Judah Judged [Chapters 4-24]
Third Sermon: The Coming Disaster
For the third time, a prophetic sermon came to Ezekiel announcing the destruction of the entire nation of Israel. Soon, they would experience the imminent completion of the Babylonian siege and total destruction from one end of the inheritance of Israel to the other (1-2).
Disaster Declared (1-9)
1. No Pity
Ezekiel let Israel know the end had come. God’s anger, or God's allowing the judgment to come upon them, was happening because of their ways. Their abominations, or their undeterred worship of idols, which led them to be ruthless toward others, was causing Yahweh to let all sorts of punishment come upon them.
His eye would not look on them in pity because while the end was approaching and the Babylonians were laying siege, they still rebelliously clung to their idolatrous ways. Ezekiel told Israel that the only way they would come to know the Lord was if He allowed His judgment to happen (3-4).
2. No Hesitation
Ezekiel referred to the disasters to come as absolutely unique. Ezekiel told Israel to watch for it; it was coming no matter how things were looking.
Ezekiel was precise with the tenses of his wording: it had come; the disaster had already been awakened from its sleep; it was in process of being present already but also coming with unstoppable completion. In Ezekiel's mind, it was here but yet coming (5-6).
It would be a day that sounded like armies warring against each other, drowning out every last shout of joy coming from the mountains of their idolatrous parks and gardens (7).
To get all this straight, it is important to understand that God's anger was dedicated, not to striking a person, but to stepping back and allowing a strike to take place. When Yahweh gets angry, He withdraws His involvement in the process of sin and its consequences.
Those who are unrepentant and insist on following their lust, becoming oblivious to the abuses their lust-craving brings upon themselves and others, will be allowed to experience the full effect of reaping what they have sown. God is ever vigilant, ever working to keep humanity from experiencing what they actually deserve. That is, until the moment He allows the reaping process to go unmonitored because the violence of the sin becomes so acceptable those in the culture that it’s no longer considered violent.
3. No Pity
Israel was about to experience God's wrath. By wrath we mean God’s allowing people to reap the full effect of what they had sown in sin (8). This meant no pity or mercy, no stepping in as usual, for even the beginning of reaping what they had sown was bringing no remorse. Even in difficulty, they continued to cling to their abominable practices.
All of this was happening so Israel could learn that it is Yahweh Who reigns. Yahweh allowed Israel to finally see the result of their choices.
We have no idea how merciful God is in keeping us protected and keeping from us what we have sown and actually deserve (9).
Disaster Defined (10-27)
Ezekiel then begins to define the effects of the disaster. Babylon had blossomed with great pride into a mature rod of wickedness with great ability to mercilessly apply violence to get what she wanted.
1. Preeminence Gone
Israel would lose its wealth and in the process their place of distinction in the earth. Not even one Jewish merchant and professional would be left with any prestige (10-11).
2. Economic Stability Lost
Israel would lose its economic stability. All their markets would be severely depressed, and bankruptcy would be the culture and climate of Israel's economy. It would not be some odd unexplained act; it would be a reaping of what had been sown.
All of Israel's taking advantage of others financially would finally be experienced by the elite of Israel; no person of wealth and substance would be able to sustain their life in Israel (12-13).
3. Military Strength Vanishes
The trumpets of war would blow. These trumpets would call the military to prep for battle but instead none could fight. Before the army of Israel could be gathered, they would be fully routed (14). The sword was threatening, so while the army was threatening to invade Israel, inside they were experiencing famine and disease. They had no will to gather and defend (15). The few who did escape to the mountains acted like doves in the valley—all gentle of heart with no fight left in them. They would moan because they knew well their sin. They were so overcome with guilt and grief that their hands turned feeble and could bear no burden. Their knees were like water collapsing under the smallest weight (17). It was their fear which weakened those who would escape, for they were waiting in desperation for even worse horrors to descend upon them and devour their lives. They waited in utter shame—heads and beards shaven as desperate sinners (18).
4. Beauty Destroyed
Just before they were invaded by the enemy, their wealth was actually a curse to them, making them a target for cruel abuses. Every rich merchant and professional would actually throw their money into the street to avoid armies pillaging and raping them to take it by violence. No longer did having an abundance satisfy their need; they were more than eager to be separated from their wealth than to keep it. The rich were utterly terrified what might befall them.
Their abundance of gold and silver had become a stumbling block to them (19).
All the jewelry they had worn to beautify themselves and make of themselves idols, instead of honoring Yahweh, would become unclean and detestable to them. The avenging army would take everything they had worn to make themselves attractive (20).
God was giving everything which had been used for idolatry over to the avenging army. They were going to profane or use it all for their own gods. They were going to use it to mock the gods Israel had been worshiping. This is what was meant by "profaning" it (21).
Yahweh was even going to allow the treasures of His temple to be robbed and used to worship other gods. Even the temple had become an object of false worship for other gods, so Yahweh was letting it all go (22).
5. Spiritual Authority Destitute
Ezekiel calls upon the cities to "forge chains" to use as a last resort as a means to keep the gates held together during the battering ram stage of the siege. It would however be an utter mockery, for not even a chain could stop what was coming. Israel's idolatry had turned them into a nation of criminals full of violence. They had passed laws to make it legal to take advantage of others; it was now time for Israel to be taken advantage of (23).
Their evil was so great that Yahweh was justified to allow the very worst of other nations to arise, to come, to take possession of their land. Babylon was unbelievably cruel and yet they were the nation Yahweh allowed to judge.
Yahweh was determined to allow an end to come to those who were strong in themselves and who took the holy things of God and used them to serve their own lustful idolatrous ways (24).
Disaster would create anguish, and in that anguish some Israelites would finally seek for peace with Yahweh, some level of relationship with Yahweh. However while they were seeking for some level of peace, they would yet be unwilling to completely renounce all of their abominable ways and idolatrous practices.
Remember, by abominable we mean those idolatrous practices which would justify a lustful lifestyle that would destroy the lives of others to justify their having what the heart craved (25).
Ezekiel went on to announce that one ruinous misfortune would follow another ruinous misfortune. One speculation of war and calamity would follow another rumor of catastrophe.
Israel would seek a vision from a prophet, but the law would have long perished from the mediation habits of the priests. Beyond that, the elders would have long since stopped looking for advice and counsel from Yahweh. Without law and daily mediation in God's Word, spiritual life in Israel had died.
In short, there were no prophets left in captivity who could give a word from God. Spiritual hope was dead, and God's Word had been abandoned (26).
The leaders of Israel were in mourning and despair; the people were crippled with fear.
All that was happening to Israel was not some indiscriminate circumstance of chance. Yahweh had finally withdrawn and was allowing Israel to reap what she had sown (27).