Ezekiel 12:1-7 (NIV) 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. 3 “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. 4 During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. 5 While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. 6 Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.” 7 So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched.
On verses 1-7: Here God is getting Ezekiel to act out how the Israelites are exiled from their land. Notice how many times the phrase “while they watch” and variations of it get repeated in these verses. This shows me that God is a thoughtful communicator who carefully plans out how He will engage His hearers, so as to get the most bang for His effort.
What can we learn from this? A big part of excellence is seeking to get maximum results for your effort. Like God, may you be a thoughtful communicator and a pursuer of excellence.
Ezekiel 12:8-11 (NIV) 8 In the morning the word of the LORD came to me: 9 “Son of man, did not that rebellious house of Israel ask you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel who are there.’ 11 Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.’ “As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives.
On verses 8-11: Here the Lord gives Ezekiel a fuller explanation of the scene the Lord had asked Ezekiel to perform. The Lord says that this scene, or this oracle (v10), concerns “the prince of Jerusalem” (more on him below) and the whole house of Israel. The Lord tells Ezekiel that one day those in Jerusalem will be taken captive in what would be a third invasion of Judah by Babylon. This would indeed happen and culminate with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Ezekiel 12:12-14 (NIV) 12 “The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. 13 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. 14 I will scatter to the winds all those around him–his staff and all his troops–and I will pursue them with drawn sword.
On verses 12-14: Earlier in verse 10, the Lord explained that the scene He got Ezekiel to act out in particular concerns “the prince of Judah”, likely a reference to Zedekiah, who at only the age of 21 was installed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as the new king of Judah in place of King Jehoichin (see 2 Kings 25:18). The Lord probably calls Zedekiah “the prince of Judah” because he is so young and inexperienced to be a king. Zedekiah would rebel against King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:20) and pay dearly for it. King Nebuchadnezzar would break through the wall of Jerusalem (represented by the hole that Ezekiel dug through the wall in his dramatized oracle – see 2 Kings 25:4). Then Zedekiah would be separated from his own troops (see 2 Kings 25:5), just as Ezekiel predicts in verse 14. Zedekiah and his family would be captured and Zedekiah’s sons would be executed before Zedekiah’s very eyes, while he is watching. If all this was happening when Zedekiah was 30 years old (2 Kings 25:10), then his sons were probably no older than 10 or 11 when they were executed. After this King Nebuchadnezzar put out both of Zedekiah’s eyes (see 2 Kings 25:7) before being led to Babylon, thus fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy in verse 13 where it says “I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it”.
Ezekiel 12:15-16 (NIV) 15 “They will know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
On verses 15-16: Here again we see God being a purposeful and thoughtful teacher and communicator. In both punishing the house of Israel (v15) as well as sparing the house of Israel (v16), God is intentional about sending a message so that those who see and hear the message will know that He is the Lord.
What can we learn from this? God makes the most of every situation to teach people about Himself. Likewise, may we learn to take the situations around us and turn them into moments where we can teach those in our care about who God is.
Heavenly Father, You are the most thoughtful communicator and teacher. You make the most of every situation to teach Your children about who You are. Help me to be a thoughtful communicator and effective teacher about You to others. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!