The timing for this book is set up in the first paragraph. It takes place in the events of the earlier part of Jeremiah, after the first invasion from Babylon but well before the last.
So, this is a weird one. It actually takes weird to a whole new level. Ezekiel spends most of this chapter describing what God looks like as He talks to him and whatever it was that God was sitting on or whatever.
This chapter begins the conversation he was having with God, which includes being physically moved by the “Spirit”, warned that the people may not even listen to him and will likely attempt him harm, a warning to not be “rebellious” like them but to go tell them what God says, and given a scroll to literally eat and digest.
Okay, the eating part seems like a metaphor in that last chapter but becomes literal here. God wants him to eat it, as in “fill your belly with it”. Apparently, it tasted like honey.
God continues to assure Ezekiel to not be intimidated by the Israelites that he is being sent to, no matter how hard a people they look to be. There is a bit of a warning that goes with it that I found interesting toward the end. God will give Ezekiel a warning for someone or group, if he fails to deliver it and they fall into whatever sin or trouble they were to be warned against, Ezekiel will be responsible for their death. If he warns them and they decided to do it anyway, that’s on them.
God gives Ezekiel some things to do that “symbolize” what Israel and Judah are about to go through. Having read the other books, we should already have a bit of an idea but I found it helpful that this includes a set number of days for Ezekiel to do these things that represent the years of punishment for Israel and Judah. This helps me quantify how long they were suffering for future reading. 390 years for Israel and 40 years for Judah.
God continues explaining ways to understand or quantify what’s to come for Israel. Some of it is odd and written for its time but there are other parts that feel more like parenting. There are times when the whole “father” figure of God is just so exactly the way we still talk to our kids. An example:
7Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, and have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my rules, and have nota even acted according to the rules of the nations that are all around you,8therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you. And I will execute judgmentsb in your midst in the sight of the nations.
Is it just me, or does that not sound like a parent yelling at their kid that they were raised better than the kids they’re hanging out with but still doing worse things and therefore really gonna get worse in front of them because they knew better?
The chapter goes on that way a minute.
God continues the explanation of what He’s about to do to Israel in a rather rant-like fashion.
As the rant continues, we get a little explanation of why the sword, pestilence, and famine instead of everyone perishing by one thing. This is to make sure that He gets everyone. People in town will be killed by the incoming captors, people out of town aren’t going to escape judgement just because they missed the siege. There’s also this interesting bit for the last verse:
27The king mourns, the prince is wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people of the land are paralyzed by terror. According to their way I will do to them, and according to their judgments I will judge them, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
I’ve long wondered about the “as” in the Lord’s prayer and this seems to solidify what that means to me. God is all about punishing us with the way we treat others. He begins way back when telling us to love our neighbors the way we want to be loved, to treat them the way we want to be treated. Since the people of Israel and Judah during this time fail to do so, He will punish them by treating them the way they treated everyone else.