Ezekiel 22 (ESV)
Israel’s Shedding of Blood
verses 1-5: The guilt and the judgment of Jerusalem, the bloody city.
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city?
“Ezekiel seems to have borrowed this phrase from Nahum, who had in the previous century arraigned Nineveh as ‘the bloody city’ par excellence.”
–Daniel I. Block
Jerusalem seemed as bad as Nineveh!
Then declare to her all her abominations. 3 You shall say, Thus says the Lord God: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! 4 You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. 5 Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.
verses 6-12: The many sins of Israel and her princes.
6 “Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. 7 Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. 8 You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. 9 There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.
Instead of using their power in ways that would honor God and serve His people, the princes of Israel used their power in violent, self-serving ways — despising family and stranger, forgetting the Sabbaths, committing sexual immorality, imposing economic injustice — all things God had expressly forbidden.
verses 13-16: God beats His fists against Jerusalem’s corrupt leaders.
13 “Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst. 14 Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you. 16 And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
“Thou shalt know me by my punishments, whom thou wouldst not know by my benefits.”
verses 17-22: God’s furnace of judgment.
17 And the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. 21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”
“The prophet’s point is that far from being regarded as Yahweh’s special treasure, the house of Israel is nothing more than slag, the waste produced in the extraction of silver from ore.”
–Daniel I. Block
And yet, this severe announcement of judgment had within it a glimmer of hope. When the refiner melts the silver (or other precious metal) it isn’t to destroy it, but to purify it. As terrible as the burning of Jerusalem and exile would be, it would purify Israel even through the judgment.
verses 23-29: The sins of prophets, priests, princes, and people.
23 And the word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation.25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
The priests failed in their basic responsibilities to honor God’s law themselves, and to teach the people to do so. Therefore God was profaned among them, when He should have been glorified among His own priests.
27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. 28 And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lordhas not spoken. 29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.
When the leaders should have been like faithful shepherds, they were instead like vicious wolves. Their interest was not in the glory of God and the welfare of His people; it was to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.
verses 30-31: The vain search for a man to stand in the gap.
30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.
31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”
HERE is Babbie Mason and “Standing in the Gap.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.