|Ezekiel 12:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying|
the word of the LORD came to me 46/57 occurrences of this phrase occur in Ezekiel and five are in chapter 12. Remember that Ezekiel is in essence "mute" (his continual state the first 7-8 years) unless he has a specific word from the LORD which explains to some degree the concentration of the phrase in this particular book. Also remember that Ezekiel is still in exile in Babylon prophesying prior to the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
As Richards says
Expositor's Bible Commentary notes that
The date of Ezekiel's prophecy in this chapter cannot be stated with absolute certainty, but as Ezekiel generally presents a chronological record, the date is almost certainly between the sixth month of the sixth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, circa 592, ("It came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell on me there." Ezek 8:1) and the fifth month of the seventh year, circa 591 ("Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me." Ezek 20:1).
Adam Clarke appears to be correct in his comment that
J Vernon McGee sets the context writing that
God used Ezekiel's actions as a sign to Israel of what was about to happen. As discussed below, the revealed future hopefully might cause some of the listeners to repent. God's symbolic portrayal of Israel's exile was designed to stun and awaken them to the reality of judgment and God's desire for them to repent and return. God gave similar unusual instructions to Jeremiah to buy a field in Anathoth (near Jerusalem) (Jer 32:6-15), a command that at first glance was somewhat "bizarre" in view of Judah’s imminent loss of its land to Babylon within less than a year of Jeremiah's purchase date. (see Jeremiah 39, 40, 52). .
|Ezekiel 12:2 "Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear for they are a rebellious house.|
|K&D: Son of man, thou dwellest amidst the refractory generation, who have eyes to see, and see not; and have ears to hear, and hear not; for they are a refractory generation.
Brenton: Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of the iniquities of those, who have eyes to see, and see not; and have ears to hear, and hear not: because it is a provoking house (English translation of Greek Septuagint)
You live in the midst of the rebellious house (Ezek 2:3,6-8; 3:9,26,27; 17:12; 24:3; 44:6; Dt 9:7,24; 31:27; Ps78:40; Is1:23; 30:1,9; 65:2; Je4:17; 5:23; 9:1-6; Da9:5-9; Ac7:51,52) God wastes no time in reminding Ezekiel that he lived right in the middle (that is literally what the Hebrew word pictures) a house of rebels who had been been watching his symbolic acts and hearing his judgment oracles for over a year. Regrettably, this rebellious attitude had characterized Israel's history.
The Greek Septuagint (LXX) phrases it slightly different stating that Ezekiel
Expositor's Bible Commentary adds that
"Eyes to see but do not see" (Dt29:4; Is6:9,10; 29:9, 10, 11, 12; 42:19,20; Je5:21; Mt13:13,14; Mk4:12; 8:17,18; Lk 8:10; Jn9:39-41; 12:40; Ac28:26,27; Ro11:7,8; 2Co3:14; 4:3,4; Ep4:18; 2Th2:10,11) indicates that they failed to comprehend what they saw, which clearly indicates that they had a spiritual problem. They had heard the truth about the consequences of disobedience many times before, but their unregenerate (spiritually uncircumcised) heart invariably twisted or rejected that truth. Thus the exiles rejected all the signs and sermons from Ezekiel that prophesied the impending destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. The fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722BC should have been a lesson in the consequences of national sin but neither the exiles or those remaining in Judah learned their lesson.
