“In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.” — Ezekiel 24:13
My daughter’s goldfish, Ozzy, lives in a tank next to the kitchen sink where his normal behavior is to begin each day by coming to the top of the water and swimming around in circles. A few weeks ago, I looked at the small aquarium and saw that some scum was developing and the water was a bit murky. It was time for tank cleaning! Carefully scooping Ozzy into a bowl, I thoroughly washed the tank and its accessories with soap. To make sure they were completely purged of all impurities, I used scalding hot water and threw in some bleach for good measure. When the job was complete, I returned Ozzy to a sparkling clean tank.
Regrettably, I must not have rinsed away all the bleach, because within a day, we started noticing that Ozzy wasn’t himself. Instead of swimming around at the top of the tank, he stayed near the bottom and hardly moved. Though I rewashed the tank, it appeared to be too late. A few days later, I sadly told my daughter that it looked like Ozzy was dying.
In today’s text, we read of a purging that would be far more significant than the cleaning of a goldfish bowl. This purging would be devastating! The Lord announced through Ezekiel that because of Judah’s “filthiness,” judgment was coming to Jerusalem. God had wanted to purge the hearts of His people, but they had refused Him. So God declared that He would purify the city through complete destruction.
We can learn a lesson from this account. Someday, God will purge the earth of all sin and evil, and this judgment will come as a great destruction to all its inhabitants. But there is hope! We do not have to be affected by the destruction. We are living in a time when God is offering redemption that will save a repentant sinner from the judgment to come. We can live with the assurance that we will not be left to the destruction of the final judgement.
For Ozzy, there was a happy ending. My children were ecstatic the next day when he was swimming around again, back to normal. Our lives can also have a happy ending. We can avoid the destructive purging that will take place when God destroys the evil in this world. We can be with the Lord, eternally safe in Heaven. Let us not make the mistake that the people in Jerusalem made, but be ready to escape the destruction.
Chapter 24 records Ezekiel’s final prophecy before Jerusalem’s fall. This message was given two years and five months after the message of chapters 20-23.
According to verses 1-2, on the very day that Nebuchadnezzar began his siege against Jerusalem, God revealed the event to Ezekiel, who was over six hundred miles away in Babylon. Ezekiel was commanded to record the date so that when the news reached the exiles, the prophet’s accuracy would be proven. Ezekiel’s portrayal of the siege was spoken as a parable (verses 3-5), and the parable’s explanation was given in the form of a poem (verses 6-13). In the parable, the pot with the pieces of meat and bones represented Jerusalem and its inhabitants. The fire represented the imminent judgment and the destruction of Jerusalem.
In the delivery of the parable, the repetition of the instruction to “set on” the pot denoted the commencing of God’s irrevocable judgment. The visual image of a large caldron echoed the words of Zedekiah’s wicked counselors in Jerusalem, who falsely pictured themselves as select meat within the safety of a caldron (see Ezekiel 11:3). Every cut of the meat, both the choice and the common, was to be put into the caldron along with the bones. Then it was to be cooked in the pot until it burned away; though the people thought they were safe in the “pot,” it would actually be the place of their destruction.
The parable’s explanation was twofold. The first explanation (verses 6-8) spoke of judgment against the inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Scum,” literally meaning rust, symbolized the corrosion and corruption of the city. “Bring it out piece by piece” indicated that all of Jerusalem’s population would be either killed or removed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. This punishment would be universal and indiscriminate, rather than by a “lot” — a system of random selection. The violent murders committed there had not been repented of, so Ezekiel pictured this as shed blood that had been left uncovered, and thus cried out for vengeance and retribution.
The second explanation (verses 9-13) spoke of judgment against the city of Jerusalem, which, as God’s holy city, needed to be purged of wickedness. Through the prophet, God declared that He himself would make Jerusalem as a great pyre, or a burning pile for cremating the dead. “Consume” in verse 10 meant to cook the meat and bones until they were completely burned up. Then the brass caldron itself was to be melted down and poured out, signifying that all of Jerusalem’s impurities would be consumed in the judgment coming upon her.
The description of this judgment concludes with a restatement of its certainty in verse 14. The Lord had surrendered Jerusalem and its inhabitants to their earned judgment, which would be meted out by the Chaldeans.
II. The condemnation of Judah and Jerusalem
D. The revelation of God’s dealings with Israel
3. The summary of God’s present dealings
c. The parables of Israel’s judgment
(2) The parable of the caldron (24:1-14)
(a) The setting (24:1-2)
(b) The parable (24:3-5)
(c) The interpretation (24:6-14)
Let us take care to ensure that our lives stay clean before God, that we may enjoy His blessings and avoid the purging judgment to come upon this world.