Morning Light – Ezekiel 5

Today: [Ezekiel 5] Ezekiel Gets a Haircut. In this chapter Ezekiel is instructed to cut his hair and beard to perform a prophetic act. Some of his hair is burned, some of it is further cut with a knife and some of it is cast to the wind. This all represents the fate of the people of Jerusalem in the aftermath of the Babylonian invasion. For us this is something more than sacred history. There is instruction for us that influences how we posture ourselves in the things of God to avoid experiencing like judgments as the hapless city of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judea.
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[Eze 5:1-17 KJV] 1 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause [it] to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the [hair]. 2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, [and] smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. 3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. 4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; [for] thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This [is] Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries [that are] round about her. 6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that [are] round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them. 7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that [are] round about you, [and] have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that [are] round about you; 8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, [am] against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. 9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. 10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. 11 Wherefore, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish [thee]; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity. 12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. 13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken [it] in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them. 14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that [are] round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. 15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that [are] round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken [it]. 16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for [their] destruction, [and] which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread: 17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken [it].
In chapter 5 of Ezekiel we again see the prophet acting out by God’s instruction a demonstration of God’s judgments regarding the city of Jerusalem. He is to cut his hair and his beard and divide the hair in thirds. One portion is to be burn in the fire, another portion he is to strike using a knife as a sword. The third portion he is to scatter to the wind. Then to complete the picture he is to take a few hairs and bind them up safely in his skirts, representing a small remnant of God’s people who will be spared.
In verse 5 the application to the city of Jerusalem is made plain by way of explanation. Jerusalem is seen or regarded by the Father as the centerpiece of the nations. At the crossroads of the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe the city has been raised up by the hand of God as a demonstration to the nations of the earth that God Himself is in command of the affairs of men. Verse 6 goes on to level the charge that though Jerusalem was a jeweled city in the hand of God the inhabitants thereof in God’s estimation had been more wicked in refusing the judgments and statutes by His hand than any of the nations round about her. It is important for Ezekiel to make this distinction because that was not the opinion of the captives by the river Chebar to whom these prophecies are addressed.
The reason why God sees Jerusalem in this light is because He had blessed and multiplied the city and been more directly involved with the city of Jerusalem than He had other nations. Therefore, the disobedience of the people and the refusal of the people to walk in the statutes of God were that much more egregious. Here is the idea of greater accountability introduced in terms of man’s relationship with God. It is one thing to be in darkness and transgress, but another to walk in the light of God’s favor and choose to turn the back to His statutes and commands. Lest we consign this concept of accountability to the Old Testament only, let us remember the words of Peter:
[2Pe 2:19-22 KJV] 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
It is a truth that there is an influence in Christian culture that regards the accountability of the world for its sins greater than the accountability of those in Christ for their responsibility to walk in obedience before God. Jesus taught specifically concerning this issue in the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 12:47-48 KJV] 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Much speculations has been made over what is meant that at the judgment seat of Christ where many think only reward is given, that some will be beaten with “many stripes” and some with few. The whole issue is twofold: 1.) knowledge; and 2.) accountability. Regardless whatever the lenient ideas of seeker sensitive theology regarding accountability and judgment the implication of these verses is difficult to ignore or escape. There is accountability in God. We are accountable to one another and we are accountable to God. Accountability includes the idea of recompense, either for good or for evil and it gives us pause to stop and consider the consequences, eternal consequences of our actions.
In verse 8 the Lord declares plainly that He is now against the rebellious city of Jerusalem and its idolatrous inhabitants. Again, we see the idea of cities being judged, as well as individuals and nations. What city has God called you to live in? Does it matter? Jesus spoke direct judgments over specific cities, particularly because He had made Himself known to them, but they had not repented:
[Mat 11:21-24 KJV] 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
In our day, there have been cities that have seen outpourings of God’s spirit in dramatic ways. Los Angeles saw the Azusa Street outpouring of Pentecost that changed the world. Pensacola and Brownsville saw the revival known by the names of those cities that altered the trajectory of the entire Assemblies of God denomination worldwide. The little town of Smithton, Missouri likewise saw a revival that had tremendous impact upon the nation. These cities bear a greater accountability before God, as the city of Jerusalem and the cities that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 11:
[Mat 11:21-24 KJV] 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Are you prepared to stand judgment with your city? These verses plainly show us that we will not only answer for ourselves but for our cities. Are you a part of the problem, or a part of the solution? There is no third choice. You are either influencing your city for the gospel or you are a part of the darkness encroaching the hearts of the people. This should galvanize us to action. However small the effort might be, there is something each one of us can and should do to be lights to the world, a city within the city, set on a hillside proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 11 speaks of the defiled sanctuary of God in the city of Jerusalem. What is the sanctuary? We are speaking of the temple. The scripture teaches us that our bodies are the temple, and the church is likewise the house of God where His Spirit dwells. The temple in Jerusalem was administered by a unified, monolithic priesthood. Can you imagine walking into the temple in Jerusalem and being accosted by priests from every corner of the temple saying “come over here and join us…” or, “come over here, this is where God is really blessing…” That is unthinkable. Yet the sanctuary of God in our cities carries itself in this way by dividing itself against itself with dozens of so called churches in the smallest of our cities, each vying for one another’s members. Throughout the book of Acts and the Epistles we see only the church in this city or that city and are warned that if we divide the house of God we have defiled the sanctuary just as the ancient Jews did in Ezekiel’s day.
Because of the transgressions of the people of God they are scattered and without regress in the midst of a hostile world. This in measure describes Christian culture under siege by secularism today. For all the majesty and glory of the vision of God that opens the book of Ezekiel we are sobered by the implications that the prophesies found in this book are not just history but admonition for us and it is in our highest and best interest to ponder them and ask the Father how best to apply their lessons in our lives.

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