Chapter 22, Part 2 Preview: The reality of Ezekiel’s warnings to the twelve nations of Israel (and Gog & Magog) will come as a complete shock to the millions of survivors of the Tribulation as they learn that the captivity and eventual escape from captivity of the millions of primarily English speaking people of the world is all recorded in extreme detail in their dust covered copies of the Scriptures that lie around as good luck charms. Our friends, those fortunate enough to survive will learn about these things when they are summonsed by Yehovah (God) to the New Israel!
While it was wrong for Israel to be making “covenants” with their non Israelite nations; it is nevertheless important not to break our word when we do have an agreement. In this chapter the king of old Israel broke an oath with the king of Babylon; expecting an ally to fight on his side and bail him out. To his surprise, Yehovah views this as a personal affront and saw to it that he was taken captive to Babylon and killed. Yehovah says that: “He has despised the oath by breaking the covenant”. While this chapter explains to the former captives that their terrible predicament was largely due to their leadership, it also explains what will happen in the encore reenactment:
V 16-20 As I live, declares the Sovereign Yehovah, surely in the place where the king lives who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he broke, even with him in the middle of Babylon he’ll die. 17 Nor will Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company help him in the war, when they threw up mounds and build forts, to cut off many people. 18 He has despised the oath by breaking the covenant, he had even given his hand, and yet has done all these things, he won’t escape! 19 So the Sovereign Yehovah says, “As I live, surely My oath that he has despised, and My covenant that he has broken, I’ll bring ‘down’ on his own head. 20 I’ll spread My net over him, and he’ll be taken in My snare, and I’ll bring him to Babylon, and enter into judgment with him there for the trespass that he ‘did’ against Me.
This resulted / will result in lethal consequences for many of the people of the nation:
V 21 All his fugitives in all his bands shall fall by the sword, and those who remain shall be scattered toward every wind: and you shall know that I, Yehovah, have spoken it.
As usually accompanies dire prophecy, there is the promise of a better future. In this instance a cutting is taken from the fallen tree and planted on a high mountain, symbolizing the future restoration of the descendants of Ezekiel’s contemporaries.
V 22-24 The Sovereign Yehovah says, “I’ll also take of the lofty top of the cedar, and will set it, I’ll crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I’ll plant it on a high and lofty mountain, 23 I will plant it on a high mountain in Israel. It will grow branches and produce seeds and become a stately cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it and find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the field will know that I, Yehovah, have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish, I, Yehovah, have spoken and I will do it.
In Ezekiel 40:2 Ezekiel again used the same description of a “high mountain” to describe the new Israel that he described in his prophecy.
A revived Babylon is a major feature of the book of Revelation and is mentioned in its chapters 14, 16, 17 and 18—the latter two chapters being entirely about it. There are also literally dozens of references to Babylon in the end time prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The concept of a superpower to the north of Israel, and one to the south, is the major feature of the longest running prophecy (time wise) in the Scriptures: Daniel 10:14 thru chapter 12.
Don’t let the word “king” (leader) cause you to think that this must be a reference to times past. Every American President can trace his lineage to king David! Furthermore, the British royal family has known “forever” that their monarchy goes clear back to David as well.
When Israel falls it does not appear that the casualties will be random. In “normal” times the good die right along with the bad in a ratio that does not raise too many eyebrows—but this is different! Those who “keep all My statutes ... will surely live” while he who “commits iniquity” will surely die. Of course it will take some extraordinary efforts for people: the good and the not so good, to even recognize Yehovah’s statutes. Yet that understanding is a part of the plan.
21-32 But if a wicked person turns from all the sins they’v committed, and obeys all of My statutes, and does what is fair and right, they will certainly live [forever], they won’t die [forever]. 22 None of the rebellious things that did will be remembered for use against them. They will live [forever] because of the righteous things that they did. 23 Do I enjoy the death of the wicked, asks the Sovereign Yehovah? Shouldn’t I prefer that they turn from their ways and live?
