Ezekiel 24:1-2 (NIV) 1 In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.
On verses 1-2: According to scholars, “in the ninth year” refers to the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign as King of Judah (and also the ninth year after Zedekiah’s predecessor King Jehoiachin of Judah was exiled to Babylon – see Ezekiel 1:2 and Jeremiah 39:1). According to scholars, the exact date being described in verse 1 is January 15, 558 B.C, the day when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem. By this time Ezekiel had been warning the Israelites for over 4 years that Jerusalem would fall to Babylon (see Ezekiel 1:2), though many had refused to believe.
Ezekiel 24:3-6 (NIV) 3 Tell this rebellious house a parable and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘Put on the cooking pot; put it on and pour water into it. 4 Put into it the pieces of meat, all the choice pieces–the leg and the shoulder. Fill it with the best of these bones; 5 take the pick of the flock. Pile wood beneath it for the bones; bring it to a boil and cook the bones in it. 6 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘Woe to the city of bloodshed, to the pot now encrusted, whose deposit will not go away! Empty it piece by piece without casting lots for them.
On verses 3-6: Previously the Israelites in Jerusalem boasted that Jerusalem was a cooking pot and, like meat in that pot, they were safely kept inside it and free from harm (see Ezekiel 11:3-4). Using their own picture against them, the Lord tells Ezekiel to cook choice pieces of meat inside a pot and to pick them all out piece by piece. This was to illustrate that those Israelites who boasted are now going to be picked off one by one and removed from the safe pot called Jerusalem.
What can we learn from this? Unlike anything or anyone else, God is our one and only everlasting refuge and hiding place.
Ezekiel 24:7-8 (NIV) 7 “‘For the blood she shed is in her midst: She poured it on the bare rock; she did not pour it on the ground, where the dust would cover it. 8 To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered.
On verses 7-8: The Lord points out that the Israelites in Jerusalem had mercilessly and shamelessly shed innocent blood, and thus their own blood would be mercilessly shed (v7-8).
Ezekiel 24:9-14 (NIV) 9 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘Woe to the city of bloodshed! I, too, will pile the wood high. 10 So heap on the wood and kindle the fire. Cook the meat well, mixing in the spices; and let the bones be charred. 11 Then set the empty pot on the coals till it becomes hot and its copper glows so its impurities may be melted and its deposit burned away. 12 It has frustrated all efforts; its heavy deposit has not been removed, not even by fire. 13 “‘Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. 14 “‘I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.'”
On verses 9-14: Having cooked the meat well, Ezekiel is commanded by God to kindle a large fire and set the empty pot on the fire until its impurities and deposits disappear (v10-11). This was to illustrate how God had done everything He could to mercifully cleanse the Israelites in Jerusalem of their sins (v13), yet they persisted in their sin. Since the Israelites in Jerusalem did not respond to God’s mercy, God says that He is now resorting to His wrath. As He says in verse 13, “Because I tried to cleanse you but you not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided”. Thus God announces that “the time has come” (v14) for Him to release His wrath and to judge Jerusalem without hesitation or pity.
What can we learn from this? God prefers to deal with us on the basis of mercy rather than on the basis of wrath. God only resorts to wrath when we fail to respond to His mercy. We see this here in God’s treatment of the Israelites in Jerusalem. We see this over and over again in the Old Testament. We also see this in God’s treatment of us.
For in response to our sin, God could have chosen to act wrathfully from the outset. Instead God chose to reach out to us in mercy by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Now He waits for every person to respond to His mercy expressed at the cross. Only when we reject His mercy does God resort to showing us His wrath.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You love mercy and prefer to deal with us in mercy rather than in wrath. Thank You for showing us the greatest mercy the world has ever seen when You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to die in our place for our transgressions. I pray that every person in our city would respond to Your mercy before it’s too late. For You alone are our one true refuge and hiding place. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!