How much like Judah we all have been at times… we know what we are doing is a clear violation of God's law and that it has reaped consequences in our life or other people's lives and yet we stubbornly continue in that destructive behavior or attitude! How we all need to remember rebellious Judah's example and that "these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1Cor10:11, cf 10:6)
Richards notes that
"For they are a rebellious house" The Hebrew word for rebellious (meriy from marah = be bitter, rebel against; click to study the 14/22 occurrences of meriy are in Ezekiel) describes a hard hearted attitude which reserves the right to make the final decision regarding one's life independent of any authority. Sin is conscious, obstinate rebellion against the known will of God. It is an attitude manifest by actions which are consciously flung in the face of a holy and righteous God. God says that the whole "house" (Ezekiel and Jeremiah being some of the few exceptions) was rebellious. In the Septuagint, the Greek word (parapikraino from pará = to the point of + pikraíno = to embitter) used to translate "rebellious" means to continually (the verb is present tense = habitual action) provoke or exasperate. Israel and Judah were continually provoking the LORD (the only NT use of parapikraino is found in Heb3:16 where the writer asks the rhetorical question
Matthew Henry writes that God had to give the message first visually and then verbally to the exiles
Why was Israel spiritually blind? The LORD explains (note the use of the word "for" which is usually a clue that what follows explains the preceding section) that their spiritual blindness was a consequence of their rebellion which denied God's right to rule in their heart. People in our day demonstrate the same rebellious tendencies in their hearts and in their actions. But both then and now, rebellion against God reaps consequences, paying out bad "dividends". One way or another, people who "despise wisdom and instruction" (Pr1:7) always pay a high price.
Are you suffering from choices you've made that have grieved your heavenly Father?" God can use those consequences for your eternal welfare. Humble yourself and return to Him today! The way back to God begins with a broken heart which sees our sin as God sees it.
The psalmist amplifies on why Israel was spiritually blind and deaf. In psalm 115 he describes an idol as something that "… they have eyes, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear… ." (Ps115:5, 6)
Then the psalmist describes the effect of idolatry on the idolater writing that "Those who make them will become like them. Everyone who trusts in them." (Ps115:8)
We know from other passages that Israel clearly was guilty of gross idolatry (eg Ezek 6 mentions idols five times). And thus it should be no surprise that the exiles have eyes but cannot see and ears but cannot hear spiritual truth.
Dearly beloved, are you "toying with idolatry"? Idols come in many different shapes and sizes in our modern world and yet anything that is repetitively coming between you and God is your "idol". So let me ask again: are you worshipping any idol. In John's second epistle he gave a stern warning in the from of an urgent (aorist imperative) command:
"Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (1Jn5:21)
Beware of idolatry for it "blinds" us to spiritual truth.
Jameison, Fausset, Brown has an interesting comment regarding the fact that the rebellious nature of Jewish exiles is reemphasized once again (Hebrew word for "rebellious" was used 7x in the first 3 chapters and last used in Ezek 3:27). They suggest that
Let's Apply this truth: When people become spiritually blind and deaf, God may use unusual means to get their attention and to get His Word to them. God will probably not ask most of us to carry out such bizarre acts as Ezekiel was commanded to perform, but there is an important practical question we must all ask ourselves: Can others tell by my life-style that I really believe Jesus is coming again to judge the world in righteousness. Peter reminds us that
Remembering that you were created for eternity and that your life on earth is a temporary assignment should radically alter what you value as important and where you spend your time. Am I living my life with the conscious, constant awareness that I am a "sermon" to those around me who are spiritually blind to God’s truth? You may be the only "Bible" someone else ever reads. What do they say about your Jesus and His gospel from reading your "Bible"?
Cooper adds that
Ezekiel 12: 3 "Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; even go into exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand though they are a rebellious house.
|Amp: Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for removing and going into exile, and move out by day in their sight; and you shall remove from your place to another place in their sight. It may be they will consider and perceive that they are a rebellious house.
BBE: And you, O son of man, by day, before their eyes, get ready the vessels of one who is taken away, and go away from your place to another place before their eyes: it may be that they will see, though they are an uncontrolled people.
"Prepare for yourself baggage" (Ezek 12:10, 11, 12; 4:1-17; Je13:1-11; 18:2-12; 19:1-15; 27:2) God's servants must be ready to respond to whatever God tells them to do, even though it may not "make much sense" at the time. In these next five verses God gives Ezekiel at least 10 commands.
