God uses a story of two sisters to illustrate the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel.
Ezekiel Chapter 23
Lessons from the text
Learn from Judgment In this chapter, God compares the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah as two sisters. Israel was the younger for it broke away from Judah (I Ki. 12:16-19). The younger was punished for her sins of idolatry by being overrun by Assyria and carried away captive (II Ki. 17:1-18). Instead of learning from Israel’s punishment, Judah continued in her sins. Judah could not recognize God’s judgment on her sister and therefore could not fear that same judgment on herself.
God’s judgments on nations and individuals are meant to warn us of what can happen to us if we continue in sin. It is essential for people to look around and realize that the end of sin is destruction, misery, and ultimately death. We can see this by observing our fellow humans. We can also see this by observing what has happened to nations that abuse their people. Instead of being blinding by how much money a person has or how much power a nation has, we need to look at the big picture; every one who sins, be it a nation or an individual, has to pay the price for sin, and that price is death.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-4 The two daughters are the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel; they had one origin but split into two independent nations with the northern kingdom being the younger. Samaria is the capitol of the northern kingdom and Jerusalem is the capitol of the southern kingdom. Before they became nations (while in their youth), they both turned to the idols of Egypt in the wilderness, desiring to return to bondage rather than enter the promised land. See Ezekiel 16:45-58 for a similar comparison.
5-10 Instead of turning to God for helping, the northern kingdom formed alliances with Assyria. The abomination from Egypt is the golden calves that were made by the first king, which is the same idol that was made in the wilderness when Moses delayed coming down from Mount Sinai because he was receiving the ten commandments (I Ki. 12:28-33, Exo. 32:1-6). Because the people trusted in idols and Assyria instead of God, God allowed the people to be at the mercy of their sins and Assyria; when Assyria attacked, God did not defend the people.
11-21 The southern kingdom did not learn from the example of the northern kingdom. When the eldest sibling watches the younger be punished for her sins, the eldest should then consider her ways and realize that she, too, could be punished if she does the same thing. However, Judah did not realize this. God says that her sins were above and beyond the northern kingdom’s sins; in addition to turning to the Assyrian’s, the people quickly adopted the religion of the Babylonians. When God punished them for this through the first siege on Jerusalem (II Ki. 24:10-17), the people did not repent but only increased their idolatry. In this way, the people have reverted back to their original condition of bondmen to the idolatry of Egypt.
22-34 Just as God turned Assyria against the northern kingdom, He will turn Babylon against the southern kingdom. If a person indulges in sin, those very sins will one day turn around to destroy that person. No matter how delightful or enticing a sin may be, the end thereof is destruction, bitterness, and shame. Only faithfulness to God will bring eternal life and enduring happiness.
36 God repeats the request for Ezekiel to judge the people (Eze. 20:4, 22:2). As a priest, Ezekiel has the right to declare right from wrong, which is judgment.
37-49 Not only have the people served other gods (committed adultery against God) but also they have killed their children and entered in the same day to the temple in Jerusalem. This defiles the temple because the people have brought the uncleanness of a dead body into the temple (see Num. 19:11-12). This also shows how unashamed of their idolatry the people are. This is like a wife who sleeps with her lover in the afternoon only to return that night to her husband to woo her husband in affections. As a husband is enraged with a wife who can so lie to him, even so is God disgusted with the Jews for their unfaithfulness. He will allow them to suffer the penalty for their adultery against Him, with is death (Deut. 13:1-10, 22:20-22).
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