24 When a righteous person turns away from doing right, and begins doing sinful things and do the same loathsome behaviors that the wicked do, should they live? None of the righteous things that they did will be remembered, because of their unfaithful behavior—due to the sins they have committed. They will die [forever] because of them! 25 Yet you say, “The way of Yehovah isn’t fair.” Listen, ‘nation’ of Israel: Is My way unfair? Aren’t your ways unfair? 26 When a righteous person turns away from their righteousness, and commits sins, and dies ‘unchanged’, in their sins they will die [forever]. 27 Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness that they have committed, and does what is lawful and right, they’ll save their lives. 28 Because they reconsidered, and turned away from all their rebellion that they have committed, they’ll surely live, and not [or never] die. 29 Yet the nation of Israel say, “The ways of Yehovah aren’t fair.” ‘Nation’ of Israel, aren’t My ways fair and your ways unfair?
30 So I’ll judge you, ‘nation’ of Israel, each of you by what you’ve done, says the Sovereign Yehovah. Change your minds, and turn away from all your sins, so that sin won’t trip you up. 31 Throw away the rebellion that you’ve committed, and make yourself a new mind and a new spirit. Why should you die, ‘nation’ of Israel? 32 I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Sovereign Yehovah. So turn and live!
This is another chapter strictly pertaining to captivity. We begin with “a lamentation for the leaders of Israel”. While this may be construed as historic fulfillment, end time duality may be implied by the second lion cub being besieged. For this to be the case then the phrase “mountains of Israel” in this chapter would have to be a reference to the “nations of Israel” already in diaspora rather than a reference to the literal mountainous regions of Israel. The figurative use of the word mountain could easily be the case since in all 17 places where Ezekiel used the word “mountains”, the word “nations” could be substituted without any compromise of the meaning. The only other Biblical references to “mountains of Israel” are in Joshua 11 and they pertain to the actual geography. The final verse leaves us with “no strong rod to be a scepter to rule.” This would either mean that weak “rods” are ruling over Israel during this time, or none at all!
1,5-9,14 Take up a lamentation for the leaders of Israel. ... 5 Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, she took another of her cubs, and made him a young lion. 6 He went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and he learned to catch the prey and devoured men. 7 He knew their palaces, and laid waste their cities, and the land was desolate, and its fullness, because of the noise of his roaring. 8 Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and they spread their net over him, he was taken in their pit. 9 They put him in a cage with hooks, and brought him to the king of Babylon, they brought him into strongholds, so that his voice would no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. ... 14 Fire has gone out of the rods of its branches, it has devoured its fruit, so that there is no strong rod to be a scepter to rule. This is a lamentation, and will remain a lamentation.
This chapter begins with a thoro explanation about why Yehovah brought on the first captivity. There are three things in particular that caused the original captivity. First Israel rejected all of Yehovah’s statutes and ordinances. Secondly there is special emphasis on Sabbath breaking. Even as a Sabbath observer, the emphasis on Sabbath breaking and Israel’s eventual captivity is surprising. Thirdly there was the abomination of sacrificing their firstborn sons to a pagan god. No doubt many of these young women were quite remorseful to see their children burned in the name of religion. But how much worse is it to have children aborted and burned (cremated), without remorse, simply because their birth would have been inconvenient!
First, the historic part:
8-24 But they rebelled against Me, and refused to listen to Me. They didn’t throw away the vile images they looked to, or abandon their Egyptian idols. So I considered pouring out My fury on them, to satisfy My anger against them within the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, where they were living, who saw me reveal Myself by bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I took them out of the land of Egypt and led them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them My statutes, and explained My ordinances to them so that if they do them, they’ll live. 12 I also gave them My Sabbaths, as a sign between Me and them, so that they would know that I am Yehovah who makes them kadosh. 13 But the ‘nation’ of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness, they didn’t ‘live’ by My statutes, and they rejected My ordinances, that if they obeyed, they would live. They violated My Sabbaths, so I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. 14 But again I acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, who watched Me bring them out. 15 But I swore to them in the wilderness that I wouldn’t bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey that I had promised them—the most beautiful of all lands, flowing with milk and honey— 16 because they rejected My ordinances, and refused to ‘live’ by My statutes, and violated My Sabbaths, because they were determined to follow their idols. 17 But I saw fit to spare them, and I didn’t destroy them, and held back from destroying them in the wilderness.
