Study of the Prophets: Ezekiel 12:17-28

Ezekiel 12: 17-28

17 Moreover the word of YHVH came to me, saying, 18 Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;

The prophet again becomes a sign to those in captivity and in Judah of the coming desolation’s that were coming on Judah and Jerusalem. 1. He must himself eat and drink in care and fear, especially when he was in company, v. 17, 18. Although he was in no danger to himself, but lived in safety and plenty, yet he must eat his bread with quaking (the bread of sorrows, Ps. 127:2) and drink his water with trembling and with carefulness, that he might express the disaster coming upon those who would be in Jerusalem during the siege; not that he must pretend to be in fear and care when in reality he was not; but having to foretell this judgment, he had to show that he firmly believed it himself and because of the prospect of it he was himself affected with grief and fear. When ministers speak of the ruin coming upon impenitent sinners they must speak with passion and true feelings, as someone who knows the terrors of the Lord; but they must be content to endure hardness, so that they may do good.

19And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith YHVH Elohim of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein. 20 And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am YHVH.

Ezekiel must tell them that the inhabitants of Jerusalem should in like manner eat and drink with care and fear, v. 19, 20. He is saying that both those that have their homes in Jerusalem and those of the land of Israel that come to shelter themselves there, shall eat their bread with carefulness and drink their water with astonishment, either because they are afraid it will not hold out, and they shall want shortly, or because they are continually expecting the alarms of the enemy, their life hanging in doubt before them (Deu. 28:66), so that what they have they shall have no enjoyment of nor will it do them any good. Both city and country will be laid in ruins; for it is the utter destruction of both that is the goal of these judgments—that her land may be desolate from all the fullness thereof. The land will be stripped of all its pleasantness, and then the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, for they are served by the field. This universal desolation was coming upon them, and then no wonder that they eat their bread with care

21 And the word of YHVH came unto me, saying, 22 Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? 23 Tell them therefore, Thus saith YHVH Elohim; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it and fear as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision. 24 For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.

Now we are here told:
(1) How evil was the cause of this judgment was; it is because of the violence of all those that dwell therein, their injustice and oppression, and the evil they did one to another. G-d would bring justice upon them for their violence, as well as for the affronts and disrespect put laid upon Him in His worship. The decadence and decay of virtue, Torah Observance of a nation brings on a decay of everything else; and when neighbor devour one another it is just and right when G-d to brings judgment upon them.
(2.) We now see what the effect of this judgment should be: You shall know that I am the Lord; and if, by these judgments, they learn to know him rightly, that will make up the loss of all they are deprived of by these desolations. Afflictions can be a blessing if they bring us into the right relation with HaShem. G-d’s afflictions are given unto us to improve us in an acquaintance with G-d.

We’ve seen how G-d has used various methods to awaken this secure and careless people to an expectation of the judgments coming, designed to stir the up, to excite repentance and reformation. The prophecies of their ruin were confirmed by visions, and illustrated by signs, and all with such evidence and power that one would think they would have responded but we are told how they evaded the conviction, and guarded against it, namely, by telling themselves, and one another, that though these judgments threatened yet they would not come of a long time. G-d answers and says this false security is groundless and vain. Two separate messages which G-d sent to them by the prophet at different times, in vv. 21, 26. Tells them they have false hopes.

First, how they flattered themselves with hopes that the judgments should be delayed. One saying they had, which had become proverbial in the land of Israel, v. 22. They said, “The days are prolonged; the judgments have not come when they were expected to come, but seem to be still put off —from day to day, and therefore we may conclude that every vision fails, because it should seem that some do, that because the destruction has not come yet it will never come; we will never trust a prophet again, for we have been more frightened than hurt.’’ And another saying they had was, “The vision is for a great while to come; it refers to events at a vast distance, and he prophesies of things which, though they may be true, are yet very far off, so we don’t need to trouble our heads about them (v. 27); lying to themselves they say we may die in honor and peace before these troubles come.’’ And, if the troubles had been delayed, they might have made themselves comfortable, as Hezekiah did. Is it not well if peace and truth shall be in my days? But it was a great mistake, and they did deceive themselves into their own ruin; and G-d is very displeased about their attitude
1. It provoked the patience of G-d, who, because for a time kept silence, was thought to be altogether such a one as themselves, Ps. 50:21. Forbearance of G-d which should have led them to repentance hardened them in sin. They were willing to think their works were not evil because sentence against them was not executed speedily; and therefore concluded the vision itself failed, because the days were prolonged.

2. Their unbelief was fueled by the false prophets among them, as is testified to when G-d takes notice in (v. 24) of the vain visions, and flattering divinations, even within the house of Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of G-d. Be careful from whom you take counsel and try the spirits of those who set themselves up as prophets, It’s no marvel if those that deceived themselves by worshipping pretended deities deceived themselves also by crediting pretended prophecies, to which strong delusions G-d justly gave them up for their idolatries.
• These sayings had become proverbial; they were industriously spread among the people, as lies usually are, so that they had got into very one’s mouth, and not only so, but were generally assented to, as proverbs usually are, not only the proverbs of the ancients, but those of the moderns too. It is a token of universal degeneracy in a nation when corrupt and wicked sayings have grown proverbial; and it is an artifice of hasatan to confirm men in their prejudices against the word and ways of G-d, and a great offence to the G-d of heaven. It will not serve for an excuse, when spreading ungodly sayings, to plead that it is a common saying

25 For I am YHVH: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the YHVH Elohim. 26 Again the word of YHVH came to me, saying, 27 Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. 28 Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the YHVH Elohim; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith YHVH Elohim.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart