BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
SIGNS OF THE COMING EXILE
(Judgment against false prophets)
In Ezekiel chapter 12, the LORD calls on Ezekiel to demonstrate with his own body, a message, or “sign” of the coming Babylonian Invasion and Exile in Jerusalem. Here (chapter 12) begins a series of messages that continue on through Ezekiel 19, that are initiated with the phrase, “The Word of the LORD came to me”.
Despite all of the recent setbacks in Judah surrounding the first two invasions by King Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonians forces (605 & 597 B.C.), the Israelites still held out hope that their exile would be short-lived, and not so painful. However, in this coming series of messages, GOD, through Ezekiel, would systematically destroy all foundations of their false hope, and, quite literally, shake HIS rebellious people back into a state of reality that the prophet Jeremiah was not able to achieve in them.
In the Hebrew, the word most often used for “truth”, in the bible, is “emeth” (eh-meth), and, it is “that which is sure, established, right, and faithful”. In the biblical Greek, the word most often used for “truth” is “aletheia” (al-ay-thi-a), and it is “that which is in harmony with reality”.
In verse 2, GOD tells Ezekiel that, “Son of man, you live among rebels who could see the truth if they wanted to, but they don’t want to. They could hear ME if they would listen, but they won’t listen because they are rebellious” (NLT).
Grasping spiritual truth is a matter of attitude, rather than intelligence. To have eyes to see, and ears to hear, speaks of one’s capacity to process information based on his or her attitude toward GOD. Only a mind and heart that is open to the HOLY SPIRIT can grasp and respond favorably to the things of GOD. A person who has a selfish and rebellious spirit has cut themselves off from a spiritual line of communication with GOD.
Therefore, GOD has HIS prophet Ezekiel to demonstrate “physically” with his own body, the fate that awaited Judah in the very near future. In verse 3 HE tells Ezekiel to “put on a demonstration” to show the people of Judah what it will be like to go off into exile. Here HE instructs HIS prophet to pack whatever he can carry on his back and leave his home to go on a journey. These preparations were to be made in broad daylight so that everyone could see him, and perhaps then, they would consider what it means, even though they remained in a rebellious state up until that point.
Ezekiel did what he was told, and the next morning, the LORD gives him another message concerning King Zedekiah and the entire nation of Israel (Vs.8-13); “Son of man, these rebels, the people of Israel, have asked you what all this means. Say to them, “This is what the sovereign LORD says: These actions contain a message for Zedekiah in Jerusalem and for all the people of Israel. Then explain that your actions are a demonstration of what will soon happen to them, for they will be driven from their homes and sent away in exile. Even Zedekiah will leave Jerusalem at night through a hole in the wall, taking only what he can carry with him. He will cover his face, and his eyes will never see his homeland again. Then I will spread out MY net and capture him in MY snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Babylonians, though he will never see it, and he will die there (NLT).
And so we see that Ezekiel was actually acting out the future fate of King Zedekiah in his demonstration a day earlier, and now history tells us that that is exactly what happened to Zedekiah in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:1-7). Nebuchadnezzar and his entire army built siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem, and kept it under siege for two years, before finally destroying the city and the temple. They killed all of Zedekiah’s sons, and then gorged out his eyes and carried him off to Babylon, just as the LORD had spoken, through HIS servant Ezekiel.
In verses 21-28 we find the fourth and fifth messages of this chapter from the LORD, to HIS prophet Ezekiel. The fourth message is one regarding a proverb that the people of Israel had been quoting for quite some time. The proverb disrespectfully stated that “Time passes making a liar of every prophet”. Here in this passage GOD sends a message that HE will put an end to this foolish saying. In fact, HE gives the prophet Ezekiel a new proverb to replace the one being quoted by Israel, it says simply, “The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled”.
The Israelites proverb expressed a point of view that the messages delivered by such prophets as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were not true. Their underlying argument was that, basically, “if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to happen”. And this, of course, proved in time to be a gravely wrong notion. GOD’s delay in HIS judgment speaks to the evidence of HIS grace, and should not ever be considered as a sign that no judgment is forthcoming.
The final message given to Ezekiel in this chapter shows GOD’s dismay over another saying, which states, “HIS visions won’t come true for a long, long time”. And so GOD lets the Israelites in on HIS plan to immediately destroy the city of Jerusalem and punish all the sinners and idolaters in, this, their lifetime.
In Ezekiel 13 we see GOD detail HIS judgment against, both, male and female false (foolish) prophets, those who, of course, invent their own prophecies, or, as I like to say, “make stuff up”. Here GOD says that destruction will be certain for those who are following their own imaginations (human ingenuity), and who have, in reality, seen nothing, or received nothing from HIM. Nothing at all!
In the Hebrew the word used here to describe these false prophets is “nabal”, which means “foolish”. It is a spiritual trait, rather than an intellectual one. It is a trait used by those who are both “arrogant and irreligious”. It embodies one who is not just wrong, but he or she, who is “willfully wrong”.
And so, being willfully wrong, they have to “whitewash”, or, try to cover up the “spiritual cracks” in their “church house” walls, which are caused by their mixing of the holy with the profane, and their overall general deceiving of the congregation, or “the people of GOD”.
A true prophet will point out the cracks in the moral and spiritual walls of the church, and serve as reliable protection for the people within who listen. And so, while the false prophet is busy trying to whitewash things over, and make pretty on the outside, those spiritual flaws that are really killing themselves, and the people inside, the true prophet is busy demonstrating with his own body and behavior, just how those flaws are going to eventually cause those walls to collapse and fall on them, due to GOD’s judgment (Vs.1-12).
And so we find in verses 13-15, GOD’s solution to the foolishness of the false prophet; here GOD says, “I will sweep away your whitewashed walls with a storm of indignation, with a great flood of anger, and with hailstones of fury. I will break down your walls right to the foundation, and when it falls, it will crush you. Then you will know that I am the LORD! At last MY anger against the walls and those who covered them with whitewash will be satisfied. Then I will say to you: The wall and those who whitewashed it are both gone. They were lying prophets who claimed peace would come to Jerusalem when there was no peace. I, the sovereign LORD, have spoken!” (NLT)
Taking up at verse 17 the LORD tells Ezekiel to also speak out against the false women prophets. Here HE warns that, “Destruction is certain for you women who are ensnaring the souls of MY people, both young and old alike. You tie magic charms on their wrists and furnish them with magic veils. Do you think you can trap others without bringing destruction on yourselves? You turn MY people away from ME for a few handfuls of barley or a piece of bread. By lying to MY people who love to listen to lies, you kill those who should not die, and you promise life to those who should not live (Vs.17-19 – NLT).
In biblical times, the Israelites indulged in a form of “Mesopotamian witchcraft and sorcery” that they learned from the Hittites and Syrians, through these false women prophets. “Barley bread” was used by these women sorcerers in divination, as an element of sacrificial rituals. The intrinsic evil of these occult practices had a devastating impact on the lives of those who participated. These women disheartened those who were once righteousness seekers, and instead, caused them to seek after wicked solutions to their life’s problems. This made the LORD very angry, and so, as a result, the LORD would come down heavy on these evil female sorcerers, who fashioned themselves as prophets (Vs.20-23).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website