The Septuagint translates "exile" uses a Greek word which means to be taken into captivity by spear point clearly implying that this is to be exile related to military captivity.
"In their sight" (Septuagint translates the Hebrew with Greek enopion meaning "face to face") is a key phrase in this chapter, mentioned 6 times in these first 7 verses. Do you see the paradox? Ezekiel was to act out this drama in the sight of those who did not have eyes to see with the hope that they would open their eyes to see the underlying spiritual truth! The exiles for whom Ezekiel performed this drama had experienced captivity and exile themselves either in 605 b.c. or in 597 b.c. Therefore it follows that they should be able to recognize what Ezekiel was acting out, but as we see in Ezek 12:8, they fail to understand what he is doing.
Jehovah's declaration "Perhaps they will understand" clearly reflects His longsuffering and lovingkindness toward His unfaithful "wife" Israel (Jer2:2, 3:1, 31:32). God's "ulterior motive" for Ezekiel's strange actions was to hold out His hand of grace in hope that the rebels might come to their senses (2Ti2:25, 26-note), see the error of their ways, repent and return to Him. In Jeremiah God instructs the prophet to record in one volume all the messages since the outset of Jeremiah’s ministry in 627BC. (Jer 1:2) up to 605/604BC, to be read to the people in the temple so that
In Ezekiel 33 God instructs Ezekiel to
In Jeremiah God says
God's heart of lovingkindness is also seen in Deuteronomy where He says
And in the Psalms God says
"Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!" (Ps81:13)
Craigie refers to this "perhaps… " clause as
He goes on to add that…
Jeremiah records a similar description, stating
Why would God go to such lengths (visual drama vv3-6 followed by a verbal explanation in vv8-16) to describe the fate of King Zedekiah to the exiles who are not even in Jerusalem? As noted in vv15-16, the over arching goal is clearly that all "might know that I am the LORD". But it is reasonable to speculate that as long as Zedekiah was upon the throne in Jerusalem, the exiles could flatter themselves with the vain hope that he might sign a peace accord or somehow otherwise reconcile with Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah, instead of being their deliverer, would very shortly be their fellow-suffer according to the sign and sermon by Ezekiel. In addition since there had been no fulfillment of Ezekiel's doom and gloom predictions given over the previous 2 years, the exiles would have reasoned that there was an increasing likelihood that they would experience an early return to Jerusalem (see Ezek 12:21, 22, 23 24 25).
John MacArthur agrees adding that
|Ezekiel 12:4 "Bring your baggage out by day in their sight, as baggage for exile. Then you will go out at evening in their sight, as those going into exile.|
"In their sight" (Ezek 12:12; 2Ki25:4; Je39:4; 52:7) God wants the exiles to see the message, but since they fail to perceive the meaning it is followed below with the verbal version. In the Septuagint the Greek word enopion translates the Hebrew phrase "in their sight" and is placed first in the Greek for emphasis (also first in Ezek 12:5). They will have no excuse for their rebellion, especially when they see Ezekiel's prophecies come to pass exactly as he predicted. They will know and understand that it is the hand of God. Will some of the exiles repent? Scripture is silent except as it says above "perhaps".
"Go out at evening" when the conditions would maximize the chances of escape. This detail was fulfilled to the letter Jeremiah recording that the king and his men of war "fled and went out of the city at night". (Jer 39:4)
|Ezekiel 12:5 "Dig a hole through the wall in their sight and go out through it.|
"Dig a hole through the wall" What could this action symbolize? This prophetic detail alludes to the fact that the city of Jerusalem was encircled and under siege so that the usual routes of escape would be so heavily guarded by the Babylonians that no one dare traverse them. Instead, one must by select a less obvious escape route, here depicted by digging a hole through the wall.
|Ezekiel 12:6 "Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark. You shall cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have set you as a sign to the house of Israel."|
"Load the baggage" the baggage of exile must have brought up painful reminders of to all the exiles of the day they were carried away from them homeland and should have shook them out of their spiritual doldrums but it did not have this effect.
