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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Ezekiel 24

 

 

Verses 1-27

Chapter Twenty-four

The Death Of The Prophet’s Wife A Sign To Israel

The prophecies recorded in the last four chapters seem all to have been delivered in the seventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity (20:1). The message of chapter 24 is dated on the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year. Despite all the optimistic promises made by false prophets who declared that the scattered families of Judah would soon return in peace to their land, conditions continued to grow worse.

“Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this selfsame day: the king of Babylon drew close unto Jerusalem this selfsame day. And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Set on the caldron, set it on, and also pour water into it: gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones. Take the choice of the flock, and also a pile of wood for the bones under the caldron; make it boil well; yea, let the bones thereof be boiled in the midst of it”-vers. 1-5.

Nebuchadnezzar, who was now the reigning monarch, had gone up against Jerusalem a second time, and God was about to use him to execute His judgment upon the guilty city whose inhabitants still seemed insensible of the real danger to which they were exposed. Ezekiel again likens Jerusalem to a great cooking vessel, and its inhabitants as the flesh to be boiled in it. The army of the Chaldeans surrounding the city were like the fire which should cause the pot to boil furiously until those within the city were utterly destroyed.

In the verses that follow he enlarges upon this illustration, applying it with terrible force to the people of the stricken city where once Jehovah had set His name, but which He now disowned because of its manifold iniquities.

“Wherefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Woe to the bloody city, to the caldron whose rust is therein, and whose rust is not gone out of it! take out of it piece after piece; no lot is fallen upon it. For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the bare rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust. That it may cause wrath to come up to take vengeance, I have set her blood upon the bare rock, that it should not be covered. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Woe to the bloody city! I also will make the pile great. Heap on the wood, make the fire hot, boil well the flesh, and make thick the broth, and let the bones be burned. Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that it may be hot and the brass thereof may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the rust of it may be consumed. She hath wearied herself with toil; yet her great rust goeth not forth out of her; her rust goeth not forth by fire. In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have cleansed thee and thou wast not cleansed, thou shalt not be cleansed from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused My wrath toward thee to rest. I, Jehovah, have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 6-14.

Instead of “the holy city,” Jerusalem is called “the bloody city,” for it had become utterly filthy and defiled by the idolatrous wickedness of its people. Like a disgusting mess simmering in its own filth, the doomed inhabitants were exposed to the vengeance of the God whose law they had spurned and whose grace they had despised. As they had poured out their sacrifices upon the high places to their false gods who were powerless to save, so should they be emptied out upon the top of the rock and cast into the dust as unclean and unfit for God’s acceptance. He Himself would make the pile for fire great against them, and instead of baring His arm to deliver them He would give them up to that destruction which their sins deserved. Jerusalem is again likened to a false and unchaste woman who has broken wedlock. She had wearied herself with lies in her effort to cover her infamy and hide her shame, but all was of no avail. So manifest was her corruption that her filthiness and lewdness could not be purged or cleansed away until she had endured the fury of the Lord which her guilt deserved.

What God had spoken He would surely bring to pass. There would be no changing His mind or giving further opportunity to repent. They had sinned beyond remedy, and so judgment must take its course.

“Also the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet thou shalt neither mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud, make no mourning for the dead; bind thy headtire upon thee, and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning; and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded”-vers. 15-18.

In this section we have a personal experience of the prophet. His wife, whom he loved tenderly, was to be taken away suddenly by death; yet he was not to show any outward sign of mourning, for as he suffered so should the people as a whole suffer. He was commanded to refrain from weeping for the dead, but was to endure in stolid silence the grief which he was called to face.

That day he prophesied as usual, though with this heavy cloud hanging over his head; and at evening his wife died. His heart must indeed have been heavy, but in the morning he gave no evidence of the grief that was stirring within his soul except that he remained dumb, much to the astonishment of the people who undoubtedly knew of his sincere affection for his wife. They wondered at his apparent indifference.

“And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so? Then I said unto them, The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left behind shall fall by the sword. And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away in your iniquities, and moan one toward another. Thus shall Ezekiel be unto you a sign; according to all that he hath done shall ye do: when this cometh, then shall ye know that I am the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 19-24.

When his neighbors questioned Ezekiel as to his strange behavior he explained that his loss was but a small one as compared with the sorrows and bereavements that were to come to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all the people of Israel.

The Lord God had decreed that because of their behavior His sanctuary would be given over to profanation and destruction. Israel, the desire of His eyes, was to be given up to death. Her sons and daughters were to perish by the sword of a cruel and vindictive enemy. So terrible would be the carnage that the survivors would be literally paralyzed with horror and would be dumb in the greatness of their grief. Thus, they should do as he, the prophet, had done in the hour of his soul’s distress-they should not put on the gar- ments of mourning nor show signs of their anguish because of the dead. Rather were they destined to pine away in their own sins, grieving because of what they themselves were called upon to endure.

In this way Ezekiel was their sign; for they should do as he had done when the word of the Lord had been fulfilled, and they should know that He was the Lord God who executed judgment against the unconfessed sin of His people.

“And thou, son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their heart, their sons and their daughters, that in that day he that escapeth shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears? In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him that is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: so shalt thou be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”-vers. 25-27.

When the city was taken and multitudes slain and those who had escaped should come to Ezekiel for help and comfort, then he was to be dumb no longer but to speak unto them the Word of the Lord as He should give it in that day. Judgment must follow disobedience, but God delights to show mercy to all who confess and forsake their sins.

Surely there is a message in all this for us today. We who call ourselves Christians have drifted far from the truth as set forth in the Word of God. How can we hope to escape when He arises to deal in judgment with those who have turned after the things of the world, thus dishonoring His name? Oh, that there might yet be a great returning to God and His Word, that there might come revival and blessing ere the close of this dispensation of grace!

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 24:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-24.html. 1914.

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