At that point, I’m sure Ezekiel thought his job was done. He had tried to warn his people and get them on the same page as God. He had remained faithful as God’s Watchman (Ek 3:16-27). He had gone through a lot of hardship to remain faithful as a watchman. He even had to endure the death of his wife as a topical lesson for his people (E24:17-18). You can sympathize, right? After a long hard day, or particular physically demanding or mentally draining job, you are exhausted and just want to rest and rejuvenate. That is how Ezekiel felt, I’m sure. But, God had other plans for him.
God reminds Ezekiel that even though Jerusalem has fallen, he still has the duty of a Watchman (Ek 33:7). Ezekiel’s task is to now tell Israel that God does not delight in their destruction but desires for them to repent (Ek 33:11). An escapee from the destruction of Jerusalem came and told the people there in captivity that Jerusalem had fallen. At that time, God allowed Ezekiel to speak again (Ek 33:21-22). God had made him mute for almost two years—ever since Nebuchadnezzar had besieged Jerusalem. Can you imagine what the people thought of Ezekiel during this time? Maybe many thought it served him right to be mute. God had finally shut him up because of his unpatriotic sayings. Are we any different in being too quick to judge rather than allowing a disconcerting message to penetrate our hearts and allow God to see if there are any seeds of wickedness in us?
The people were now mad because God had allowed this destruction to happen. They had the misconception that the land was theirs—God had given it to them, and they felt God had no right to take it away. Yet, God, through Ezekiel, told them all the destruction was due to their disobedience (Ek 33:25-16). It seems people are people no matter in what time they live. Are we any different? We always have excuses for our behavior: it is never as bad as others claim, we have a justification for what we do, and we feel what we do is not really that bad after all. These people felt no differently.
As their watchman, Ezekiel kept to his task. He accused the shepherds of Israel, their leaders (kings, princes, priests, and false prophets) of looking out only for themselves rather than the needs of their people (Ek 34:2-4). This is one of the pitfalls of lifelong service that someone in such a position must be aware. Since this is now their job, their livelihood, and not just a short-term profession, they have to temper their desire for ambition, wealth, and prosperity for their family. While it is not wrong to have these things, they have a higher responsibility to the people for whom they serve. It’s often too easy to lose sight of that fact. These leaders in Ezekiel’s day had done that. They had lost sight of their greater responsibility. Ezekiel tried to get them to see that. He warned them that God would remove them from leadership (Ek 34:10).
To better help them understand, Ezekiel gave an analogy of a coming Good Shepherd who will take good care of his people (Ek 34:12). Ezekiel turns to a future time, a time we refer to as the Millennial Kingdom, where God will gather his people from every distant land (Ek 35:12-13). He will judge between the goats and the sheep (i.e., between the righteous and the unrighteous), between one sheep and another (the act of receiving rewards), and he will shepherd them with justice (this may be referring to his ruling with an iron scepter (Rv 2:27)) (Ek 35:20-22). Their Good Shepherd, their Messiah, will make David their shepherd and their prince (Ek 35:24). This is likely referring to David’s position in relation to Christ, their Messiah. David will be subservient to him. In addition, the land will be made to be fruitful to meet all their nutritional needs, they will live in safety without the threat of war, and he will be their God (Ek 35:25-31).
Ezekiel then restates the prophecy against Edom (Ek 35). This was to contrast the choices made by Jacob and Esau, the ancestors of Israel and Edom. God used Esau (Edom) as a topical lesson as to what Israel could be like, but how God is going to instead reward Israel. This was not because of Israel’s goodness, but because of God’s goodness and how he will keep his promises to them.
In contrast to what God said about Edom, he would give great blessings to Israel: mountains, hills, rivers, valleys, and cities will become fruitful and prosperous (Ek 36:4, 8, 10). Yet, he reminds them that God will do this for his own Name sake (Ek 36:22) and not because of anything they have done. Despite what Israel had done in profaning God to the surrounding nations, God would make his Name great and holy again (Ek 36:23). God’s plan will not be rescinded because of what mankind does. God would do this by taking Israel and cleansing her and putting his Spirit within her (Ek 36:26-27). This was a new concept for them. The Holy Spirit will come upon them and they will seek him and morn for their actions toward him (Zc 12:10).
This is also our promise from God, both now and for our future. If you turn to him, realize his death on the cross was payment for your sin (past , present, and future), accept that and realize nothing you can do can earn this for you except depending upon him completely both now and for your future, you too will receive the Holy Spirit to guide you on your journey through this life. Then, in the life to come you will receive all these blessing that God promised to his people through Ezekiel. Isn’t it exciting?! Come join us. You’ll be glad you did!
Prophecy Through Feasts of Israel
Fingerprint of God – Part 1
Burnt Offering Application