"You shall cover your face so that you cannot see the land" (1Sa28:8; 2Sa15:30) There were occasions when the face was covered in mourning or shame, but those Scriptural allusions use a different Hebrew verb than the one used here. Most scholars agree that Ezekiel's action of covering his face so that he could not see the land (the land he was in at that time was Babylon) predicted the blinding of Zedekiah who then would never be able to see the land of Babylon. Jeremiah records that Nebuchadnezzar "blinded Zedekiah's eyes and bound him in fetters of bronze to bring him to Babylon" (Jer39:7) fulfilling Ezekiel's prediction.
"For I have set you as a sign" (Ezek 12:11; 4:3; 24:24; Is 8:18; 20:2-4) By performing the specific actions, Ezekiel became the message pointing the way. In a similar way the actions of believers today constitute the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What message are you giving out?
The Septuagint (LXX) translates "sign" with the Greek word (teras) which means something that astounds because of transcendent association and thus was a portent (something foreshadowing a coming event or a prophetic indication) or an omen. In secular Greek teras was used of terrifying portents caused by a divinity that foretell the destructive results! This word is derived from a verb meaning to watch and thus connotes that which due to its extraordinary character is apt to be observed and kept in the memory or regarded as startling, imposing or amazing. The idea is that which compel one's attention. God would make sure that Ezekiel's actions got the exile's attention.
|Ezekiel 12:7 I did so, as I had been commanded. By day I brought out my baggage like the baggage of an exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands; I went out in the dark and carried the baggage on my shoulder in their sight.|
I did so as I had been commanded (Je32:8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Mt 21:6,7; Mk14:16; Jn 2:5, 6, 7, 8; Acts 26:19) Repeatedly we see the Ezekiel unhesitating obedience of Ezekiel to do as commanded, no matter what was involved (Ezek 24:18; 37:7,10). Oh, that all God's children had such obedient hearts. Jesus said
Are you a friend of Jesus?
"Went out in the dark" is translated in the Septuagint as "went out secretly (Greek = krupto = to hide, keep from being seen, keep secret; root of our English word "cryptic")". Ezekiel's actions were cryptic to the eyes of the bewildered exiles!
Stop for a moment and put yourself in Ezekiel's place. Can you imagine the reaction he must have encountered from the rebellious exiles… here he is, loaded down with baggage, digging through the mud brick wall and then walking out, headed covered, disappearing into the dark night? The exiles would have the evening to reflect on Ezekiel’s latest "dramatic antic". Surely they must have wondered what he was up to now. Remember, that by now the exiles probably were not surprised by his bizarre behavior. But what did this charade mean? In the next section God opens the prophet's mouth to satisfy the curiosity of the exiles.
The fact that Ezekiel's prophesy is given in two stages (visual, then verbal) would have compelled the exiled viewers (stage 1) to reflect on the interpretation before confronted with the verbal explanation (stage 2) the next day. Quite likely the most obvious interpretation to the spiritually dulled exiles who were surviving on (vain) hope would have been that the exile was about to end! They may have reasoned that just as Ezekiel packed and left, so too would they soon leave, setting out again on the road to Jerusalem. Their empty hope however would be dashed, as Ezekiel declared the true meaning the next day.
Matthew Henry adds that
|"In the morning" suggests that this explanation of the dramatic events occurred on the very next day.
Parenthetically, we should note that if Ezekiel had balked the preceding day and failed to do "as… commanded" (v7), it is not likely that he would have heard a word from the LORD the next morning. Obedience always brings blessing. John echoes this principle recording Jesus' words that
What instruction has God given you that you need to obey, so that you might enjoy the blessing of an ever increasing awareness of His presence?
Expositor's Bible Commentary comments that
|Ezekiel 12:9 "Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, 'What are you doing?'|
|TLB “Son of dust, these rebels, the people of Israel, have asked what all this means.|
The rebellious house (Ezek 2:5, 6, 7, 8) God once again reminds Ezekiel of Israel's rebellious nature, which explains why they failed to comprehend what Ezekiel's actions signified.
