Series on Ezekiel, I The Fall of Jerusalem, F Fallen City, Text: 12: 1-28, Title: Judgment and God’s Covenant


Here in Ezekiel we see the story repeated over and over. Israel sinned and God punished them severely, almost to destruction. As we know from the rest of Scripture history it wasn’t over. But, in Ezekiel’s day they refused to believe that they deserved this. They were not getting the message. In this chapter we see the continuing judgment on Jerusalem until the last captive is taken away. God’s covenant threatenings are being fulfilled here, but only that His covenant mercies may be poured out through Jesus the Messiah. They should have known because Moses told them, long before, the price of disobedience and idolatry in Deuteronomy 28: 36 and 37, The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you. And when the messenger of the covenant, Jesus, came they still were not getting it.

I The Captivity Ended

As the continuing sin of Israel and the continuing judgment of God is visited upon them in Jerusalem Ezekiel is told to act our a drama of fleeing from the city of destruction in verses 3-6, Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel. He goes through a wall blindfolded because the puppet king Zedekiah will be blinded as he is carried off to Babylon to die as we read in verses 12-14, The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. I will scatter to the winds all those around him-his staff and all his troops-and I will pursue them with drawn sword. Everyone is eliminated from the lowest to the highest. Let’s look at the big picture, God’s people thought everything was all right and they were carried off by the Babylonians. The people in Jerusalem thought everything was all right and the city and temple were destroyed. The people returning under Ezra and Nehemiah thought everything was all right, but as the centuries passed other nations oppressed them and finally in New Testament times they are subject to the Romans. As the misery continued they began to fix their hopes more on a deliverer, but many false Messiahs and failed deliverers came and went. All the promises of national and political supremacy were unfulfilled because God’s real purpose was to exalt Israel as a spiritual blessing to the nations. Finally when the true deliverer, Jesus, came they rejected Him because he didn’t bring the kind of deliverance they were looking for. Jesus would defeat their true enemies, sin and death, and not by military might, but by His gospel. In the big picture this was always God’s purpose. In Matthew 2: 13-15 we read about Jesus, When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” The prophet is Hosea and he was talking about Israel in Hosea 11:1, so there is an intentional parallel between the history of Israel and that of Jesus. This is so because Jesus is the true Israel. In Him is fulfilled the true mission of the son. Thus, the captivity is over only when Messiah comes and does what Israel did not do. He obeys, and through His death and resurrection the witness of the true God is given to the world.

II The Confession Elicited

This witness is the subject of verses 15 and 16, They will know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the LORD. The remnant that is preserved and scattered is has the specific task of confessing their sin before the nations and exalting the justice of God, so that the world could acknowledge and know Yahweh. But when the true king, Jesus, came they were still focused on themselves and pretending that God’s kingship was just for them. This is why they crucified the Lord of glory. certain Israelites like Zachariah the Father of John, the Baptist, and Simeon in the temple when Jesus was presented  recognized the truth and their words are recorded in Luke 1: 76-79 and 2: 30-32,  And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins...the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death...For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. These men reveal that they saw the ultimate purpose which was Yahweh for the nations. The way in which the identity of the true God is revealed to the nations is through Jesus, the true Israel. God made them captives so they could see that the true captivity was spiritual and he scattered them so that they could see that their hope was for all people. However, by the time of Jesus they were focused more than  ever on their national identity and pride.

III The Certainty Awaited

The last part of the chapter 17-28 focuses on the certainty of fulfillment soon. In verses 21-28 the folly of a proverb in circulation is revealed, The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’?  Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. But I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’  “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign LORD’” The proverb of the people sounds like those Peter refers to in II Peter 3: 3 and 4, First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Here God gives them another proverb which sounds remarkable similar in the original Hebrew, but has the exact opposite meaning; the time is near, or at hand. When Jesus came he had to painstakingly explain to His disciples that the prophecies of the Old Testament were being fulfilled in Him because Israel did not know. We read in Luke 24:25-27, He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. His birth, miracles, rejection, death and resurrection are all there in the Old Testament and are mentioned by the New Testament evangelists. Israel did not know He was coming and when  He did they did not recognize Him. Today the world is filled with people who think we will go on forever. But Jesus is coming again. When John the Baptist speaks of Jesus who will follow him in ministry, he says that the messiah will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire, and that he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:11 and 12). Let us not be like Israel or like those in Peter’s day who said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” The covenant will be fulfilled.