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In the previous chapters, Ezekiel has always told the exiles that Jerusalem will also be judged. The exiles believe that things are still good in Jerusalem and that it must be very nice to be there. Ezekiel has described to them at length the sins of Jerusalem and that therefore the LORD will give up the city to judgment.
That thought does not enter the minds of the exiles. They simply do not believe the LORD and His servant Ezekiel. They have all kinds of arguments to reject Ezekiel’s claims. These arguments are related to their national pride and their wrong view of the LORD and of the remnant in Jerusalem. They glorify their religious center. They believe that the LORD will never give up His city and His temple. Therefore, to them Ezekiel is a gloom and false prophet. In this chapter, the LORD no longer speaks of a judgment that is coming soon, but of a judgment that is in progress.
Parable of the Boiling Pot
This chapter also begins with the introductory words that the word of the LORD is coming to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 24:1). But now a particularity is added and that is the date on which it happens. In fact, that date is so special that Ezekiel has to write that date down (Ezekiel 24:2). What makes the date special is that on this day the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 52:4). This day is later kept as a day of fasting during the exile (Zechariah 8:19).
First, a parable is told in Ezekiel 24:3-Deuteronomy :. The explanation follows in Ezekiel 24:6-Ruth :, while new details are added in Ezekiel 24:9-2 Chronicles :. Ezekiel is commanded to present the siege of Jerusalem in a parable to the rebellious house of Israel (Ezekiel 24:3). Here we see a prophetic representation whose fulfillment occurs at the same time. The symbol and the event coincide. The judgment that Ezekiel announces through his parable is being carried out at the same time hundreds of miles away.
Ezekiel is to put a boiling pot on the fire and put water in the pot (cf. Jeremiah 1:13). Then he must put good pieces of flesh and choice bones into the pot (Ezekiel 24:4). He must take the choicest of the flock and put the bones in the pot (Ezekiel 24:5). He must make it boil vigorously, paying special attention to the bones that they seethe. In order for bones to cook, the fire must be very hot. By the choicest of meat and bones is meant the most distinguished of the people, the flower of the nation.
The word “therefore” (Ezekiel 24:6) introduces the explanation of why the flesh and bones are in the cooking pot (cf. Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 11:11). The LORD is to pronounce His “woe” on Jerusalem, the city He calls “blood city” with horror, because of the many murders committed in the city (cf. Ezekiel 22:2). Blood sticks to the city (cf. Revelation 18:24). The pot is Jerusalem. It is not just any pot, it is a pot with rust on it. Whatever the LORD has tried to remove the rust has been in vain.
Jerusalem is so attached to her harlotry and apostacy that any discipline is in vain. She will not listen. Therefore the flesh, that is the inhabitants of the city, will be removed from it piece by piece. There will be indiscriminate judgment. Judgment will strike all. A choice will not be made. No lot will be cast to set anyone free so that they would be spared.
Jerusalem has gone so far in her shameless and brutal violence that she has not bothered to cover the innocently shed blood (Ezekiel 24:7). The blood was not poured out on the earth to be absorbed by the earth so that it is no longer visible, but it lies like a testimony on a bare rock that does not absorb the blood. Nor is the blood covered with earth (Leviticus 17:13). Here the blood remains uncovered on the rock and testifies against them. It cries out for vengeance and retribution, just as the blood of Abel, murdered by Cain, cried out to God from the earth (Genesis 4:10; Job 16:18). Ultimately, God Himself caused the blood to remain openly as a charge (Ezekiel 24:8; cf. Isaiah 26:21). He can refer to it as an occasion for His wrath and to exercise vengeance.
The wrath of God on Jerusalem is great (Ezekiel 24:9). Again He pronounces “woe” on the city and again calls it “blood city”. He expresses His great wrath by making the pile great. He will make the fire of His judgment very hot and therefore calls for the gathering of much wood (Ezekiel 24:10). The flames are to blaze high so that the flesh is boiled all over and the bones be burned. Just as everything in the pot decomposes and burns by the fire that is set under it, so the entire population of Jerusalem will be annihilated by the glow of God’s wrath. The announcement of judgment here is even stronger than in Ezekiel 24:5.
When everything in the pot is consumed, the pot itself is dealt with (Ezekiel 24:11). When in Jerusalem all the inhabitants have been killed, the city itself will perish (2 Kings 25:9; Jeremiah 38:18; Jeremiah 52:13). With the destruction of the city, the rust, the uncleanness, will also disappear. Thus judgment has a purifying, cleansing effect. Only in this radical way can the rust disappear. All previous efforts by the LORD to remove the uncleanness have proved futile, so that nothing remains for Him but this discipline (Ezekiel 24:12).
Because Jerusalem has not wanted to be cleansed, she has come to her shameful behavior (Ezekiel 24:13). She has not wanted to repent of her idolatry despite many forms of discipline. Her unrepentance has caused God to bring His wrath upon her.
