The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 11

Eze 11:1

Eze 11: "Judgment is threatened against the elders of the Jerusalem ecclesia, and grace is extended to those obedient in exile. The transgression of the leaders is proclaimed and the impending judgment is revealed. But blended with severity is God's goodness, and provision is made for the redemption of the faithful remnant in the Age to come. That done, and the Glory leaves the city. Ezekiel is taken to the east gate of Yahweh's house (v 1), the very area to which the Lord Jesus came after leaving the Upper Room in Jerusalem, and from the eastern gate he offered the prayer of John 17. Within the city of Jerusalem in Ezekiel's day as well as those of the Lord, the elders were conspiring. Their message was rejected, as the clarity of the Truth is often rejected by those seeking for personal prestige within the company of the believers. Therefore, (1) Ezekiel spoke against the men who devise mischief: vv 1-3, and then (2) pronounced a parable against the leaders: vv 4-12. He took up their mocking refrain and answers accordingly. Yahweh's favourites were those whose death the elders had caused. Meanwhile, they would not have privilege of dying in the city. Then comes: (3) Ezekiel's fear: v 13. He sees the death throes of the ecclesia in Jerusalem. The ch closes with (4) Yahweh's assurance of divine righteousness: vv 14-21; and (5) The glory leaves the temple: vv 22-25. The sad vision upholds God's righteousness, and Ezekiel is brought back in spirit to his place of exile" (GEM).

LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE: "Princes of the people" (AV). Ironic: not "princes of the sanctuary", as Isa 43:28, nor "of the priests", as in 2Ch 36:14. But simply princes "of the PEOPLE", to whom they pandered.

Eze 11:3

WILL IT NOT SOON BE TIME TO BUILD HOUSES?: Or, as NIV mg, "This is not the time to build houses." Israel should be building houses in Babylonia, not in Israel (Jer 29:5,28).

The KJV has: "It is not near!" -- which by itself is ambiguous, but may mean: 'God's judgments are not near!' If this is accurate, then it may indicate that those left in Jerusalem had no conception of the evil that they were involved in, nor the immediacy of Yahweh's intervention to vindicate His name. Leen Ritmeyer, when commenting on his archaeological finds in Jerusalem, says that the leaders in Jerusalem were still renovating and spending vast amounts of money on their houses at the time the Romans were besieging the city. It seems that in minute detail the Roman overthrow mirrors the Babylonian invasion.

THIS CITY IS A COOKING POT, AND WE ARE THE MEAT: Cp modern proverb: "out of the frying pan, and into the fire." Better to remain in city and prepare its defenses. But Ezekiel says there is no real defense; they will be scattered (vv 7-9).

A COOKING POT: This idea of the pot and the cauldron draws on the language of the children of Israel when they first went into the wilderness, and complained that they wished to be back with the fleshpots of Egypt (Exo 16:3). The two words (for "cooking pot" and meat") occur together 5 times in scripture -- in Exo 16:3; Eze 11:3,7,11, and finally in Mic 3:3: speaking figuratively of the final destruction.

Eze 11:10

YOU WILL FALL BY THE SWORD: Certain leaders were later executed at Riblah: 2Ki 25:18-21.

Cp Luk 21:24: "They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

Eze 11:15

BLOOD RELATIVES: "Gaalim" = "redemption-men". God says to Ezekiel, "Fret not for the priesthood; your true relatives -- for whom you will act as kinsman-redeemer -- are those of the Dispersion." Natural kinship -- ie with the priests -- means nothing.

THEY ARE FAR AWAY FROM THE LORD: Contrary to Jeremiah's parable (Jer 24), the Jews left in the Land considered themselves the GOOD figs!

THE LAND WAS GIVEN TO US AS OUR POSSESSION: The materialistic concept that possession of the Land is all-important: ct v 16.

Eze 11:16

FOR A LITTLE WHILE I HAVE BEEN A SANCTUARY: Thus implying an imminent return.

Eze 11:23

The Cherubim of the Glory of God is seen departing from the Temple and its precincts, in several stages: (1) "Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been [that is, in the Most Holy Place], and moved to the threshold of the temple" (Eze 9:3). (2) "Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD" (Eze 10:4). (3) "Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them" (Eze 10:18,19). (4) "The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it" (Eze 11:23). This, apparently, is the last time the Glory of God was seen in Ezekiel's day. Thus, in preparation for the judgments soon to fall on the city, Yahweh was -- by stages -- removing the Glory of His Presence from the doomed city. The stages of removal, and the intervening periods of waiting, were surely intended to offer a final witness to the people.

The final time Ezekiel sees this Glory is in his vision of the restoration: "The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple" (Eze 43:4,5).

It is remarkable that, 600 years later, when the Lord Jesus Christ (who was the Glory of Yahweh in human form: John 1:14; 17:6,22) addressed his farewell to the city of Jerusalem, he said: "Look, your house is left to you desolate" (Mat 23:38). The glory was departing from Israel, again, in anticipation of another destruction of a city and a temple which had turned its back on its God. And this it did, in reality, when Jesus took his leave from his disciples and was taken up from the Mount of Olives, on the east side of the city (Acts 1:9; cp Eze 11:23).

But, of course, as with the final vision seen by Ezekiel in Eze 43 -- the Glory embodied in Jesus Christ will also return to its city in the Last Days: "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). "Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem..." (Zec 14:3,4).

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