Ezekiel 22 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In the message to the elders (ch. 20-21), the LORD reviewed the history of Israel's unfaithfulness, from the nation's beginning, to the final days of its last king. Because of the nation's iniquity, the fires of judgment would sweep the land of its people and their king.
     In the chapter before us (ch. 22), the LORD reviews, in greater detail, the sinful condition of the nation in Ezekiel's day, and explains, again, the purpose and extent of His hot wrath upon them.
     - The Smelting Furnace of Judgment -
a. The Cause: Catalog of sins, v.1-12
     This is a representative (not exhaustive) list of Israel's sins.
     The Scripture references provide additional background and explanation.
1. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city?
yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.
3 Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD,
The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come,
(2Kin 21:16; 24:3,4)
and maketh idols against herself to defile herself.
(Eze 16:17-19)
4 Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed;
(Eze 16:20,21)
and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made;
and thou hast caused thy days to draw near,
and art come [even] unto thy years:
(Eze 7:6-8)
therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen,
and a mocking to all countries.
(Eze 5:14,15)
5 [Those that be] near, and [those that be] far from thee,
shall mock thee,
(Psa 44:13,14)
[which art] infamous [and] much vexed
{ie., troubled}. (Jer 15:2,3)
6 Behold, the princes of Israel,
every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.
(v.27; Mic 3:9-11)
7 In thee have they set light by
{ie., cursed} father and mother: (Lev 20:9; Deu 27:16)
in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression
{ie., deceit, extortion} with the stranger:
in thee have they vexed
{ie., destroyed, done violence to} the fatherless and the widow. (Mal 3:5)
8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.
(v.26; Amos 8:4-6)
9 In thee are men that carry tales
{ie., slander} to shed blood: (Ex 20:16; Lev 19:16)
and in thee they eat upon the mountains:
(Eze 6:13; 18:6; Psa 106:28)
in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.
(The word for 'lewdness' is translated 'wickedness' in Lev 18:17, and as 'lewd' in v.27 of Eze 16:25-28.)
10 In thee have they discovered their fathers' nakedness: (Lev 18:7,8; 20:11; cp. 1Cor 5:1)
in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.
{ie., her that was unclean due to menstration, Eze 18:6; Lev 18:19; 20:18}
11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife;
and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law;
and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.
(Lev 18:9,15,20; 20:10,12,17)
12 In thee have they taken gifts
{ie., bribes} to shed blood; (Deu 16:19)
thou hast taken usury and increase,
(Lev 25:35,36; Eze 18:13)
and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion,
and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.
...wilt thou judge {HB=shaphat, judge, punish, reason, plead}... the bloody city?
...thou shalt shew her all her abominations.
Ezekiel's role was not to execute punishment, but rather to present the reasons for which the LORD had pronounced judgment upon Jerusalem. In the previous message, these reasons were traced through Israel's long history, beginning with the abominations of their forefathers (Eze 20:4). Here, the prophet points to the prominent sins, which were present in his day. The list is largely self-explanatory. See the references shown with the Bible text, above.
...and thou hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.
As Jeremiah explained, in Jer 3:20,21, their way of life was 'perverted' {ie., given over to do iniquity}, because they had forgotten the LORD. Yet, it was not that they could not remember, but rather that they had willfully put Him out of their minds, to pursue their own perverted way. Eze 23:35; Deu 32:18; Jer 2:32
b. The consumption of dross, v.13-22
13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand {Eze 21:17}
at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made,
and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.
14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong,
in the days that I shall deal with thee?
I the LORD have spoken [it], and will do [it].
15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen,
and disperse thee in the countries,
and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.
16 And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen,
and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD.
Although the nation had willfully forgotten Him, He had not forgotten them.
He would do what was necessary to "consume thy filthiness out of thee."
They would receive that which they deserved {their 'inheritance'}, in their dispersion among the heathen nations. Eze 5:12,13
After He took that severe action, of which He had warned them, they would remember Him. eg., Psa 9:16
17. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross:
all they [are] brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace;
they are [even] the dross of silver.
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because ye are all become dross,
behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
20 [As] they gather silver, and brass, and iron,
and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace,
to blow the fire upon it, to melt [it];
so will I gather [you] in mine anger and in my fury,
and I will leave [you there], and melt you.
21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath,
and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace,
so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof;
and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.
...the house of Israel is to me become... the dross of silver...
Like a smelter of fine silver, the LORD was looking for a pure people. Brass, iron, lead and tin are valuable in the world's economy (as are business skills, technical knowledge, financial ability, etc.). Yet, the Lord sought something of higher value: pure hearts, devoted to Him, in everything they thought, said and did. But the people of Israel had corrupted themselves with worldly ways, which were 'dross' {waste, refuse} in His eyes. Their contamination was so severe that there was no pure silver to be separated from the dross.
...because ye are all become dross... I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem...
...ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
Jerusalem would become the refining pot. The Smelter's furnace would be heated with the ferocious heat of His anger. Both the refining pot and the dross would be consumed (Deu 4:24; Psa 21:9; Jer 21:10).
