. That is one of the greatest benefits that we can bestow on God’s people and, above all, honor God with. The Lord Jesus is the great Intercessor and Mediator. He is our example and we may follow Him in this too.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent