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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 5: God's Razor of Judgment


[Preliminary Comment: The prophecy that follows is devastating. After an almost gentle beginning with prophetic action pieces, now comes a further action piece and its accompanying devastating word: Jerusalem is condemned for its idolatry and because of it judgment will fall in the forms of famine, plague and sword.]


v.1-4 Ezekiel provides a prophetic picture of God shaving Israel

v.5-7 Jerusalem's Failure Declared

v.8-18 Jerusalem's awful punishment

v.11-13 God's ‘shaving' of the people

v.14,15 Jerusalem to become a reproach

v.16,17 The destruction of the peoples



v.1-4 Ezekiel provides a prophetic picture of God shaving Israel


v.1 “Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. 

v.2  When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. 

v.3 But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. 

v.4 Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to all Israel. 


[Notes: The prophetic action pieces continue with Ezekiel being required to shave his head and beard and carefully divide up the hair, all this presumably in the sight of others who would no doubt gossip what he was doing. He still has his large model of Jerusalem and so he is to burn a third of the hair on the model [inside the city], scatter a third of the hair around the outside of the model and lay about it with a sword, and then simply take the remaining third outside and let the wind blow it away. But he is to save a few hairs and of these then throw a few into the fire. Remember this is a one-off action prophecy, presumably carried out in the presence of other members of the exile community. The explanation will follow.]



v.5-7 Jerusalem's Failure Declared


v.5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 

v.6 Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees. 

v.7  “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you. 


[Notes: This appears to be the first prophetic word that is specifically for speaking out. It highlights the Lord's displeasure with the sin of disobedience of Jerusalem.]



v.8-18 Jerusalem's awful punishment


v.8  “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. 

v.9 Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. 

v.10  Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds. 


[Notes: The result of His displeasure will be His judgment on the idolatry in the city, seen in the form of a most terrible famine [no doubt as a result of the siege] that the people of Jerusalem will experience.]



v.11-13 God's ‘shaving' of the people


v.11 Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. 

v.12  A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword. 

v.13  “Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I the LORD have spoken in my zeal. 


[Notes: The ‘hair-cutting' picture is now applied: a third to die of plague or famine in the city, a third killed by the sword outside it and a third – probably fleeing – killed at a distance. When it is all over, they will know this was an act of God's judgment.]



v.14,15 Jerusalem to become a reproach


v.14  “I will make you a ruin and a reproach among the nations around you, in the sight of all who pass by. 

v.15 You will be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and an object of horror to the nations around you when I inflict punishment on you in anger and in wrath and with stinging rebuke. I the LORD have spoken. 


[Notes: The result will be a ruined city mocked by passers-by.]



v.16,17 The destruction of the peoples


v.16 When I shoot at you with my deadly and destructive arrows of famine, I will shoot to destroy you. I will bring more and more famine upon you and cut off your supply of food. 

v.17  I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I the LORD have spoken.”


[Notes: The judgments of famine, plague, wild beasts, and the sword WILL decimate the people.]


[Concluding Note: This first spoken prophecy is absolute and clear: the sin of Jerusalem – idolatry – WILL bring the judgment of God, complete destruction of the city and of its inhabitants.]



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