18 Then in the wilderness I warned their children not to live by the statutes of their ancestors, or obey their ordinances, or defile themselves with their idols. 19 I am Yehovah your Elohim. Follow My statutes. Obey My ordinances, and practice them. 20 Keep My Sabbaths kadosh, and they’ll be a sign between Me and you, so that you’ll know for certain that I am Yehovah your Elohim.” 21 But the children rebelled against Me. They didn’t ‘live by’ My statutes, or obey My ordinances, tho a person who obeys them will live by them. They also violated My Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out My wrath on them, to end My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I withheld My hand, and acted for the sake of My ‘reputation’, so that it wouldn’t be dishonored in the sight of the nations, who had watched Me bring them out. 23 I ‘swore’ to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them into other countries, 24 because they hadn’t practiced My ordinances, they had rejected My statutes, and dishonored My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols.
Verses 33-44 describe the prophetic rebirth of the Kingdom of Israel—this time one nation under Yehovah! During the first exodus the census didn’t occur until the second year of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. On the second go around, when Israel is again in “the wilderness of the people”, I’d expect for a similar occurrence on the anniversary of the first census, on the first day of the second month. But not only will there be a census where the righteous “pass under the rod” when they are brought “into the bond of the Covenant” but “I’ll purge out from among you the rebels”.
33-44 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yehovah, I will rule you with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I’ll be your King. 34 I’ll bring you out of the nations and gather you out of the countries where you were scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35 I’ll bring you into the wilderness of the people [Isaiah 1, Hosea 2:14], and I’ll judge you there face to face, 36 just like when I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, that’s how I’ll judge you, says the Sovereign Yehovah. 37 I’ll make you pass under the shepherd’s rod, and I’ll bind you in a [Kimchi] [New] Covenant, 38 and I’ll purge out the rebels from among you, and those who disobey Me. I’ll bring them out of the land where they were living, but they won’t enter the land of Israel. Then you’ll know that I am Yehovah.
39 As for you, ‘nation’ of Israel, the Sovereign Yehovah says: Go, serve your idols, but later you’ll surely listen to Me, and you’ll no longer profane My name with your gifts and your idols. 40 On My kadosh mountain, on the high mountain of Israel, says the Sovereign Yehovah, there the entire ‘nation’ of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land. I will accept them there, and there I will require your contributions, and choice gifts, with all your kadosh things. 41 I’ll accept you there like a fragrant aroma when I gather you out of the nations, and bring you out of the countries where you’ve been scattered, and I’ll prove Myself kadosh thru you as the nations watch. 42 You’ll know that I am Yehovah when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country that I swore to give to your ancestors. 43 There you’ll remember your conduct, and everything you did, and how you defiled yourselves, and you’ll despise yourselves when you face all the evil you’ve done. 44 You’ll know that I am Yehovah, when I’ve dealt with you for the sake of My name, rather than with regard to your evil and corrupt behavior, ‘nation’ of Israel, says the Sovereign Yehovah.”
As is so often the case, the prophetic chapters begin with bad news and end up on a positive note. This chapter begins with the destruction of ancient Israel and then fast forwards to “the time ... of the end”.
8-12 The Word of Yehovah came to me. He said, 9 “Human son, prophesy that this is what Yehovah says: A sword, a sword, it’s sharpened, and polished. 10 It’s sharpened for slaughter, it’s polished to flash like lightning! Now will you rejoice? It [Babylon] condemns the scepter of My son [Judah] as every other tree [nation]. 11 It’s given to be polished, so that it can be handled, the sword, it’s sharpened, yes, it’s polished, to be put into the hand of the killer. 12 Cry and wail, human son, because it’s on My people, it’s on all the leaders of Israel, they are delivered over to the sword with My people, strike yourself on your thigh.
Here is a reference to of the wicked end time (British) Prince of Israel who will be stripped of his throne. A web search of “overturn, overturn, overturn it” turns up some fascinating articles about King David’s throne being preserved for Yeshua (Jesus)— “until He comes whose right it is”.
25-29 You, deadly wounded wicked one, the leader of Israel, whose day has come, in the time of the wickedness of the end. 26 This is what the Sovereign Yehovah says: Remove your turban, and take off your crown. Things are about to change. Elevate what is low, and bring down what is high. 27 I’ll overturn, overturn, overturn it, this also will be no more, until He comes whose right it is [Yeshua], and I’ll give it to Him.