The greatest evil is not that we sin, although of course that is bad, but that we refuse to turn away from sin. The law states that a person must be put to death if he refuses to use the water for impurity for his cleansing in a particular case (Numbers 19:13; cf. Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34). For us, this speaks of refusing to confess a sin, with the result that God and fellow believers cannot have fellowship with us.
Because of Jerusalem’s unrepentance, an unmitigated judgment must strike her (Ezekiel 24:14). God owes it to His holiness. He is long in patience, but His patience ends once. His patience ends when He sees that someone, after many attempts to bring him to repentance, stubbornly refuses to repent. Those who do not repent will have to deal with a God Who will not repent of the judgment He must exercise. That judgment comes because it is deserved. It is according to the ways and deeds of the one being judged, here Jerusalem.
Death of Ezekiel’s Wife
The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel again (Ezekiel 24:15). The message he receives connects directly to the previous one. It is a shocking message (Ezekiel 24:16). The LORD tells him that He will suddenly take his wife away from him. He calls her “the desire of your eyes”, indicating how deeply Ezekiel loves her. The LORD also tells him to hold back his sorrow. Ezekiel is not to show any visible or audible signs of grief (cf. Jeremiah 16:5). He is to mourn in silence.
When he is alone, he may give in to his grief (Ezekiel 24:17). Further, he may not follow any mourning custom. Usually the mourner walks bareheaded and with dust or ashes on his head (Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; Isaiah 61:3). Going barefoot is also a sign of mourning (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2). Mourning includes covering the lower part of the face (Leviticus 13:45; 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 19:4; Jeremiah 14:3; Micah 3:7). Nor should he eat the bread brought to a mourner on such occasions (Jeremiah 16:7; Hosea 9:4).
Briefly, Ezekiel indicates how the word of the LORD will be fulfilled (Ezekiel 24:18). He does not sit idly by waiting for the terrible event to occur. In the morning he has another prophetic message for the people and speaks to them. Before the day is over, the prophesied sudden blow falls and his wife dies. He will have groaned in silence that night, sitting by his dead wife (cf. Genesis 23:2). The next morning, the obedient prophet does what the LORD has commanded him.
We see here again how a servant of God identifies with God’s people in times of need, even when he has to rebuke them. He faces the worst loss that anyone on earth can experience. He must suffer out of obedience to God and out of love for God’s people without saying a word. Although God does not require such extreme sacrifice from us, it is important that we live as willing and dedicated servants.
Meaning of the Death of Ezekiel’s Wife
The people will have heard of the disaster that struck Ezekiel. They know what is customary in such circumstances. However, Ezekiel does not act according to those customs. That raises questions among the people (Ezekiel 24:19). In fact, they understand that Ezekiel’s behavior – his failure to mourn openly – must have some significance for them. Of any sympathy for the great loss Ezekiel has suffered, they give no evidence. Could they be so preoccupied with themselves that they do not think of expressing sympathy (cf. Job 2:11)? We read only that they ask what it means “for us” (Ezekiel 37:18). In a serious speech, Ezekiel tells them what the LORD means by it (Ezekiel 24:20).
The message is that the LORD is going to profane His sanctuary (Ezekiel 24:21). It is that sanctuary of which they are so proud and to which they look with admiration. It is the most precious thing their soul possesses. Just as Ezekiel’s wife has been the desire of his eyes to him, so the temple is to them. Just as the wife, at whom Ezekiel looked with admiration, was taken from him by divine intervention, so the temple, which they admire so much, will be taken from them by divine judgment. The sons and daughters left behind in Jerusalem will also fall by judgment.
Just as Ezekiel did after the death of his wife, they will do when they have lost everything they have looked at with admiration (Ezekiel 24:22-Isaiah :). Nor will they be able to help and comfort one another, for the grief is the same for all. No one is excluded. They will languish in their iniquity because they have not been willing to break with it. Therefore, they also cannot seek comfort from the LORD and must be content with complaining of their distress to one another. They have no reason to complain loudly, because they have always known what will happen to Jerusalem, but they have not believed it. Their knowledge of Jerusalem’s fate has not led them to repentance.
The question of Ezekiel 24:19 is clearly answered: Ezekiel is a sign for them (Ezekiel 24:24). When the temple is destroyed, they will do as Ezekiel did. When that event occurs, they will know that God is the Lord GOD. They will then be forced into that recognition. They will not be able to do otherwise.
The Day of the Destruction of the Temple
The LORD now addresses the word to Ezekiel personally (Ezekiel 24:25). Ezekiel, on the day of the destruction of the temple, “the desire of their eyes”, and the death of their sons and daughters, will receive word from an eyewitness who will confirm what he has just presented to the people (Ezekiel 24:26). That eyewitness comes to him after the fall of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21-Song of Solomon :).
The message he receives and that encounter will become a turning point in his ministry. The people will be dumbfounded, but the prophet will again be able to speak openly and freely (Ezekiel 24:27; Ezekiel 3:22-Daniel :). The fall of Jerusalem will impressively justify the prophet. He will be a sign to his people both in his silence and in his speaking.
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 24". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
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