This ("What are you doing?" Ezek 17:12; 20:49; 24:19) is actually the book’s first indication of the people’s response to Ezekiel’s symbolic acts and it indicates the exiles did in fact see Ezekiel's actions although they failed to understand the spiritual implications. Since all the exiles had participated in a deportation themselves (either in 605bc or 597bc), they should have understood. The sovereign LORD instructs Ezekiel to explain the events to those who did not have ears to hear. Ezekiel had obediently carried out his role as a watchman (Ezek 3:17, 33:2,6, 7) and he was not accountable for their blood.
|Ezekiel 12:10 "Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem as well as all the house of Israel who are in it."'|
|Brenton: Say to them, Thus saith the Lord God, the Prince and the Ruler in Israel, even to all the house of Israel who are in the midst of them
NET: Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This prophetic oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel within it.’
Remember that Ezekiel's mouth is still stopped and he is not to speak to the exiles unless God tells him. Thus "Say to them… " is Ezekiel's clue that God is opening his mouth, giving him the means and the message to speak. This is a good pattern for all God's "watchmen" to follow.
"This burden" (prophetic oracle) (Hebrew masa') (2Ki 9:25; Is 13:1; 14:28; Mal1:1) can mean a load that is carried about, but in the present context refers to an oracle or a pronouncement, and specifically to a prophetic utterance with the focus being on the content of the prophesy.
"The prince in Jerusalem" (Ezek 7:27; 17:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 21:25, 26, 27; Je21:7; 24:8; 38:18) is a reference to Zedekiah who the ruler of Judah as Ezekiel prophesied and was the third son of Josiah to sit on the throne and the last ruler of Judah. Ezekiel does not use the Hebrew term melek for "king". The Septuagint concurs, translating "prince" with the Greek word archon, meaning one in a position of eminence, ruling capacity or leadership, especially referring to civic leadership.
John MacArthur observes that
|Ezekiel 12:11 "Say, 'I am a sign to you. As I have done, so it will be done to them; they will go into exile, into captivity.'|
I am a sign indicates Ezekiel and his dramatic actions was to the exiles the discernible indication of what was not itself directly perceptible by their senses or reason.
Matthew Henry explaining the need for a sign for rebellious Israel (and for all who are rebellious) reasons that
So it will done to them" Who is them? In context, them refers to King Zedekiah and his court officials. (see note above)
"Exile into captivity" (Je15:2; 52:15,28-30) can also be translated "captive into captivity". While exile can be voluntary, Zedekiah's exile is forced for the second Hebrew word translated "captivity"
|Ezekiel 12:12 "The prince who is among them will load his baggage on his shoulder in the dark and go out. They will dig a hole through the wall to bring it out. He will cover his face so * that he can not see the land with his eyes.|
"He will cover His face" (Ezek 12:6; 2 Ki25:4; Je39:4; 42:7) reflects Zedekiah's attempt to minimize his recognition and maximize his chances of escape. Although the context is much different, President George W Bush left his ranch at Crawford, Texas in the dead of night with a baseball cap pulled over his head to minimize recognition and maximize the chances that he would be able to carry out a surprise visit to the American troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003. His mission succeeded whereas Zedekiah's attempt failed. Why did it fail? Because God said it would fail and God's Word never fails! Ezekiel's prophecy delivered 5 years before Jerusalem fell, came to pass exactly as had been predicted.
As discussed in Ezek 12:6, Cooper agrees that the
|Ezekiel 12:13 "I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there.|
"I will spread My net… he will be caught in My snare… I will bring him to Babylon" (2Ki 25:5, 6, 7; Je34:3; 39:7; 52:8, 9, 10, 11)
This is the LORD speaking declaring in the first person that He Himself will carry out the capture and exile of King Zedekiah. And yet we know from the Scriptures noted earlier (click here) that Babylon carries out the plan and purpose of God. God is completely sovereign. Jeremiah illustrates Jehovah's sovereignty over earthly "sovereigns" in his prophesy of God
The point is that God may use any tool He wants to accomplish His purposes on earth (Ro 9:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23-notes).
