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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 12: The Exile Symbolized & Zedekiah warned



Part 4: Prophecies of warnings up to the fall of Jerusalem

Ch.12 – The Exile Symbolized & Zedekiah warned

Ch.13 – False prophets & prophetesses condemned

Ch.14 – Divided-heart Prophet-Seekers condemned

Ch.15 – Jerusalem as a useless vine   

Ch.16 – Jerusalem as an adulterous wife & a prostitute

Ch.17 – Two eagles and a vine

Ch.18 – Teaching: The one who sins will die

Ch.19 – A lament over Israel's princes

Ch.20 – Rebellious Israel's Failures & Purging

Ch.21 – Babylon as God's sword of judgment

Ch.22 – Judgment on Jerusalem's sins

Ch.23 – Two adulterous sisters

Ch.24 – Jerusalem as a cooking pot & Ezekiel's wife dies, Jerusalem's impending fall



[Preliminary Comment: The visual element of this chapter is an action-prophecy by Ezekiel that his neighbours will witness, gossip about, and then question him about, so he can then give a specific explanation – it is all about Zedekiah, who reigned at that moment in Jerusalem, fleeing the city, being caught, having his sight taken and taken in chains to Babylon. It is very specific in its description and the fulfilment was exact. Ezekiel is to reinforce it with a further action drama of eating and drinking in fear, to demonstrate what will be happening back in the land. To this he is to refute those in the land who say these prophecies never seem to come to anything – they are about to be fulfilled!]



v.1,2 The Lord makes very clear the state of the people


v.1 The word of the LORD came to me

v.2  “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. 


[Notes: The state of the people requires special measures to get through to them – action prophecies that will be talked about and then perhaps thought about.]



v.3-6 Ezekiel instructed to carry out an action prophecy


v.3 “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people. 

v.4 During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. 

v.5 While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. 

v.6 Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the Israelites.” 


[Notes: Ezekiel is to pretend to go on a journey while others watch, preparing in the morning, going in the evening and as they watch he is to dig a hole through a wall [presumably of his home] and clamber through it carrying his belongings, with a cloth over his face.]



v.7 He obeys


v.7 So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched. 


[Notes: Ezekiel exactly carries out the instructions producing a double spectacle to be watched.]



v.8-15 The focus is on Zedekiah who may flee but be caught


v.8 In the morning the word of the LORD came to me

v.9  “Son of man, did not the Israelites, that rebellious people, ask you, ‘What are you doing?' 

v.10 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This prophecy concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites who are there.' 

v.11 Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.' “As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives. 

v.12 “The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. 

v.13 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. 

v.14 I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword. 

v.15 “They will know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 


[Notes: When the people question him, Ezekiel is to explain this symbolizes what will happen to Zedekiah – see 2 Kings 25:4-7 for the exact fulfilment. Note – ‘at dusk' so Zedekiah won't see the country and perhaps cover his face in disguise – v.6b,12b. He will be caught [v.13], taken to Babylon but will not see it [blinded] and will end his life in Babylon. His men will flee.]



v.16 A ray of hope – there will yet be a remnant saved


v.16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” 


[Notes: Although large numbers will die, those who are taken captive [seen elsewhere] will be spared to join the exile.]



v.17-20 Ezekiel to eat & drink in fear to demonstrate what the people of Jerusalem will feel


v.17  The word of the LORD came to me

v.18  “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. 

v.19  Say to the people of the land: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. 

v.20 The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'”


[Notes: Ezekiel is to act out the fear that the people of Jerusalem and in the Land will feel. It will simply add to the store of things the exiles will speak about and which will find their way back to Jerusalem to back up and support Jeremiah's prophecies.]



v.21-25 A warning that there will be no more delays


v.21  The word of the LORD came to me

v.22  “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing'? 

v.23 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.' Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. 

v.24  For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. 

v.25 But I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign LORD.'” 


[Notes: The people had been disparaging the prophecies – probably of both Jeremiah and those coming from Ezekiel – and so the Lord warns that all their words will shortly be fulfilled.]



v.26-28 The same word comes again – no more delays


v.26  The word of the LORD came to me

v.27  “Son of man, the Israelites are saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.' 

v.28  “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign LORD.'”


[Notes: The word comes to Ezekiel a second time to emphasise it and ensure it is being heard and understood.]


[Concluding Note: It is a scarily accurate prophecy, initially acted out but then explained, that warns what will soon happen to the king in Jerusalem. He has been warned!]



Continue to Chapter 13