“Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” — Ezekiel 7:3-4
“The end” is a concept that can bring joy, excitement . . . and possibly relief! For example, completing a lengthy or difficult project brings a rush of satisfaction and accomplishment. A waiting family rejoices when they get the welcome announcement, “The operation is over, and everything went well!” After completing mountains of paperwork and dealing with miles of red tape, adoptive parents mark the end of waiting and joyfully head to the airport to meet their new son or daughter. And consider the end of a war. What nationwide jubilation results when the announcement is made, “The war has ended!”
In all of these cases, the end is positive and good. However, in our focus verses, the end that was coming upon Israel was just the opposite. Ezekiel prophesied of a dreadful and devastating time when God’s judgment would be poured out upon the people for their abominations. The phrase “now is the end come upon thee” gives a sense of the urgency of this message. Israel would have no further chance to escape the consequences of their disobedience. Their disintegration as a nation was inevitable, and it would be a fearful and frightening time. Through the prophet, God pronounced that He would give them according to what they deserved so that they would “know that I am the Lord.” While a remnant would be spared — individuals like Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah who chose to stay true to the living God — the coming desolation would spread to the four corners of the land.
We see a similar situation in our world today. All around us are signs that the end is very near, and God has given ample warnings in His Word. Tragically, as in Ezekiel’s day, many people are unprepared. They continue on in their sins, going about their lives as though circumstances will never change.
However, while destruction is imminent for this world, there is still hope on a personal level. God in His mercy is yet extending grace and giving souls an opportunity to return to Him. The door is still open! A better ending — an eternally blessed ending — is possible for those who will turn to God even now in repentance and faith.
This chapter is another of Ezekiel’s prophetic discourses, this one similar to the message given in chapter 6. Verses 1-4 describe God’s wrath, verses 5-13 disclose the imminence and inescapability of the coming judgment, and verses 14-27 describe the shame and horror that would come to the people and the fact that no source of help would be found.
The term “four corners of the land” in verse 2 indicates this was a message of doom to all of Israel. This included Jerusalem though it had not yet been destroyed; Judah, which had not yet been completely conquered; and the Northern Kingdom already taken captive.
In verse 3, “the end” alludes to both the end of God’s patience and the imminent end of the nation. The judgment of God was based upon Israel’s sinful choices, the evil the people had practiced, and the unrighteousness they had committed against God’s name. The statement “thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee” meant the people would constantly be reminded of their iniquities. The refrain of verses 3-4 is repeated in verses 8-9.
“Watcheth” in verse 6 means “has awakened or dawned” and portrays something that has been fully stirred to action. In verse 7, the Hebrew word translated morning literally means “circle,” and was sometimes translated as fate. The Israelites had come full circle to face the consequences of their rebellion against God. He would no longer look upon them with mercy or pity, indicated by the statement “mine eye shall not spare” in verses 4 and 9.
In verses 10-21, Ezekiel used word pictures five times to impart God’s message. The first two of those show that because of the people’s persistent presumption on God’s grace, retribution was unavoidable. Some commentators suggest verses 10-11 refer to Nebuchadnezzar as the blossomed rod that would execute God’s judgment against Israel’s sinful pride; rather than the rod itself being deemed wicked, the rod’s “violence” would punish the wickedness of the people.
Verses 12-13 allude to the Year of Jubilee that was held every fiftieth year. By God’s instruction, at that time property was returned to the original owner. When the Babylonians approached, however, both buyers and sellers would have reason to mourn. The buyer would not rejoice in the property purchased because it would be of no use to him. The seller would mourn that he could not reclaim his property, because the Year of Jubilee would be cancelled. All buying and selling would lose their significance in the face of the total disaster to come.
The last three word pictures show that neither the people’s strength nor their riches would save them, and that shame and horror would be upon all. Verses 14-15 allude to the futility of the cities’ watchmen, since there would be no Israelite army available to respond. People outside the cities would die in battle; those inside would perish from famine and pestilence. Verses 16-18 indicate the coming distress of the few who would escape. Hiding in the mountains, as subdued as doves and with knees weak from fear, they would take on the attire and behaviors of deep mourning. Even the wealth of the rich would provide no security and would be discarded as garbage.
“His ornament” in verse 20 refers to the Temple, a place God had ordained for exaltation but that was being used for idolatrous worship. Since the Israelites had defiled the Temple, God would “set it far” from them. He would let the heathen have it, looking aside as they violated and emptied even the very Holy of Holies (the “secret place” of verse 22).
Ancient prisoners were linked with chains as they were transported, and the command in verse 23 to prepare such chains was an indication that they would be needed. “Bloody crimes” referred to murderous judicial decisions, perhaps the ritualized killing of children.
According to verse 25, the Israelites would try to negotiate peace with Nebuchadnezzar’s army but would not succeed. Disaster would follow disaster, yet none of their typical advisors would be able to help. Ultimately, the miseries and desolation caused by the Chaldeans would be as universal and complete as the Israelites’ sins had been.
II. The condemnation of Judah and Jerusalem
A. The prediction of Jerusalem’s overthrow
3. The dirge over Judah’s doom (7:1-27)
a. The wrath of the Lord (7:1-4)
b. The imminence of the judgment (7:5-9)
c. The inescapability of the judgment (7:10-13)
d. The horrors of the judgment (7:14-27)
Those who are unsaved must call upon God today for mercy and be ready for the Lord’s return. That is the end we look forward to with great joy — the end of our life here on earth and the beginning of an eternity in Heaven with the Lord.