Ezekiel 5 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
At the beginning of ch.4, Ezekiel was told to make a model of Jerusalem upon a 'tile' and to set siege against it. Around this model, Ezekiel acted out four aspects of the siege of Jerusalem: (1) The unavoidable certainty of the siege, as determined by God. (2) The duration of the siege, linked to the history of rebellion. (3) The scarcity during the siege.
     Chapter 5 brings us to the fourth aspect... the destruction of the people.
1. And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor,
and cause [it] to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard:
then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the [hair].
2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city,
when the days of the siege are fulfilled:
and thou shalt take a third part, [and] smite about it with a knife:
and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind;
and I will draw out a sword after them.
3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.
4 Then take of them again,
and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire;
[for] thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.
The sign of Ezekiel's Shaving -
...take thee a barber's razor...
The LORD had used this figure of speech to describe the judgment of the northern kingdom of Israel, about a hundred years earlier (see Isa 7:20). A similar judgment was about to overtake Jerusalem, though at the hands of a different "hired razor" (the Babylonians rather than the Assyrians).
...cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard...
As a priest, Ezekiel was not to shave his head or beard, even to express mourning for a family member (Lev 21:5). Obedience, to the command to cut off his hair, would be emotionally costly, for it was contrary to who he was and what he would have chosen. In a much deeper way, the 'cutting off' of His people would grieve the LORD, and was contrary to what He desired for them (cp. Jer 10:18,19; Hos 11:8; Mat 23:37). If the Lord counts the hairs on our heads, how much more must he value each of His people (Mat 10:29-31).
...then take thee balances to weigh, and divide...
The 'balances' symbolize the truthfulness and precision of God's judgment (eg., Dan 5:27).
In v.12, the LORD explains that the hair, divided into three groups, illustrated the fate that would befall three categories of those overtaken by the judgment: (1) those who perished due to famine and disease, during the siege of Jerusalem, (2) those slain as they sought to escape, (3) those pursued by their enemies, even as they were scattered among the nations as refugees.
...thou shalt also take thereof a few... and bind them in thy skirts... thereof a fire shall come forth into all the house of Israel.
These symbolized the few Jews who Nebuchadnezzar would allow to remain in the land, under his appointed governor, Gedaliah. Rebellion would arise among the few who remained. The governor would be slain. The fearful things which had overtaken the nation, would follow this unbelieving remnant as they fled to Egypt, contrary to God's instructions through Jeremiah (2Kin 25:12,22-26; Jeremiah ch. 40-44).
     Note that, up to this time, Ezekiel's actions had not yet been explained to the people. Now, in the remainder of this chapter, the LORD opens the prophet's mouth.
5. Thus saith the Lord GOD; This [is] Jerusalem:
I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries [that are] round about her.
6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations,
and my statutes more than the countries that [are] round about her:
for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
This is Jerusalem... - cp. Eze 4:1
The LORD now explains the significance of the symbolic actions of his prophet around his model of the city.
...I have set it in the midst of the nations...
The LORD had established Israel to bear witness, before the world, concerning His glory (Deu 4:5-8).
...and she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations...
cp. Deu 32:15-21 ('Jeshurun,' meaning 'upright one,' is a symbolic name for Israel describing God's intent for her); 2Kin 17:7-20; Jer 11:10
(Israel's past failure also forewarns of present apostasy in the church. Rom 1:21-25; Jude 1:4)
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because ye multiplied more than the nations that [are] round about you,
[and] have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments,
neither have done according to the judgments
of the nations that [are] round about you;
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I, even I, [am] against thee,
and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.
9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done,
and whereunto I will not do any more the like,
because of all thine abominations.
Although Israel had received the knowledge of the true and living God, they had refused His Word, and multiplied their transgressions against Him more than the heathen nations. Eze 16:47,48
Therefore... I will do in thee that which I have not done... in the sight of the nations... because of all thine abominations.
To whom much is given, much shall be required. Their punishment would be in proportion to the Light which they had refused. In their punishment, the LORD would demonstrate His righteousness, before the nations. Lam 4:6,9; Dan 9:9-12; Amos 3:2; cp. Mat 24:21.
(Such severe judgment is also in store for the apostate church. Luk 12:42-48)
     Yet, the LORD is not a God of wrath. The exercise of severe judgment is His "strange work." It is not His desire that any should perish, but rather that all would come to repentance. Therefore, He freely extends His grace to save the repentant sinner... and mercifully waits, for whosoever will turn to Him. But He cannot wait forever. Before the Holy God, sin must be purged away. Isa 28:21; Eze 33:11; 2Pet 3:9,10; Joh 3:16-18
10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee,
and the sons shall eat their fathers;
{Deu 28:53-57; Jer 19:9}
and I will execute judgments in thee,
and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.
{Deu 28:64; Jer 9:16; Amos 9:9; cp. Luk 21:24}
11 Wherefore, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD;
Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things,
and with all thine abominations,
{Deu 7:25,26; Jer 7:9-11; 2Chr 36:14}
therefore will I also diminish [thee];
{cp. Rom 11:12}
neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.
12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence,
and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee:
and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee;
and I will scatter a third part into all the winds,
and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished,
and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted:
{Isa 1:24}
and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken [it] in my zeal,
when I have accomplished my fury in them.
That which the LORD speaks, He also accomplishes.
Though He had repeatedly warned Israel that He must judge sin, they refused to hear and repent. Therefore, He was forced to do the terrible things which He had said He would do, in causing the desolation of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people far from their land. 2Chr 36:14-20
14 Moreover I will make thee waste,
and a reproach among the nations that [are] round about thee,
in the sight of all that pass by.
15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction
and an astonishment unto the nations that [are] round about thee,
when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes.
I the LORD have spoken [it].
16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine,
which shall be for [their] destruction,
[and] which I will send to destroy you:
and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread:
17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee;
and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee;
and I will bring the sword upon thee.
I the LORD have spoken [it].
The Word of the LORD is final.
The judgment of Jerusalem was determined by His unbreakable decree, which was consistent with what He had continually spoken to the nation, from the time of Moses. Lev 26:31-33; Deu 28:37; 2Chr 7:20-22
...so it shall be a reproach... taunt... instruction... astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee.
The LORD was about to punish Jerusalem, in the sight of all the gentile nations.
The destroyed city and its dispersed people would become...
...I the LORD have spoken it... -
This phrase occurs 13 times in Ezekiel (3x in this chapter, v.13,15,17).
It is the LORD's solemn declaration, that what He has said, He will do. Whether His spoken word declares desolation (eg., Eze 22:14), or promises redemption and restoration (eg., 37:14), the completion of His purpose is absolutely certain (regardless of whether people will hear or forbear, Eze 3:10,11).

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