The Word Made Fresh
1The word of the LORD said to me, 2“Son of man, this is what the LORD says to the land of Israel:
The end has come to the far corners of the earth!
3It is coming even now!
I will send my rage against you and judge your behavior,
and turn all your mistakes against you.
4I will not shed a single tear for you. I will show you no pity.
I will turn your acts against you,
and the filth of your behavior will stick to you.
Then you will know that I am the LORD.
5The LORD God issues a proclamation
that a unique disaster will fall upon you. Watch for it!
6The end has come to you. Oh, yes it has.
Look around you; it is here!
7You inhabitants of earth are finally caught in your own schemes.
The day and time is upon you.
Panic, not celebration, sweeps over your mountains.
8And now it has arrived,
and I will pour out my anger upon you until it is satisfied.
I will judge your actions
and turn all your despicable deeds against you.
9I will neither weep nor pity you when I punish you,
and your filthy ways will come back to haunt you.
Then you will know that I, the LORD, have stricken you.
10See, the day of your doom has arrived.
The time of your punishment has passed,
and the rod is now covered with buds.
Your arrogance is pronounced.
11Violence, like an evil staff, grows.
But it isn’t from the armies or the violence of others –
they are not responsible for its rising.
12The time has come. The day is dawning.
No one who buys anything can celebrate.
Nor will the one who sells be sad,
because God’s wrath has fallen on everyone.
13The one who sells will never retrieve what was sold,
even if both seller and buyer survive.
The judgment falls on all alike and will not be withdrawn,
and those who are guilty won’t survive.
14They have sounded the trumpet and all is prepared,
but none of them goes to battle
because my anger sweeps over all of them.
15Outside is war. Inside there is plague and famine.
Whoever is caught in the field will be killed by the sword.
Those inside the city will be consumed by plague and famine.
16As for those who run,
they will be found on the hills like doves in the valley.
All the guilty ones will moan.
17Every hand will hang limp and every leg soaked with urine.
18They will wear the clothing of mourners
They will be overwhelmed with horror.
Shame will cover every face and baldness every head.
19They will throw their silver coins into the street,
and even that will be deemed worthless.
Their silver and gold can’t save them
on the day of the LORD’s wrath.
Their hunger will go unsatisfied, and their bellies will remain empty.
Their guilt will destroy them.
20That beautiful jewelry in which they took so much pride
has been turned into filthy, detestable idols.
And so, I have pronounced all of it ritually unclean.
21I will give it to foreigners as the spoils of war.
The wicked ones of the earth will defile it as plunder.
22When I turn my face away from my people,
foreigners will make my valuable place filthy.
They will intrude violently and defile it.
23Get chains ready, because the city is full of injustice and violence.
24I will bring cruel enemies to seize your houses;
your proud strength will be broken
and your sanctuaries made filthy.
25Disaster has come. If you search for peace, you will find none.
26Calamity will follow calamity and rumors come one after the other.
They will seek a vision from the prophet
because neither priests nor elders have any instructions.
27The king will go into mourning.
The prince will be covered with despair.
The hands of the people in the land will tremble.
When I do to them as they have done
and judge them by their own laws
they will know that I am the LORD.
1-27: God gives Ezekiel the words which follow without specific instructions about what Ezekiel is to do with them. In content this chapter is not much different from what has gone before. God is going to destroy the land of Israel/Judah and the people left in it. There are certain specific emphases: 1) God’s fierce anger will destroy all that is left of Judah and Israel; 2) the destruction will be punishment for their iniquities; 3) other nations, “the worst of the nations,” will settle the land in their place; 4) the temple (“their beautiful ornament”) will be plundered and made unclean; 5) their pagan shrines will be profaned; 6) and last, but perhaps most important, “they shall know that I am the LORD.”
Perhaps a brief recounting of history will help at this point. Ezekiel is prophesying in 593 B.C., the interim period between the first and second exiles. The first exile took place in 597 B.C. when King Jeconiah was taken captive to Babylon along with some of the citizens of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was among those who were exiled to Babylon on that occasion. We have been reading the account of a vision he saw by the river Chebar which contains prophesies about a second siege of Jerusalem which will result in a second exile in 587-586 B.C. This second exile will come as a result of the total destruction of Jerusalem. The city will be practically abandoned and the administrative functions of what will then be a Babylonian province will be transferred to Mizpah, where Governor Gedaliah will be assassinated by Ishmael who will then flee the country. In other words, although Jerusalem has already been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar once, the prophecies we are reading now predict another, much more devastating, attack.
Chapter 7, it seems to me, brings us to the end of the first visionary trance that began at 1:1.
The people of Judah gradually, over a period of decades and through the reign of a number of kings, replaced the worship of God with the worship of idols and other things. That is a danger to any nation, and Ezekiel is a warning to us all that if our faith in God is put aside, everything will eventually be lost.