Net (Hebrew =reset) (Ezek 17:16,20; 19:8,9; 32:3; Job19:6; Ps 11:6; Is24:17,18; Je 50:24; La 3:47; 4:19,20; Luke 21:35) describes the
The IVP Background Commentary adds that
Adam Clarke has an interesting comment on "net" writing that it may be a
Allen writes that
"I will bring him to Babylon… yet he will not see it though he will die there" describes a prophecy fulfilled to the letter. Scripture records that Zedekiah was captured by Nebuchadnezzar who passed sentence and
The practice of gouging out a prisoner’s eyes appears in the Assyrian Annals of Ashurnasirpal II in the ninth century and those of Sargon II in the eighth century. This was simply one of several terror tactics employed to frighten and humiliate their enemies.
Speaking between 592 and 591 bc, Ezekiel predicted the deportation of Jerusalem’s population to Babylon about 5 years later, and prophesied exactly what would happen to Zedekiah. This detailed fulfillment of prophecy should encourage every saint and cause every sinner to tremble. (see devotional below) In Isaiah God asks
The land of the Chaldeans The IVP Background Commentary says that
The Value of Prophecy - Some people believe that the Bible is merely a haphazard collection of ancient writings. But we have good reason to believe it is God's inspired Word. For example, the Bible contains prophecies that have been fulfilled. Centuries before specific events took place, the writers of Scripture predicted their occurrence, and in the course of time those events came to pass. No matter how farsighted we may be, we cannot foretell the future with any precision. Indeed, our best guesses often turn out to be wrong. Here are some examples:
"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." Who said that? A renowned professor of military strategy. "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." This pronouncement was made by a distinguished economist just before the financial crash of 1929. The Bible, however, is filled with dramatic examples of fulfilled prophecy. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22:1-18 record details about the crucifixion of Christ hundreds of years before this cruel form of execution was ever practiced. When we pick up the Bible, we can rest assured that we are holding in our hands the one authoritative divine revelation of truth—a claim verified by fulfilled prophecy. —V C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
God's Word is always true;
So when my faith grows dim,
I look into His Word
And trust my life to Him. —Hess
You can trust the Bible—God always keeps His word.
|Ezekiel 12:14 "I will scatter to every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will draw out a sword after them.|
"I will scatter… all who are around him". Note Who performs the "scattering". In context "him" refers to Zedekiah and those around would be his body guards. Jeremiah records that when
He goes on to add that
Thus we see a detailed fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy.
To every wind probably alludes to the four winds and so to every corner of the world, north, south, east and west.
Allen comments that Zedekiah's
"I will draw a sword after them" (Ezek 5:2,12; 14:17,21; Lv 26:33; Je 42:16,22) is similar to Ezekiel's earlier prophecy that
|Ezekiel 12:15 "So they will know that I am the LORD WHEN I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries.|
|NIV: "They will know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries.
NLT: And when I scatter them among the nations, they will know that I am the LORD.
|"When… " is an important time phrase. The Jews of Jerusalem and the exiles would know for certain that God is the LORD after His judgment had fallen. In the same way, every human being will acknowledge that God is the LORD—willingly, or unwillingly.
"I scatter them among the nations" (Ezek 12:16,20; 5:13; 6:7,14; 7:4; 11:10; 24:27; 25:11; 26:6; 28:26; 33:33; 39:28; Ez14:18; Ps9:16) This great prophecy of the worldwide dispersion of the children of Israel by God Himself is given many times in the Bible.
