Ezekiel receives a series of prophecies against Jerusalem and the Ammonites for their sins.
Ezekiel Chapter 21
Lessons from the test
God Will Judge Us All In this chapter, we see in blatant detail the harsh consequences of sin. God will utterly destroy the wicked; an unmerciful sword will consume the nation that turns from Him and speaks lies and vanities. This fact is not to be taken lightly. As a holy, righteous God, the Lord will judge all those who sin, be it a nation or an individual.
In psalm 111:10, David tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” He also writes that
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Ps. 19:9-11
These harsh judgments of God teach us to fear Him and respect His authority. They also reveal how holy and just God is. After all, how righteous would God be if He allowed murderers and thieves to rule nations without any reprimand? Throughout history, God has overturned rulers and nations as a warning that He will destroy all those who do wickedly. If we can recognize this, then we can rejoice in knowing that there is a judge who will ensure justice is enforced while at the same time having a healthy fear of that judge.
To be afraid of God simply means that you recognize that He has the authority to condemn you for your sins. Since all of us have sinned, we all could be thrown into hell for our wickedness (if you believe you are righteous, just consider how many time you have lied in your life). This is the source of the fear of the Lord; knowing that we are guilty before a righteous God, we also know that God has every right to throw us into hell. Yet, God also offers forgiveness; if you submit yourself to the judgments of God, He will judge you in righteousness. If you come with a broken heart truly sorry for your sins, then God will forgive you. In this sense, God’s judgment is sweeter than any honey. Yet if you never come seeking forgiveness, then condemnation is all you will receive.
Verse by Verse Commentary
The Jews should be mourning their condition, not making mirth.
1-2 In the previous chapter, God reasoned with the Jews. Now, He has left reasoning and is simply passing judgment. If one neglects the call to repentance, then one will face judgment.
3-4 God is judging the nation, not the individual. While the righteous deliver their souls from eternal judgment, God does not promise to deliver the righteous from physical harm. The righteous must endure the hardships of war, famine, and pestilence just like the wicked. This verse also shows that the righteous may suffer wrath from God while on this earth not for their own sins but for the sins of the nation in which they live, highlighting the point once more that righteousness delivers one from spiritual harm but makes to guarantees about deliverance from physical harm.
5 God’s actions are designed to be a witness to the world that He is real and that He is the ultimate authority.
6-7 Every Jew should be sighing and mourning over the tidings of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Filled with grief, they should be turning to God to ask for forgiveness and mercy so that their nation might be spared. The fact that Ezekiel has to sigh to get their attention demonstrates that they are not sighing or taking the prophecies against Jerusalem seriously. See Ezekiel 20:49.
8-11 God rebukes the carefree attitude of the people; He is warning of a time of war and destruction yet they are rejoicing in their current circumstance (making mirth). The people are so blinding by their sins that they are rejoicing despite the prophecies of coming war.
12 Like verse 6, Ezekiel is to mourn the coming destruction as a warning that the prophecies will soon be fulfilled.
13 God has repeatedly referred to the judgments against the Jews as a time of purging (Isa. 1:25, Eze. 20:38) and wrath (Isa. 9:19, Jer. 15:14), but this is the first time that God calls it a trial. He is putting the Jews to the test; will they continue to serve their idols in the day of calamity, or will they finally turn to their God? The rod is the symbol of the ruler; God is saying that even the king will be overcome by the sword and his line will perish. Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled this verse when he slaughtered all the king’s sons and put out the king’s eyes (II Ki. 25:6-7). This prophecy should not be difficult to believe for the people have witnessed Nebuchadnezzar removing the king of Judah once already and taking the people captive (II Ki. 24:11-16).
14-17 God makes it perfectly clear that the judgment will not be light; the war will touch all the Jews that remain in Israel (v. 12).
18-27a God expands on the message He gave through Jeremiah that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon is God’s servant who has been given authority over all nations (Jer. 27:6-7). God is using Nebuchadnezzar to pass judgments against the ungodly. While the Babylonian king does not serve God, for he consults with idols (graven images), he is being directed by God to overthrow the nations that have lifted themselves up against God. God will use the ungodly to punish the ungodly. Then, He will turn and judge the Babylon for its own sins (Isa. 14:4-11). While such a thought may seem difficult to understand in light of God’s love and grace, the point is that without God, one is at the mercy of the ungodly, and God will ultimately judge every soul that sins. Jerusalem and the prince who rules in Jerusalem must be judged and overturned from his seat of authority because he has sinned.
27b God is saying that He will overturn the kingship of Judah so that there will not be a king until the rightful king will come, which is Christ (Isa. 9:6-7). This verse is fulfilled in that after Zedekiah, there has not sat in Jerusalem a king over the Jews.
28-31 Just as the Jews must be judged for their sins, so, too, will the Ammonites be judged for their sins. God judges each individual and each nation according to the deeds of righteousness or wickedness. God states that the prominent sin of the Ammonites is deception; they are speaking vanities and lies to deceive people into siding with the wicked. Because of this, God will not spare the nation.
32 God makes a point to end the prophecy with a declaration of authority; as the heavenly King, God is making a formal decree that is to be carried out.
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