Ezekiel 7 – Then You Shall Know That I Am the LORD
A. The end reveals Yahweh to His people.
1. (1-2a) Introduction.
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel:
a. The word of the LORD came to me: The repetition of this phrase reminds us that fundamentally, Ezekiel was a prophet. He was a man to whom the word of the LORD came, and who then had to deliver that word.
b. To the land of Israel: Ezekiel was in Babylon, and his most immediate hearers were fellow exiles. Yet at the time he spoke this, Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed and Judah had not yet been completely conquered. This was a message to the land of Israel, to announce coming judgment upon them.
2. (2b-4) Announcement of the end.
‘An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.
Now the end has come upon you,
And I will send My anger against you;
I will judge you according to your ways,
And I will repay you for all your abominations.
My eye will not spare you,
Nor will I have pity;
But I will repay your ways,
And your abominations will be in your midst;
Then you shall know that I am the LORD!’
a. The end has come upon the four corners of the land: Prophetically, Ezekiel could see the end for the entire land of Israel. No place would be spared. There would remain no land under the control of the tribes of Israel. Their “party” of rebellion and idolatry was over – now the end has come upon you.
i. “The words here ‘An end’ are exclamatory. That is the message in its entirety – ‘An end!’ The time of patience was over, there was to be no more waiting.” (Morgan)
ii. It has been said, if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. It is wise to consider the end before it actually comes upon you. Ezekiel hoped to bring this wisdom to rebellious Israel.
iii. “Ezekiel’s accent on immanency and the urgency of his tone represent his reaction to public indifference and the refusal to take the divine threats seriously.” (Block)
b. I will judge you according to your ways: God promised to bring simple justice to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. As a kingdom, their ways would determine their judgment, and the judgment would be severe: My eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity.
c. Then you shall know that I am the LORD: This great judgment had a purpose, and a good purpose. It would be the way that God’s people would return to a true relationship with, and knowledge of, their covenant God.
B. Repayment for their abominations reveals Yahweh to His people.
1. (5-7) The day of disaster.
“Thus says the Lord GOD:
‘A disaster, a singular disaster;
Behold, it has come!
An end has come,
The end has come;
It has dawned for you;
Behold, it has come!
Doom has come to you, you who dwell in the land;
The time has come,
A day of trouble is near,
And not of rejoicing in the mountains.
a. A disaster, a singular disaster; behold, it has come: The future disaster brought by the Babylonian armies was revealed to Ezekiel. The short, excited phrases were spoken as if they were in the mouth of someone watching this overwhelming army do its damage.
b. Doom has come to you: The people would face a dawn (it has dawned for you), but it would be a dawn of doom. The time of Israel’s rejoicing in the mountains over their pagan altars and perverted worship would be over.
i. It has dawned for you: “In a beautiful play on words, impossible to reproduce in English, Ezekiel pictured the end as though it had been quiescent or asleep, but would be awakened and aroused to come against the people of the land of Israel.” (Feinberg)
ii. “God’s vengeance seems to slumber, and sinners dream it will never awake, but here the prophet assureth the sinners of Jerusalem, and its people, that God hath awakened his vengeance, which now watcheth to take the first opportunity, or rather to hasten it.” (Poole)
iii. “Thus the prophet told the exiles in Babylon, what Jeremiah was telling them in Jerusalem, that the opportunity for recovery was past, that the nation had overstepped the boundaries of the forbearance and waiting of God.” (Morgan)
2. (8-9) Repayment for their abominations.
Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury,
And spend My anger upon you;
I will judge you according to your ways,
And I will repay you for all your abominations.
‘My eye will not spare,
Nor will I have pity;
I will repay you according to your ways,
And your abominations will be in your midst.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD who strikes.
a. I will repay you for all your abominations: As in other places, the word abominations mainly has the sense of terrible, even disgusting idolatry. God’s fury and anger would come upon them for this idolatry.
b. Then you shall know that I am the LORD who strikes: Once again, ultimate restoration is in mind. The severe judgment for their idolatry would show that their idols were powerless to save them. In destroying their reliance on idols, they could come back to a true relationship with Yahweh.
i. “The message closed by stunning the exiles with a new name for God: ‘The Lord who strikes the blow’ (YHWH makkeh), the one who would now judge Judah.” (Alexander)
C. The coming day of Yahweh’s revelation to His people.
1. (10-13) In that day, judgment will come upon everyone.