     During the future Tribulation period, a similar refining process will produce a pure people of greater value than silver (Zech 13:8,9; Mal 3:3).
     But in the near term, the smelting would not produce pure silver (Jer 6:28-30).
...ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.
cp. v.16; Eze 5:12,13
c. The Consumed: Categories of sinners, v.23-31
23. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
24 Son of man, say unto her,
Thou [art] the land that is not cleansed,
nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
25 [There is] a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof,
like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls;
they have taken the treasure and precious things;
they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things:
they have put no difference between the holy and profane,
neither have they shewed [difference] between the unclean and the clean,
and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
27 Her princes in the midst thereof [are] like wolves ravening the prey,
to shed blood, [and] to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered [morter],
seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them,
saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery,
and have vexed the poor and needy:
yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge,
and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it:
but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them;
I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath:
their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.
...thou art the land... not cleansed {ie., not purified}...
...nor rained upon in the day of indignation {ie., anger, rage}.
Because the heat of God's anger had not purified the nation, there would be no refreshing or relief from His rage. Jer 5:3; 6:29
The wickedness of the nation permeated every level of society.
  • ...her prophets (v.25) - were self-proclaimed spokesmen for the LORD.
    But in reality, they were in league with one another, to declare falsehood, to the detriment of the nation.
       While the true prophets proclaimed the peril of God's judgment upon sin, the popular false prophets declared 'peace.' With their words, they had built a wall of false security. But the violence of war would consume many men, and cause the widowhood of many women (Eze 13:10-16).
       They sought their own enrichment, rather than the welfare of the people (eg., Eze 13:19; Jer 6:13; cp. 2Pet 2:1-3).
  • ...her priests (v.26) - were entrusted with teaching the moral and religious Law,
    by which the LORD's people were to maintain separation from the ungodly world (Lev 20:7).
       But the priests had compromised the moral Law, through judging with respect of persons, and through conformity with worldly wisdom. They had perverted the religious Law by the assimilation of idolatrous worship alongside the worship of the LORD, even within His Temple. Rather than serving in "holiness unto the LORD," their ministry polluted the Name of the One they said they served. v.8; Jer 2:8; 23:11; Eze 8:5-6,10-12
  • ...her princes (v.27,28) - were called to rule God's people with righteousness and true justice.
    But they abused their power to advance themselves, even by condemning righteous men to death. v.6; Isa 1:23; Mic 3:9-11
       The false prophets 'daubed' {ie., plastered over} the crimes of the princes, with pious sounding words which were purportedly from the LORD. Yet, they spoke from their own hearts, in collusion with the princes, to have a share in their dishonest gain. Eze 13:6,22
  • ...the people (v.29) - were just like their leaders. Jer 5:26-31
    They oppressed strangers {ie., Gentiles living among them} as well as disadvantaged Israelites, with deceitful extortion, to satisfy their covetousness for that which was not rightfully theirs. v.7
...I sought for a man... that should make up the hedge... stand in the gap before me for the land...
...but I found none.
The wall of separation between God's people and the world had become broken down. Was there no leader who would arise to mend the wall, and to personally stand in the breach {as a defender of righteousness} until it was repaired? Moses had been such a leader, in pleading for his sinful nation (Psa 106:23). Samuel had stood as a righteous judge, to turn his people back to the LORD, in a day when the priesthood had become polluted (1Sam 7:3,4).
     As the day of judgment for Jerusalem drew near, the LORD had sought, but could not find, such a leader to correct and redirect the wayward nation (Jer 5:1). The false prophets and priests had not risen to the task (Eze 13:5).
     What about Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other true prophets? Were they not such men? They might have been, had the people and their leaders heeded their message. But they refused to listen. Jer 6:17; 25:4; 44:16; Eze 3:18,19
     The nation had rejected God's Word. They would suffer the consequences (of which, they had been warned by a few righteous men). Jer 15:1; Eze 14:14,20
...therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them...
...their own way have I recompensed upon their heads... (v.31); cp. v.21,22; Eze 7:8,9
We also will be held accountable for how we receive the Word of God.
How is your hearing? Heb 2:1-4
...I found no man... therefore... I... -
Similar wording is found in the following passages. Note what He did.
Isa 59:16-21 - there was no intercessor {ie., one who stands between}...
  • therefore His arm brought salvation... (v.16)
  • ...as the Righteous Judge, who recompenses sin (v.17-19).
  • ...as the Redeemer, who redeems His people (v.20-21).
Isa 63:5-8 - there was none to help {ie., protect}... none to uphold {ie., establish}...
  • therefore my own arm brought salvation... (v.5)
  • ...through harsh judgment of sin (v.6).
  • ...through gracious redemption of His own (v.7-8).
These two passages, in context, apply to the LORD's intervention in behalf of Israel. But the same Redeemer, who will return from the heavenly Zion in behalf of Israel, has already come to redeem all who recognize and receive Him.
     Because "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom 3:10), we are all in desperate need of the "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus" (1Tim 2:5), who, as the eternal Word of God, interposed Himself as the intercessor and Savior of those who turn from sin to Him (Joh 1:1-4; Heb 7:25).

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