God has already given Ezekiel one vision and here comes the second one. This set of chapters goes a little beyond that second vision and there are some times when God is specifically talking to Ezekiel too.
Again, we begin with a description that is mostly weird. I get that the presence of God is probably not something that we would consider normal, but still. God also comes to him while he is “sitting with the elders of Judah” and then picks him up by his hair to show him an image of jealousy and then to some court to look through a hole in the wall. So was he physically taken from his house or just spiritually? And why by just the “lock of his head”? I know that focusing on such details blocks attention from the point of reading the Bible but it would be nice to have an image that makes sense.
From here God takes Ezekiel around in a very “ghost of Christmas present” way to places where he can witness “abominations” happening throughout Israel. One of them applies directly to the women of the town:
14Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
I had to look up what that meant and Tammuz is a Sumerian god that these women were worshiping. Like the men, the women had stopped turning to God and begun to worship other entities, which God saw as an abomination. He knows they’ll turn back to Him when these gods fail to save them, but God basically says that he plans on ignoring them.
With Ezekiel witnessing it, God commands some “men” to work. The first is to see everyone not involved in the aforementioned abominations and then to mark them. The other are to follow him and kill every man, woman, and child who isn’t marked. Ezekiel prays that not everyone be destroyed and God sounds dismissive when He responds:
9Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.’ 10As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”
But we know that there was a remnant left and why would God bother sending someone to mark those not involved if He was going to kill them too? He had even said previously “touch no one on whom is the mark”. Were there that may people worshiping other gods that Ezekiel was worried no one would be left?
I guess so.
God continues giving directions to one of the “men” and there is a detailed description of some cherubim as the directions are carried out.
The final part of this vision is a visit to yet another group of men who sound like they are plotting against the people. Ezekiel is shown this and then told that God will bring back the people currently in exile to take over and “give them a new heart”. That sounds all well and good, but this is another incident that sounds a little like directly imposing upon free will. Again, this could be symbolic and there could be things that happen that give them a new heart, but it just sounds fishy here.
Ezekiel is then dropped among the exiles to tell them everything. So there was physical movement, which means he was picked up while in his house and among other people and dropped off where the exiles were.
This chapter begins a new vision to Ezekiel. It brings in the point that so many prophecies have appeared to come to nothing and the people just don’t care to think they might come true. They’ve failed to think of them as warnings to change their ways and when the prophesied event didn’t happen the next day, assumed the person saying it was lying or wrong.
There’s also a thing about packing a bag and being ready and about the prince of Israel not knowing where he will be taken and never seeing the land he is taken to.
This chapter focuses on God being upset with the false prophets and those who say that there will be peace in Israel even though He has said that there wouldn’t be. What is interesting about it for me is the use of the word “whitewash” in the translation that I have. I looked it up and the original word can also be used for “slime” or “plaster”. It is specifically the people who cover the walls that Ezekiel is to go find and speak out against, but there is no explanation of what the significance of the whitewashing. Of course, today we use that same term different. Or do we?
I found one resource that says the significance was that the whitewash made the wall appear stronger than it was to give the people a sense of security that wasn’t there. This makes sense while not being too far off from the modern meaning….
Then there is a passage about women who are giving false prophesies and making some sort of “magical band” for the people who follow them.
God has some ideas for what to do with people who try to double dip in religion, having idols but also going to prophets of God. They won’t be too happy about it. They are apparently so collectively bad that even if God’s favorite people were among them, He would only spare those people and no one else, not even any offspring that may be hanging about.
Another analogy about how God’s perspective on what’s going on. This one is rather short.