‘Behold, the day!
Behold, it has come!
Doom has gone out;
The rod has blossomed,
Pride has budded.
Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness;
None of them shall remain,
None of their multitude,
None of them;
Nor shall there be wailing for them.
The time has come,
The day draws near.
‘Let not the buyer rejoice,
Nor the seller mourn,
For wrath is on their whole multitude.
For the seller shall not return to what has been sold,
Though he may still be alive;
For the vision concerns the whole multitude,
And it shall not turn back;
No one will strengthen himself
Who lives in iniquity.
a. Behold the day! Behold, it has come: In Ezekiel’s time, there were many false prophets who said God would rescue Judah and Jerusalem. These hopeful lies made it hard to believe that the day of great judgment would actually come, but it did. Ezekiel tried to prepare them for this.
b. The rod has blossomed, pride has budded: This is an interesting reference to Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17). That miraculous blossoming was a supernatural demonstration of God’s favor and His approval of Moses and Aaron. The judgment to come upon Jerusalem would also be supernatural, but it would demonstrate God’s anger and the pride of His disobedient people.
i. “Ezekiel has hereby twisted what was originally a positive symbol of election and legitimate authority into an emblematic cudgel of oppression and wickedness.” (Block)
ii. Smith gives an example of those who identify the rod with Babylon: “The day of Jerusalem’s judgment would begin with the blossoming of the arrogant superpower Babylon, God’s judgment ‘rod.’ The wickedness and violent deeds of the citizens of Judah created the need for this rod of correction.”
c. None…none…none of them: With poetic power and repetition, Ezekiel assured them that none would escape the coming calamity. Both the buyer and the seller would have reasons to mourn, for wrath is on their whole multitude.
i. The buyer…the seller: “The point is, of course, that buying and selling will have lost their significance in the face of the total disaster that will come on buyer and seller alike.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. The seller shall not return: “In a grim parody of the ancient laws of Jubilee, the prophet declares that patrimonial property that has been lost to the family will not return; the year of Jubilee will be canceled.” (Block)
d. It shall not turn back: Most of the time in the Scriptures, when God announces judgment it is an implied invitation for repentance, whereupon God will relent from the announced judgment. With this prophecy of Ezekiel, this was not the case. The judgment was coming; it shall not turn back.
i. No one will strengthen himself who lives in iniquity: “Ezekiel indicated the foolishness of the man who thought he could strengthen himself in the very iniquity which called down the wrath of God. Hardening oneself in sin would not accomplish immunity from punishment. On the contrary, it would assure it all the more.” (Feinberg)
2. (14-18) In that day, shame and horror will be upon all.
‘They have blown the trumpet and made everyone ready,
But no one goes to battle;
For My wrath is on all their multitude.
The sword is outside,
And the pestilence and famine within.
Whoever is in the field
Will die by the sword;
And whoever is in the city,
Famine and pestilence will devour him.
‘Those who survive will escape and be on the mountains
Like doves of the valleys,
All of them mourning,
Each for his iniquity.
Every hand will be feeble,
And every knee will be as weak as water.
