Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Ezekiel: Lesson 7 (Chapter 3:20- 4)
3:20 Both the wicked and the righteous must accept responsibility for their sins and the consequences thereof. The phrase “he shall die in his sin,” as referring to the righteous man, means that he shall die “by” or because of ‘his sin. The death described is physical, and the emphasis is on the physical consequences of sin. These physical consequences are the same for the saved and lost alike. However, note that the wicked man dies “in” or “by” his iniquity or perverseness (v.19) “because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, of thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned, also thou hast delivered thy soul.”
3:17-21 Ezekiel’s unique ministry to Israel was to be a divinely appointed “watchman.” One who not only warned the nation, but issued directed warnings to individuals. Every walled city had a watchman to ensure its safety and security. It was the duty of the watchman to scan the horizon and sound the alarm of any impending danger. A man measures his responsibility by his knowledge and opportunities. Thus, the “watchman” carried an awesome responsibility. The warning was not only of physical death, but of spiritual doom. The duties of the spiritual watchman are presented in 33:1-9.
33 “ The word of the L-rd came to me. O mortal, speak to your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a swoard upon the land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blod shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the pwople are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.” So, you mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But is you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
“And the hand of the L-rd was there upon me; and he said unto me, ‘Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will talk with thee. ‘Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and behold, the glory of the L-rd stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar; and I fell on my face. Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me ‘Go, shut thyself within thine house. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprove: for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, ‘Thus saith the L-rd G-d; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.’”
3:24 Soon after Ezekiel was commissioned as a prophet, he was commanded by G-d to refrain from public ministry (v.24). When the people refused to hear G-d’s message, the prophet was instructed not to speak. During this period of silence (seven and one-half years) dates in 1:1-3 with 33:21,22, the prophet did speak when G-d gave him specific messages for the people and instructed him to declare them (v.27). The silence lasted until the fall of Jerusalem (33:21,22)
Thou also, son of man, take thee a tie, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem. And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.”
4;1 Though mute, Ezekiel was to declare a message in mime for the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel scratched either the city map or a view of the skyline of Jerusalem upon the “clay tablet.” A sunbaked mud brick commonly used in writing. This was the first of a series of symbolic acts, found in 4:1-6:7, which were part of his messages to the exiles. Such symbolic acts were one of the ways that the prophets communicated their messages. Jeremiah wore a yoke about his neck (Jer. 27:1,2). Isaiah walked “naked and barefoot” for three years (Is. 20:3).
“Moreover, take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel. Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it, according to the number of days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore, thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.”
4:2,3 The inevitable fall of Jerusalem was portrayed by five props: (1) a “siege wall” or fortress; (2) a “mound,” i.e. an earthen ramp used in scaling the walls; (3) “camps” referring to military encampments; (4) “battering rams,” for battering walls, gates, etc.; and (5) an “iron plate,” which probably represented the impenetrable advancing army.
“Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.”
4:12 The use of dried animal manure as a fuel is still common practice in the Near East. It was unthinkable for Ezekiel to use human excrement for such a purpose. As a priest, he was vitally concerned about ceremonial purity, and on that basis, refused to agree to such a practice (v.14). G-d accommodated Ezekiel by allowing the use of animal manure (v.15), yet He had made His point concerning the severity of the situation.
“And the L-rd said, ‘Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the gentiles, whither I will drive them.’ Then said I, Ah L-rd G-d! behold my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth. Then he said unto me, ‘Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. Moreover, he said unto me, ‘Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want bread and water, and be astonished with one another, and consume away for their iniquity.
Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue