Ezekiel 12 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In the preceding chapters, the LORD's Word, through Ezekiel, has been very clear. The judgment pronounced, upon the rulers and residents of Jerusalem, was irrevocable, had already begun, and would soon be completed. The Temple and city would be utterly destroyed, and her people would be slain or scattered. Yet, the exiles, who had already been taken captive to Babylon, refused to believe this message. Instead, they were expecting to return home to Jerusalem, soon.
     The signs, parables, and prophecies, of ch.12-19, address this false optimism.
2. The futility of false optimism, ch.12-19
    A. Two Signs and Two Proverbs, 12:1-28
-- Two Signs with Application to Jerusalem (v.1-20)
1. Sign of Ezekiel's hurried Displacement (v.1-16)
1. The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house,
which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not:
for they [are] a rebellious house.
3 Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing,
and remove by day in their sight;
and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight:
it may be they will consider, though they [be] a rebellious house.
4 Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing:
and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.
5 Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.
6 In their sight shalt thou bear [it] upon [thy] shoulders,
[and] carry [it] forth in the twilight:
thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground:
for I have set thee [for] a sign unto the house of Israel.
7 And I did so as I was commanded:
I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity,
and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand;
I brought [it] forth in the twilight,
[and] I bare [it] upon [my] shoulder in their sight.
...a rebellious house... which have eyes to see, and see not... for they are a rebellious house.
The people of Israel were blind and deaf to God's Word, because they were rebellious {HB=meriy}. The root of this word {HB=marah} means 'bitter' or 'disobedient.' The natural (unregenerate) heart of every man is disobedient, because it is hostile toward God (Rom 8:5-8).
     Israel was privileged to have the Light of God's Word, but their self-centered hearts refused to heed it (Deu 5:29; 29:4). Because their condition was willful, the Lord judicially deepened their blindness, allowing them to go further into the darkness that they desired (Isa 6:9,10; 29:9-12; Mat 13:13,14; Rom 11:7,8). Although the judicial blindness of Israel is unique, the whole unbelieving world lies in the darkness of willful ignorance (Joh 3:19; 2Cor 4:3,4; Eph 4:18).
...therefore... prepare thee stuff for removing... it may be that they will consider...
The Lord instructed Ezekiel to act out a scenario, as he had done in ch. 4-5, to depict the departure of the residents of Jerusalem, into captivity. Perhaps this would get the attention of the exiles (already in Babylon), though they had refused to believe God's Word through the prophet.
...bring forth thy stuff {ie., baggage}... dig through the wall... carry it forth in the twilight... cover thy face that thou see not the ground...
These actions were consistent with being taken captive. The captives would be forced to move quickly, and to take only those possessions which they could carry. Above the stress of a forced move, there would be the sorrow of leaving the homeland. A covering to prevent sight of the ground might minimize the grief of watching the beloved land retreat beneath one's feet.
     Aspects of these actions could also depict an attempt to secretly escape without detection (eg., digging through a wall, by night, with one's head covered for disguise).
     But Ezekiel was already a captive living in exile. His actions would have seemed very strange to the other exiles among whom he lived.
8 And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
9 Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house,
said unto thee, What doest thou?
10 Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
This burden [concerneth] the prince in Jerusalem,
and all the house of Israel that [are] among them.
11 Say, I [am] your sign:
like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them:
they shall remove [and] go into captivity.
12 And the prince that [is] among them shall bear
upon [his] shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth:
they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby:
he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with [his] eyes.
13 My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare:
and I will bring him to Babylon [to] the land of the Chaldeans;
yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.
14 And I will scatter toward every wind
all that [are] about him to help him, and all his bands;
and I will draw out the sword after them.
15 And they shall know that I [am] the LORD,
when I shall scatter them among the nations,
and disperse them in the countries.
16 But I will leave a few men of them
from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence;
that they may declare all their abominations
among the heathen whither they come;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...what doest thou? -
Ezekiel's actions had attracted attention, and provided a hearing for God's Word.
...this burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.
Ezekiel's actions painted a prophetic picture of what was about to happen to the king and people in Jerusalem.
