“And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.” — Ezekiel 11:12
“Don’t do this — you’re too little,” my brother warned me just before he jumped from the bed of our dad’s pickup truck onto the gravel driveway below. I do not remember exactly how old we were at the time, but I must have been about four or five, and he is just nineteen months older than I am. What I do remember quite clearly is the defiance that sprang up in my young heart. How dare he tell me that I was too little to do something he was doing! He wasn’t that much bigger than me! And so I jumped.
Sadly, my brother was right: I was too little to make that leap. Down I went, landing on my face rather than my feet, and knocking out one of my two front teeth long before it was ready to come loose on its own. My defiance of my brother’s warning brought me a lot of blood and tears that day and an extra-long season of toothless photos in following months! Thankfully, it was only a “baby tooth” and there was the expectation that eventually a permanent tooth would fill the gap.
The situation in today’s text was, of course, much more serious than an impulsive childhood action. The people of Israel and then Judah had been warned repeatedly that they were to follow God’s statutes rather than behave in the manner of the heathen nations surrounding them. Then they were warned repeatedly that if they did not repent of their wickedness, judgment was coming. Stubbornly, they had refused to listen, and God declared through Ezekiel in our focus verse that they would know He was the Lord — they would face the consequences of their defiance. And yet, along with the message of wrath, God also gave Ezekiel a message of comfort and of physical and spiritual restoration for His people.
God offers the same to us today. It is in our best interest to heed the warnings that God gives us through His Word, His ministers, and concerned brothers and sisters in the Gospel. However, if we have refused to listen and are facing consequences for our defiance, God still offers restoration, if we will repent and turn to Him.
In this chapter, Ezekiel’s vision of Jerusalem’s coming judgment ended, and the prophet was instructed to relay two messages. The first was a pronouncement of wrath and judgment against those who were insisting that Jerusalem was safe, despite prophecies to the contrary (verses 5-12). The second gave hope for the future of Israel, even as the glory of God left the Temple (verses 14-21).
Ezekiel was transported in the spirit to an area in the outer court of the Temple, where he saw a group of twenty-five men near the eastern entrance. Two of these men were specifically named: Jaazaniah, son of Azur (not the Jaazaniah of chapter 8, who was the son of Shaphan), and Pelatiah. These twenty-five men were “princes of the people” who had been giving evil counsel to the leaders. They may have been those who advised Zedekiah to disregard Jeremiah’s warnings. They were defiantly confident that they would be safe in Jerusalem despite what prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had told them.
In verses 4-5, God told Ezekiel to prophesy against these lying advisors. The imagery of the large cooking cauldron in verse 7 related to the people’s assumption that the walls of Jerusalem would protect them. Ezekiel turned their claim of confidence into a prediction of doom. They would not be protected by the caldron; rather, they would be consumed there by God’s judgment. Though not everyone would perish in Jerusalem, those who remained would be taken from the city for execution or scattered into exile. God’s judgment would extend beyond Jerusalem to the borders of Israel.
In Ezekiel’s vision, he saw Pelatiah die, no doubt under the promised judgments of God. Pelatiah may have been the leader of those who scorned the prophecies of coming judgment. His death was a foretaste of what awaited the rest of those Ezekiel had warned. Ezekiel was stunned by God’s judgment, and he cried out to the Lord, asking if any would remain.
God comforted Ezekiel and instructed him to relay another message to the Babylonian captives (verses 14-21). The Babylonian conquest would not be the end of Israel, as it had been for several other nations and peoples. The prevailing belief was that the exiles had been rejected by God and that the land now belonged to those remaining in Judah. However, God promised to sustain and shelter the exiles. “Little sanctuary” in verse 16 implied safety for “a little while.” God was promising that during their absence from their land and earthly Temple, He would be their Sanctuary. God’s commitment to regather the people and restore the land was a restatement of a promise previously made (see Deuteronomy 30:3). In verse 18, God personalized this promise of restoration to the Babylonian exiles, and promised that when they did return, they would no longer pursue idolatry.
Verses 19-20 go beyond the restoration of the exiles as a nation to a spiritual restoration of the hearts of the people, but this is yet to come. The “stony heart” of verse 19 refers to a heart that is unnaturally hardened, and a “heart of flesh” means one that has been reawakened.
Ezekiel saw the glory of God leave the city and depart to the Mount of Olives. Then the vision left and Ezekiel was back in Chaldea with the elders of Judah, where he related what he had seen in the vision and all God’s prophecies concerning Jerusalem.
II. The condemnation of Judah and Jerusalem
B. The transgression and fall of Jerusalem
4. The vision of the destruction and restoration of the city (11:1-25)
a. The condemnation of the leaders (11:1-12)
(1) Ezekiel’s departure to the leaders (11:1)
(2) Ezekiel’s instruction to prophesy (11:2-4)
(3) Ezekiel’s warning of judgment (11:5-12)
b. The consternation of the prophet (11:13)
c. The restoration of the nation (11:14-21)
d. The departure of God’s glory (11:22-23)
e. The transportation of the prophet (11:24-25)
We want to heed God’s warnings, and if we have not already done so, experience the restoration He offers!