1The Lord's Spirit lifted me up and took me to the east gate of the temple, where I saw 25 men, including the two leaders, Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah. 2The Lord said, “Ezekiel, son of man, these men are making evil plans and giving dangerous advice to the people of Jerusalem. 3They say things like, ‘Let's build more houses. This city is like a cooking pot over a fire, and we are the meat, but at least the pot keeps us from being burned in the fire.’ 4So, Ezekiel, condemn them!”
5The Lord's Spirit took control of me and told me to tell these leaders:
I, the Lord God, know what you leaders are saying. 6You have murdered so many people that the city is filled with dead bodies! 7This city is indeed a cooking pot, but the bodies of those you killed are the meat. And so I will force you to leave Jerusalem, 8and I'll send armies to attack you, just as you fear. 9Then you will be captured and punished by foreign enemies. 10You will be killed in your own country, but not before you realize that I, the Lord, have done these things.
11You leaders claim to be meat in a cooking pot, but you won't be protected by this city. No, you will die at the border of Israel. 12You will realize that while you were following the laws of nearby nations, you were disobeying my laws and teachings. And I am the Lord!
13Before I finished speaking, Pelatiah dropped dead. I bowed down and cried out, “Please, Lord God, don't kill everyone left in Israel.”
A Promise of Hope
14The Lord replied:
15Ezekiel, son of man, the people living in Jerusalem claim that you and the other Israelites who were taken to Babylonia are too far away to worship me. They also claim that the land of Israel now belongs only to them. 16But here is what I want you to tell the Israelites in Babylonia:
It's true that I, the Lord God, have forced you out of your own country and made you live among foreign nations. But for now, I will be with you wherever you are, so that you can worship me. 17And someday, I will gather you from the nations where you are scattered and let you live in Israel again. 18When that happens, I want you to clear the land of all those idols I hate so much. 19 Then I will take away your stubbornness and make you eager to be completely faithful to me. You will want to obey me 20and all my laws and teachings. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 21But those who worship idols will be punished and get what they deserve. I, the Lord God, have spoken.
The Lord's Glory
22 After the Lord had finished speaking, the winged creatures spread their wings and flew into the air, and the wheels were beside them. The brightness of the Lord's glory above them 23left Jerusalem and stopped at a hill east of the city.
24Then in my vision, the Lord's Spirit lifted me up and carried me back to the other exiles in Babylonia. The vision faded away, 25and I told them everything the Lord had shown me.
As part of the vision (chs. 8-11), Ezekiel sees a group of twenty-five men. These men assume that they are the privileged ones who the Lord is preserving. They view themselves as “the choice meat in the cooking pot” (vv. 3, 11), in contrast to those who have already been taken into exile (v. 15).
As the visionary judgment that began in chapter 9 continues, one of the men known by Ezekiel dies (v. 13). In his anguish, Ezekiel pleads before God for those under the sentence of judgment (see also 9:8). What an intercessory heart Ezekiel has! When we see people suffering for wrongs they have committed, are our hearts broken on their behalf?
The divine response to Ezekiel’s question is two-fold. First he declares that the punishment is deserved (v 21; see also 9:9-10). But second, and more importantly, that the Lord’s ongoing relationship with his people and his future restorative work is no longer with those remaining in Jerusalem, but rather with those in exile (vv 16-20). The Lord is not bringing a complete end to his people. Rather the Lord is going to do a marvelous restorative work with those in exile. He will be with them so they can worship him (v 16) and he will return them to the land (v 17). They will do the spiritual restorative work of cleansing the land from idols (v 18). And the Lord will deal with the root issue, which is their need for an inner spiritual transformation. He will take away their stubbornness and give them a desire to live faithfully and obediently to him (v 19). The latter transformation reflects the basic need for all of us: we need to be inwardly changed so as live and serve God.
Lord, I know that your desire for me is to have a heart that is faithful to you and that desires to always do your will. Lord, implant within me that eagerness to love and serve you. And may I be always praying the same for my friends and family. Amen.