Today: [Ezekiel 22] Jerusalem Becomes a Cauldron of Judgment. In ch. 22 of Ezekiel the prophet declares that the siege of the Chaldeans will be as a cauldron of motel metal to the people within the walls of Jerusalem. The people are to be as dross that will be exposed by great heat to be scattered to the winds among the nations. God had commanded them through Jeremiah to willingly surrender to the Babylonians, but because they refused they will now be compelled to obey by the hand of God.
[Eze 22:1-31 KJV] 1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations. 3 Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself. 4 Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come [even] unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries. 5 [Those that be] near, and [those that be] far from thee, shall mock thee, [which art] infamous [and] much vexed. 6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. 7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. 8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths. 9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. 10 In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. 11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD. 13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. 14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken [it], and will do [it]. 15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. 16 And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD.
In verse 1 of chapter 22 the Lord calls on Ezekiel to be willing to sit in judgment on Jerusalem, “the bloody city”. He is called upon to show the city all her abominations. This touches on a teaching of Jesus and the apostle Paul that doesn’t get much attention today. When Jesus was admonishing his disciples, He spoke to them about the place of judgment they would hold in eternity future:
[Mat 19:28 KJV] 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
This is also an example of a prophecy given by Jesus that will never come to pass, as given. Judas was among this group of disciples Jesus prophesied this over. Because he did not fulfill the conditions, this word will not come to pass and never will come to pass where Judas is concerned. Nonetheless you see that God apparently has made preparation for believers to sit in judgment at the end of the age. The apostle Paul spoke of this as well:
[1Co 6:1-2 KJV] 1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
What is the nature of the judgments Paul is speaking of? These are judgments by which men go to law to ask for equitable treatment by their fellow men. This is a different nature of judgment than Jesus warned about in Matt. 7:1 when He said, “judge not lest you be judged…” The judgment of Matt. 7:1 is about carrying in your heart an arbitrary opinion about your fellow man. The judgments in Matt. 19:28 and 1 Cor. 6:1-2 deal with spiritual warfare and adjudicating in the earth in behalf of the kingdom of God.
The city of Jerusalem is being judged in this chapter because of the innocent blood shed within her precincts and because of the rampant idolatry that has moved from secret, remote high places to the very center of the city and in the temple itself. What the people of Jerusalem considered simply being tolerant and cosmopolitan in their lifestyle God regarded (v. 8) as a despising of His holy things and a profaning of His Sabbaths. What about the Sabbath? Do we have any mandate from God regarding maintaining 1 day in 7 as a holy day? In the 10 commandments we say that prohibition against lying, stealing, murder and adultery apply under the New Covenant as well as the Old, yet Christian culture largely regards as passé considering any violation of the Sabbath as an actual trespass that could be considered a sin by a modern, Christian cultural standard. If someone commits adultery in our churches we take measures to exclude them. What about the brother or sister who works on the Sabbath? Well, we just understand, because that is the reality of earning a living in the modern day. This is an example of how the people of Jerusalem had become so blasé about the laws of God that they no longer identified as transgression what God Himself was deeply offended at.
17 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they [are] brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are [even] the dross of silver. 19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 [As] they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt [it]; so will I gather [you] in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave [you there], and melt you. 21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you. 23 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 24 Son of man, say unto her, Thou [art] the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation. 25 [There is] a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. 26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed [difference] between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in the midst thereof [are] like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, [and] to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. 28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered [morter], seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. 30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.
In verse 18 the Father explains the reasons for His judgments. He describes the house of Israel as being as dross, or impurities in silver that must be drawn off and removed by heating the metal till it is molten so that these contaminants rise to the top of the caldron and are skimmed off by the metallurgist. He is declaring that as a smith puts metal he is working with in the hottest part of the furnace, that He will now gather the people in the city of Jerusalem together (by the siege of Nebuchadnezzar during the reign of Zedekiah) in order to remove the people to the captivity He had previously commanded them to submit to but now will bring about by force.
This is a lesson for when we receive the word of the Lord and resist what we hear. God will have His way one way or the other. Originally the Father spoke through Jeremiah that the people should submit and go into captivity. The promise was if they prayed for the peace of the cities of their captivity that it would be well with them and that they would be brought back to Jerusalem to rebuild in due time. This indeed happened. The captives who did obey Jeremiah and willingly submit to Babylonian captivity were the parents of the generation of Jews who were allowed by Cyrus the great to return to build Jerusalem and the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah. Those who refused and rebelled were either destroyed or scattered throughout the nations as a vagabond people. Thus we see that what God wanted by design He will now have by compulsion. The resistance of the people to the word of Jeremiah and Ezekiel will only bring about more difficulty as Jesus Himself said to Paul “it is hard to kick against the pricks…”
This is something we should pay attention to. When we go our own way, or want to do things our way and it doesn’t work out we only have ourselves to blame. Many times, we ask God to take off of us pressures that were brought about by disobedience to His directives. We think that the troubles we might be facing are unfair and that God should do something about it but the first thing often that must happen is that we must turn from choosing our own way and listen to God and obey His voice. Many times, when I counsel people who are suffering and struggling in difficult circumstances, I will ask them what is the last thing that they KNOW God spoke to them. Often, it entails something that they did not cooperate with. Therefore, they must return to the place of obedience, even if it is no longer possible to bring about, and wait upon the Lord there, in humility and repentance, for fresh instruction.
The chapter goes on to speak against the prophets and the priests who by their actions were only making things worse for the people in Jerusalem. The city is about to fall under siege and the priests and the prophets are advising the king and the people that there will be nothing but peace, and things will get better whether they obey the word of the Lord by Jeremiah and Ezekiel or not. The prophets are described as “daubing with untampered mortar” to give the appearance of strength and stability when in reality the nation is about to fall.
In the midst of all the difficulty as the people feel victimized by the Chaldeans, the Father points out that they are still vexing the poor and the needy and oppressing their brothers and sisters with robbery and wrong practices. God takes it very personally when we neglect the poor, the widow and the orphan. The Levites were instructed in the law what amounted to 15.7 percent of their substance to the poor (which in reality they never carried out or obeyed). In the scripture, there is no precedent for God expecting government to take care of the needy. Entitlement programs in our day are one of the heaviest weights on our economy. This is an incitement of the church. In our day the government, and progressive liberalism has stepped up where the church has refused to go. In the judgment God will not ask the directors of social programs and government programs why the poor suffered in our nation – He will hold US accountable. We often leave it to the institutions of our society to do these things when it is in fact our undeniable responsibility. Every believer who is serious about their walk with God should be personally, actively and daily involved in giving to the needy in every way that is possible and practical.
In the closing words of the second prophetic word of this chapter the Lord declares through Ezekiel that He sought one man who would make up the hedge and stand in the gap to stay His hand of judgment. Here again is the message of the Law and the Old Testament. They need a savior. Jeremiah was prophesying and speaking the truth. Ezekiel was prophesying and saying what God commanded Him. It wasn’t enough. They need a savior, one who can stand in the gap and make up the hedge, and that man ultimately can only be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Paul affirmed in Galatians the law is our schoolmaster not to bring us to some expression of religious culture or spiritual mastery but to bring us helpless and impotent to solve our own problem, to bring us in surrender to Christ alone who can redeem us from ourselves and our sins.
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