28 You, human son, prophesy, and say, the Sovereign Yehovah says concerning the ‘land’ of Ammon, and concerning their reproach, and say: “A sword, a sword is drawn, because the slaughter it’s polished, to cause it to devour, that it can be as lightning, 29 while they see for you false visions, while they divine lies to you, to lay you on the necks of the wicked who are deadly wounded, whose day has come in the time of the wickedness of the end.
This chapter begins by listing a whole dirty laundry list of sins. By verse 15 we again see the diaspora of Israel. Yet beginning in verse 19, Israel is being gathered into Jerusalem. This is not the much anticipated regathering of the tribes. It could be a reference to ancient Israel or it could be referring to the same event that Zechariah 14:2 foretold: “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle....” But judging from the context, this chapter describes both the first diaspora as well as the coming one. The rest of the chapter goes on to explain more of the reasons for the destruction of Israel. There is not a single leader who was/is capable of standing “in the gap” to cause Israel to repent and cause Yehovah to reconsider saving Israel from destruction.
15...31 I’ll scatter you among the nations, and disperse you thru the countries, and I’ll consume your filthiness out of you. 16 You’ll be profaned in yourself, in the sight of the nations, and you’ll know that I am Yehovah.... 19 So the Sovereign Yehovah says, “Because you’ve all become dross, so, look, I’ll gather you into the center of Jerusalem. 20 People gather silver and brass and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow fire on it in order to melt it. And that’s how I’ll gather you in My anger and in My fury, and lay you there, and melt you. ... 25 There is a conspiracy among her prophets, like a roaring lion ravening the plunder, they’ve devoured lives, they take treasure and precious things, they’ve made many widows there. 26 Her priests have done violence to My Torah, and have profaned My kadosh things, they’ve made no distinction between the kadosh and the common, nor have they caused people to discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I’m profaned among them. 27 Her leaders there are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets have whitewashed their deeds, seeing false visions, and divining lies. They say, “The Sovereign Yehovah says.” “When Yehovah hasn’t spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, yes, they’ve troubled the poor and needy, and have oppressed the foreigner wrongfully. 30 I looked for a man among them, who could build up the wall, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So have I poured out My anger on them, I’ve consumed them with My fiery wrath, their own way have I brought on their heads, declares the Sovereign Yehovah.”
This entire chapter is about the destruction of the northern 10 tribes of Israel followed by the southern kingdom of Judah. Somewhat allegorically, these two sister kingdoms are portrayed as youthful virgins turned prostitutes. The entire text details the northern kingdom—“Oholah’s” wicked ways that led to her destruction followed by “Oholibah’s” lewdness and prostitution that caused her impending doom. The opening commentary in my Bible for the book of Ezekiel says that Ezekiel was “carried to Babylon before the final assault on Jerusalem; Ezekiel uses prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols to dramatize Yehovah’s message to His exiled people”. This account describes Yehovah’s people Israel as a people who had become increasingly steeped in sexual immorality—not just personally tho, it is political adultery (alliances) with the nations that will later destroy them. It all seems to refer to ancient history until verse 43 when we see an Israel that is “old in adulteries”. This is Yehovah’s estranged people at a much later “stage of life”. These prostitutes, now old, are to be conquered again by armies serving as Yehovah’s judges: “I will bring up a company against them, and will allow them to be tossed back and forth and robbed.” Deja vu all over again! While these pagan invaders are not really virtuous, they are still righteous compared to Jewish/Christian Israel! “Righteous men will judge them”. Righteousness is relative.
43-49 Then I said of her who was worn out by adultery, ‘Now they will continue to use her as a whore, and she with them.’ 44 They went in to her, as they go in to a whore, so went they in to Oholah and to Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 Righteous men, they’ll judge them with the judgment of adulteresses, and with the judgment of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and their hands are bloody. 46 The Sovereign Yehovah says, “I’ll bring up a company against them, and allow them to be tossed back and forth and robbed. 47 The company will stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords. They’ll kill their sons and their daughters, and burn down their houses with fire. 48 This is how I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, so that all women can be taught not to be lewd like you. 49 They’ll compensate your lewdness on you, and you’ll bear the sins of your idols, and you’ll know that I am the Sovereign Yehovah.
Chapter 23 is The Beast of 2015