Ezekiel 12

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD said to me: 2“Son of man, you are living with a family who have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. 3They are a rebellious family. So, prepare to be exiled, and go into exile in the daytime so they can see you. As they watch, go as an exile from your home to another place. They are a rebellious bunch, but maybe they will understand. 4Bring your luggage out in daylight so they can see you, and as evening approaches go out while they watch. 5Dig through the city wall while they watch and carry your baggage through it. 6While they watch, lift the baggage on your shoulders and carry it out in the dark. Cover your face so you can’t see the land. I am making of you a sign for the families of Israel.”

7I did just as I was commanded to do. I brought out my luggage for exile by day, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my bare hands and brought the baggage out when it was dark. I carried it on my shoulder while they watched.

8The next morning the LORD said to me, 9“Son of man, hasn’t the rebellious house of Israel asked what you are doing? 10Tell them that the LORD God has given this oracle concerning the prince in Jerusalem and all the families of Israel who reside there. 11Tell them, ‘I am an example for you. As you have seen me do, so shall it be done to you. You will go into exile as captives.’ 12Then their prince shall lift his baggage onto his shoulder and, in the dark, dig through the wall and carry his baggage through with his face covered so that he cannot see the land. 13I will catch him in my snare and spread a net over him. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans. He will not see that land, but he will die there. 14I will scatter everyone around him to the winds – his servants and all his soldiers. I will draw the sword behind them. 15Then they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations. 16But I will allow a few of them to escape from the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, so that they will tell among the nations all about their suffering. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

17The LORD said to me: 18Son of man, eat your bread shaking. Drink your water trembling and fearful. 19Tell the people of the land, “This is the LORD’s word to the people who reside in Jerusalem in Israel: They shall eat their bread in fear and drink their water without hope because their land will be emptied of everything it contains. This is on account of the violence of the people who live there. 20The cities will be laid waste, the land will become desolate, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

21The LORD’s word came to me again: 22“Son of man, what is this saying of yours about the land of Israel: ‘The days are lengthened, and every vision comes to nothing?’ 23Tell them the LORD says, ‘I will do away with this saying and they will use it no more as a proverb in Israel.’ But tell them the days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. 24There will no longer be false visions or flattering words in the house of Israel. 25But I the LORD will speak these words and they will come to pass, delayed no longer. In your lifetime, rebellious people, I will speak the word and make it happen. Thus says the LORD God.

26The LORD said to me: 27Son of man, the Israelites are saying that the vision you see is for many years from now; that you prophesy for the distant future. 28Tell them that the LORD God says, “None of my words will be delayed. My word will come to pass, says the LORD.”


1-7: God gives Ezekiel instructions to perform what will be a sign-act pointing to the coming exile of those remaining in Jerusalem. He is to take a bundle, dig through the wall, and carry the bundle out as one being exiled, in full view of the people. Ezekiel does as God says.

8-16: When the people ask Ezekiel what he’s doing he is to tell them that this is what God will do to the people and to “the prince who is among them,” a reference to Zedekiah. Zedekiah will pack a bag, dig through the wall and try to slip through the blockade thrown up around the city by Nebuchadnezzar. He will be captured, and they will kill his sons in his sight and then put out his eyes and take him to Babylon where he will die in exile (see 2 Kings 25:1-7). The people remaining in the city will be scattered, but a few will be allowed to escape and tell the story among the nations.

17-20: Another sign-act: Ezekiel is to eat and drink, visibly shaking in fear, to depict how the people remaining in Jerusalem will eat and drink in fear because of the destruction approaching.

21-28: There are those who hear of the vision of approaching punishment, whose reaction is, “That’s what they keep saying, but nothing has happened yet.” God’s response is that what they will be proved wrong; God will fulfill the vision, and soon.


God would not let Israel go in spite of everything. Instead of simply wiping them off the face of the earth, God is determined to woo them back through the prophets. Even if we turn away from the faith, God will cling to us as long as there is hope that we will return to God.