Moses had warned Israel that the judgment for idolatry would be their dispersion among the Gentile nations declaring that
The remarkable fulfillment of the worldwide dispersion of the Jews over the last 2000 years is a testimony to the inerrant accuracy of the Bible and the assurance that in the latter days the Jews will return to the Lord, this period culminating in the time of Jacob's trouble or the great tribulation.
Note once again the frequent use of the Divine first person in this and the surrounding verses (Ezek 12:13, 14,15, 16). God is the righteous Judge Who personally executes the judgment against the rebellious house.
"and spread them… " is the Hebrew verb zarah which literally describes the stirring up of air to produce a scattering and spreading effect. The Greek verb is diaspeiro meaning to scatter abroad or disperse, and here prophesies a worldwide dispersion of the Jews. The picture inherent in the use of this verb is interesting as it was used to describe the cleansing of grain of chaff by the motion of wind.
Here in Ezekiel we see that God's chosen people require a purifying also, but it will be a chastening experience; hence the Lord is said, metaphorically, "to fan" His people ("And I will winnow them with a winnowing fork at the gates of the land. I will bereave them of children, I will destroy My people. (Why?) They did not repent of their ways" Jer15:7), with the result that they will be scattered as chaff to various distant places.
Moses warned this would happen if Israel forsook the covenant
Let's apply this truth: Note the crucial time phrase “when”. We can acknowledge Him now, in salvation. Or later, in judgment, when it is too late.
Paul reaffirms this truth declaring that Jesus
He is Lord. Now or later.
Allen writes that
|Ezekiel 12:16 "But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where * they go, and may know that I am the LORD."|
|Amp: But I will leave a few survivors who will escape the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, that they may declare and confess all their [idolatrous] abominations among the nations to which they go, and [thus God's punishment of them will be justified before everyone and] they shall know (understand and realize) that I am the Lord.|
|"But I will spare a few of them… " (leave a remnant) (14:22,23; Is1:9; 6:13; 10:22; 24:13; Je4:27; 30:11; Am9:8,9; Mt7:14; 24:22) reflects God's mercy and His faithfulness to His covenant promise to provide a Seed through Abraham.
Isaiah reminded his Jewish readers that
As discussed in depth in Ezekiel 6:8 the concept of the remnant is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testament. In Romans God confirms the certainty of a preserved remnant , declaring (quoting His response to Elijah)
The persistence of a Jewish remnant is living proof of the grace of God.
Note the two reasons why God says He will spare a few of the Jews (read the verse again to see His reasons).
Earlier God had promised
"That they may tell all their abomination among the nations" (Ezek 14:22,23; 36:31; Lv 26:40,41; Je 3:24,25; Da 9:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12), where nations is another name for the Gentiles, heathen, pagans or those who do not know the living God. Thus some of the surviving Jews were dispersed among foreign nations as witnesses that the nation was in exile because of their iniquity and not because of God’s lack of care or inability to defend them. The latter supposition would be a natural interpretation of Israel’s misfortune due to the common view in the ancient Near East of each nation having a patron deity.
"Abomination" means that which is loathed or abhorred and figuratively was used on occasion as a synonym for an idol (see Isa 44:19, 2Ki23:13), which is most likely as least part of the intended meaning in this verse.
The Hebrew word (caphar) for "tell" is interesting as it conveys the idea of taking account of something or of carefully observing and considering and then recounting it in detail to another. The point is that the dispersed Jews would provide a detailed account of why there were in dispersion (see the cross references below which expand on this truth)
In Deuteronomy we read that
Jehovah again warns King Solomon and the people declaring
Jeremiah warns those with ears that cannot hear again declaring that
Gill writes that the Gentiles upon
They… may know that I am the LORD Once again we see as so often throughout this book, that judgment has a goal, namely the creation of awareness in those that are judged “that I am the Lord” (Ezek 12:15, 16).
This judgment had a purpose for as God said earlier
It is sad that there is no report of repentance or revival among the exiles and thus it appears that as Craigie laments, they missed "the entire point of human existence"!