As an illustration of the coming judgment on Jerusalem, God tells Ezekiel to shave his head and beard and then divide his hair into three parts: one-third to burn in a fire, one-third to chop in pieces, and one-third to toss into the wind. Then He says to bind a few strands in his garment. This is to show the fate of the people, “Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you… because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.” However, the Lord will save a remnant of the people and restore them to accomplish His plans and purposes.
The Lord says the end has come for Jerusalem and He “will repay you according to your ways, and your abominations will be in your midst. Then you shall know that I am the Lord who strikes.” And on that day, all the worthless material items of the world that they so value and receive joy from will be useless – “Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomach, because it became their stumbling block of iniquity.”
About a year and a half after receiving his first vision from the Lord, the Lord gives what one commentator called “the most tragic vision in the book of Ezekiel” as the Lord gives Ezekiel a view inside the temple in Jerusalem. There Ezekiel sees:
- An idol of jealousy in the court of the temple
- Seventy elders practicing idolatry inside the temple
- Women weeping for the false god Tammuz at the gate of the temple
- People worshiping the sun at the door of the temple
Although idolatry is a trivial thing for the people, it is not for God and He will not tolerate it forever. So the Lord calls for seven angels, with one being a scribe, to execute the wicked ones. He tells the scribe to mark the people who have repented so they would be spared, but the rest were to be killed, beginning with the elders who led the people astray.
“Then He said to them, ‘Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!’ And they went out and killed in the city. So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?’”
Tomorrow the Lord gives Ezekiel a word of hope for the exiled before the glory of the Lord departs the temple. Keep reading. (Ezekiel 5:1-9:11)