The 'prince' in Jerusalem was Zedekiah. These messages were apparently delivered in the sixth year of his reign (Eze 8:1).
...I am your sign {HB=mowpheth, token, omen}...
...so shall it be done unto them... they shall... go into captivity...
...my net will I spread over upon him...
...he shall be taken in my snare... I will scatter... all that are about him to help him...
Just five years after this prophecy, as the besieged city fell into the hands of the Babylonian forces, Zedekiah would disguise himself and attempt to flee by dark, through a passage between two walls. But his soldiers would be scattered from him, he would be captured. His eyes would be put out, so that he would never see the land of his captivity (2Kin 25:3-7; Jer 52:6-11).
     The rest of the city's population would either die by the effects of the siege, or by the sword of the invaders, or they would be taken captive, like their king.
...and they shall know that I am the LORD...-
This statement is uttered twice in quick succession (v.15,16), with reference to two distinct groups...
  • The many who would perish or go into captivity, under the judgment of God.
  • The few who would survive as scattered refugees, to declare the cause of their judgment wherever they ended up. cp. 6:8-10; Isa 1:9; Deu 29:24-28
    A. Two Signs and Two Proverbs, 12:1-28
-- Two Signs with Application to Jerusalem (v.1-20)
2. Sign of Ezekiel's worried Diet (v.17-20)
17. Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
18 Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking,
and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;
19 And say unto the people of the land,
Thus saith the Lord GOD
{concerning} the inhabitants of Jerusalem, [and] of the land of Israel;
They shall eat their bread with carefulness,
and drink their water with astonishment,
that her land may be desolate from all that is therein,
because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.
20 And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste,
and the land shall be desolate;
and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...eat thy bread with quaking... trembling... carefulness {ie., anxiety, fear, heaviness, sorrow}...
Again, Ezekiel's actions were a sign to demonstrate what was about to befall the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the land of Israel. The people would be overtaken with fear and uncertainty. Though bread and water is a meager diet, they would have no assurance of finding such a basic meal, whether within the city during the siege, or scattered as refugees in their war ravaged land.
...that her land may be desolate... because of the violence {ie., wrong, maliciousness} of all them that dwell therein.
The phrase 'all that is therein' (in v.19) is elsewhere translated 'the fulness thereof' (eg., Psa 24:1). The bountiful land which the Lord had given to His people, would be turned into a wasteland (Psa 107:33,34; Jer 4:23-29; Mic 3:10-12).
...and ye shall know that I am the LORD. -
(How much better to know Him, in another way. Psa 107:8,9)
    A. Two Signs and Two Proverbs, 12:1-28
-- Two Proverbs with No Application (v.21-28)
   (God's prophetic Word has not failed, and is not delayed.)
21. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
22 Son of man, what [is] that proverb [that] ye have in the land of Israel,
saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?
23 Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will make this proverb to cease
{HB=shabat, ie., put it to rest},
and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel;
but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.
24 For there shall be no more any vain vision
nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.
25 For I [am] the LORD:
I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass;
it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house,
will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.
...that proverb... The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth.
Over the years, the LORD had sent multiple prophets to warn of coming judgment (eg., Jer 35:15).
But the unbelieving nation mocked the warnings, as meaningless words... or, if there was some meaning, it was for some distant future time (cp. v.27; 11:3; Isa 5:19).
...say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect {HB=dabar, word, matter} of every vision.
The judgment which God had foretold, He would no longer graciously withhold.
What He had continually spoken, He was about to do.
     His action would silence the false prophets, whose smooth and deceptive words were the ruin of their followers (v.24; eg., Jer 14:13-16). [The next chapter, Ezekiel ch.13, takes a hard look at the false prophets.]
...for I am the LORD... the word {HB=dabar} that I speak shall come to pass... - cp. 2Pet 3:3-10
26 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
27 Son of man, behold, [they of] the house of Israel say,
The vision that he seeth [is] for many days [to come],
and he prophesieth of the times [that are] far off.
28 Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
There shall none of my words be prolonged any more,
but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.
The nation disregarded the words of God's true prophets, as not applicable to their day.
They thought that, if there was any truth to the message of pending judgment, it was for a far future time. v.27; cp. 1The 5:2,3

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