Read Ezekiel 12
The Exile Symbolized
12 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.
3 “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people.4 During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. 5 While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. 6 Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the Israelites.”
7 So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched.
8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, did not the Israelites, that rebellious people, ask you, ‘What are you doing?’
10 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This prophecy concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites who are there.’11 Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.’
“As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives.
12 “The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. 13 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. 14 I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword.
15 “They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. 19 Say to the people of the land: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. 20 The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
There Will Be No Delay
21 The word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverbyou have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled.24 For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. 25 But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfillwhatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, the Israelites are saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’
28 “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
The people of God still aren’t listening to God. Chapter 12 opens with God stating to Ezekiel: “You are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear” (v. 2). So, He attempts to get their attention again, this time by having Ezekiel act out the exile before them. It’s one last warning for God’s people to repent or else exile is coming. It’s as though God is waving His arms and jumping up and down, trying to do whatever it takes to get through to His people.
But it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, there were false prophets at this time claiming that God wasn’t serious about the threat of exile, that it wouldn’t come to pass and that God would deliver His people. There was even a proverb in those days that said: “Days are prolonged and every vision fails.” The people of God were essentially buying into lies that God’s judgment was far off and not coming for them. Or, at least not soon. These words sounded better to their ears than Ezekiel’s harsh rebuke and so the Israelites were lulled to complacency, apathetic to God’s warning.
It’s easy for us to look at the Israelites dumb-founded. They were in exile, being warned of more exile to come for the remaining Israelites and yet, they don’t take it seriously. What are they thinking? Of course God means what He says. Why won’t they just listen?
But, what about us? We often don’t take God at His word any more seriously. We hear clear commands in Scripture to abide in Christ, forgive our enemy, not gossip, pursue purity, share our faith, pray constantly, be generous with our money and we don’t rush to obey either. We feast on the lies of an apathetic culture around us and give into complacency saying, “I’ll take my faith seriously, later.” Or, “there’s grace, I can give into this sin today.” Or, “no one else around me is taking sin seriously, why should I?”
We must remember delayed obedience is disobedience. We need to repent of our casual attitude towards sin and fear God instead. May we adopt the posture of Ezekiel in chapter 1 when he first got a glimpse of the glory of God: “When I saw (the glory of God), I fell facedown.” May our knees hit the ground in repentance as we humble ourselves before a Holy God.
- What is a sin that you treat casually? How might you truly repent of that sin today?
- Do you fear God? How would your life look different if you truly feared God?
- Where are you delaying obedience? Is there something God is asking you to do that you keep putting off?
By the Way
2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
The Israelites might have doubted God’s discipline because it was so long off, but let’s not forget the reason behind the delay in punishment: God is patient with us because He longs for our repentance.