The last set of prophecies were about other nations around Israel and there is still one of those here, but these are mostly about Israel or Judah and what’s to come for them.
God sets up a watch system so that some people may be spared and then reminds them why they will perish as mentioned in previous chapters.
After all the prophecies and warnings, Jerusalem finally falls in this chapter.
This begins with God giving Ezekiel a prophecy against the shepherds and some descriptions of how they’ve not taken care of their sheep but it soon becomes obvious that He does not literally mean shepherds. He means the leadership in Jerusalem hasn’t been taking care of the people in any way whatsoever.
God goes on to say this:
23And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.
David? Is this an allusion to Jesus coming later? There’s no other explanation that I could think of and I didn’t see any others offered in the study section of my Bible or some of the commentaries I checked out. It does make me wonder what Jewish people think of it though. So I checked chabad.org, which has helped me out with some other questions too. They have mostly the same interpretation. This is a reference to a king who will be from the line of David.
In the last paragraph, God reminds them of everything He’s planning for the time after this time of suffering.
A prophecy for Mount Seir because they contributed to Israel’s downfall.
First there’s a prophecy for the actual land of Israel about the way it had been mistreated and that it will be bountiful in the coming days when the people of Israel come back and are restored. This is followed by God explaining to His people that they are being redeemed, not because of anything worthy they’ve done, but because He had claimed them and then they went around setting a bad example. Within the context of the bad example they have set, there is this verse:
17“Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity.
At first, I was little put off by the comparison but it goes on to talk about how the people shed blood on the land because they couldn’t help it and they couldn’t figure out how to do otherwise. Which makes sense out of God promises to set His “spirit” in them so that they could be different. I don’t know. I feel like I could draw so many comparisons with women about what it’s like to have your period and the things we do to try to contain it and the ways that people and governments try to control the behavior of populations. Maybe it’s just me.
With this chapter we return to the really weird. Its not so much the proof of concept that God displays by recreating people out of dry bones before Ezekiel, but the promise that God will raise people from their graves that follow it. Also, what happened to these people?
Okay, perhaps its more vision than deed, but, even the promise there is strange. To what extent is it a figurative expression of God’s promise for the current Israelites or a literal promise for later days when people will rise from graves? The study section of my Bible does make it all out to be figurative and to represent the way the spirit will give new life to the people of Israel, but is it wishful?
Some of these prophecies have come long before the events that are promised (those that allude to the birth of Jesus especially) and some are imminent, like the destruction of the cities and nations. Some of these words are bound to look like one thing to one generation and something different to another. And that’s the heartache with prophecy.
The chapter goes on to talk about symbolically rejoining the two kingdoms, Judah and Israel. Then the previously mention servant David will be their king and/or prince. The shepherd mentioned before in chapter thirty four. The problem is that time it sounds like God means Jesus and now it sounds like a more immediate person because Jesus didn’t just bring the Jews together, as I understand it. This is also the point where the study section seems confused as it mentions this is probably not a messianic figure. Why would the two mentions use such similar language and not mean the same person? Well, I’ll leave that to the more experienced Bible scholars.
These are a prophecy against Gog, who is a prince of another nation. He is meant to go up against Israel after the restoration and exemplify what this people, who had been so broken down by Babylon and other neighbors, can do when God is on their side. The way the prophecy reads is contrary to the belief in free will being an absolute. At the same time, as with Pharaoh back in Exodus, this could also be done by the use of provocations by God rather than direct mental intervention. The main focus of the chapters, though, is God’s restoration. He will not only bring the people back from everywhere they are captives but restore their military might.