Ezekiel Chapter 5
Lessons from the text
Binding a Few in the Skirt
God commanded Ezekiel to shave his head and beard and divide the hair into three even parts. Then, he was to take a tiny number to bind and keep in his skirt (outer robe). These were the only hairs that would be left, for the three main piles of hair were to be burned in the fire, cut up with a knife, or scattered in the wind and lost. Yet the little bundle did not remain safe. God told Ezekiel to take of the bundle and burn some of it in the fire. God then said that all this represented the judgments that would come on the Jews.
There are many, many individual strands of hair on a human’s head, not to mention from a beard. Out of all of those strands, only a few (maybe twenty or thirty) were to be kept safe, and only for a short time. The few remaining were lessened in number again. Out of thousands of strands of hair, only a portion of a tiny bundle survived. Even so, out of all of the Jews that made up the nation of Israel at the time Ezekiel received this command, only a tiny portion, a remnant, would survive God’s judgments. An entire nation was reduced to a very small number, all because of sin.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-4 After Ezekiel lays on his sides for the duration of the judgment against Jerusalem, he is to cut his hair and burn one third of it, beat a third with a knife, and scattering the remaining third into the wind. This represents the three fates of the Jewish people. God gives this prophesy about six years before the destruction of Jerusalem. As Jeremiah records, the famine consumed the people within Jerusalem (the fire), and those outside the city were subject to be killed by the Chaldeans (the knife/sword). Many of the Jews will flee their country and be scattered among the surrounding nations, only to be chased down by the sword (Jer. 41:16-18). A handful of Jews will escape the sword and famine, but they will later be burned with fire. Fire is used because it represents judgment; God will judge the Jews in Jerusalem for their idolatry through the judgment of hunger, and He will judge the refugees in Babylon with the sword to purge them of their sins (Eze. 4:17; Isa. 27:9). The point is that all of Israel will be affected by God’s judgments.
5-9 God explains the reasons for His judgments against His people; they have changed His holy commandants. Noteworthy is that God says that the Jews have altered the laws of God more than the Gentile nations that surround Israel; those who should have been the closest to God have perverted His ways the most. Having received the knowledge of the truth of God in Jesus Christ, the Christian is to take extra care as to not alter the Gospel or profane the Christian way of life; if the Christian fails to do so, he may stand before God just as the Jews here stand before the wrath of God.
10 One of the harshest judgments God pronounces against the Jews is cannibalism; the famine is so severe that families will be eating each other to survive (see Lam. 4:10).
11 The people could have avoided this terrible judgment of cannibalism and destruction if they had only kept the things of God holy and chosen to cling to His commandments. Instead, they chose to change God’s laws to suit them.
12 God repeats the judgments of the thirds.
13-17 Because God is just, He must punish sin. He will send the sword (war), famine, and the beasts of the field against the Jews. However, because of His covenant with the house of Israel, God will not destroy the Jews completely. This generation may pass away in their sin (just as the generation that came out of Egypt perished), but a future generation will be restored and receive the grace of God for their faith.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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