They will also be girded with sackcloth;
Horror will cover them;
Shame will be on every face,
Baldness on all their heads.
a. No one goes to battle: There would be very little resistance to the coming Babylonian conquest. Perhaps the people took comfort in the idea, “Our soldiers will fight bravely to save our land from the Babylonians.” Ezekiel told them they would not fight at all, much less bravely.
i. “Its first manifestation would be the paralysis of the people, so that when the trumpet was blown for the battle, and all was ready, none would move forward, being overcome by terror and grief.” (Morgan)
b. Whoever is in the field will die by the sword: Ezekiel methodically described the fate of those in the field, those in the city, and those who survive. Each would experience the coming calamity in their own way, but none would escape it.
i. Like doves of the valleys: “What the prophet seems to be envisaging is the total destruction of the towns and cities of Judah, forcing those who survive to seek refuge in the mountains. The sound of their mourning would resemble the plaintive cooing of ordinary pigeons.” (Block)
ii. Every knee will be as weak as water: “There is a vivid account of the panic that will follow. The RSV’s ‘all knees [are] weak as water’ means ‘all knees will run water’: a euphemism for the loss of bladder control in moments of terror.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iii. “However, the LXX translators have captured its sense: ‘and all their knees will run with urine.’ The prophet is hereby referring to the loss of bladder control that occurs in a moment of extreme crisis.” (Block)
c. Horror will cover them; shame will be on every face: When the calamity came, it would not be light. This was far beyond an inconvenience. In their own way, all would share in the horror and shame.
3. (19-22) In that day, material things will be of no help.
‘They will throw their silver into the streets,
And their gold will be like refuse;
Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them
In the day of the wrath of the LORD;
They will not satisfy their souls,
Nor fill their stomachs,
Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity.
‘As for the beauty of his ornaments,
He set it in majesty;
But they made from it
The images of their abominations—
Their detestable things;
Therefore I have made it
Like refuse to them.
I will give it as plunder
Into the hands of strangers,
And to the wicked of the earth as spoil;
And they shall defile it.
I will turn My face from them,
And they will defile My secret place;
For robbers shall enter it and defile it.
a. Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: The completeness of the coming judgment meant that it would also affect both rich and poor. The wealth of the rich would give them no advantage.
i. They will throw their silver into the streets: “As burdensome, and not beneficial to them.Thus Judas threw away his wages of wickedness; and many, on their deathbeds, detest their cursed hoards of ill gotten goods, saying unto them, as once Charles V did, Abite hinc, abite longe, – Away from me, away, away.” (Trapp)
ii. “Generally silver and gold stand for much among the children of men; they are the keys to the unlocking of the treasures of life. But when the supreme crises come; when all hands are feeble, and all knees weak as water; when the day of the wrath of the Lord breaks—there is no help in silver and gold; they cannot satisfy or save.” (Meyer)
b. Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity: Their riches got them into trouble; they could not rescue them from trouble.
c. Therefore I have made it like refuse to them: The word here and in Ezekiel 7:19 translated refuse refers to sexual impurity, such as the ritual uncleanness associated with menstruation.
i. Refuse: “This word, nidda, belongs to the language of female impurity and expresses the revulsion that will be felt not only towards their wealth, but also towards their beautiful ornament (Ezekiel 7:20, RSV), i.e. their expensively decked idols.“ (Taylor)
ii. “Money would be thrown away like something sexually unclean (Leviticus 20-21).” (Alexander)
d. He set it in majesty; but they made from it the images of their abominations: God blessed Israel with wealth and resources, but they used those things to further and promote idolatry. Fittingly, all that wealth would be given as plunder into the hands of strangers.
e. They will defile My secret place: God even announced that robbers would sack His temple, including the secret place (the Holy of Holies). This coming judgment would be complete, not sparing even the temple.
4. (23-27) In that day, all human help will fail.
‘Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled.
They will seek peace, but there shall be none.
Disaster will come upon disaster,
And rumor will be upon rumor.
Then they will seek a vision from a prophet;
But the law will perish from the priest,
And counsel from the elders.
‘The king will mourn,
The prince will be clothed with desolation,
And the hands of the common people will tremble.
I will do to them according to their way,
And according to what they deserve I will judge them;
Then they shall know that I am the LORD!’”
a. Make a chain, for the land is filled with crimes of blood: This was likely a chain to restrain violent criminals, those guilty of crimes of blood. God would allow great judgment to be a punishment and restraint to His violent, wicked people.
i. “Ezekiel was commanded to perform a symbolic act by making a chain which was emblematic of the captivity awaiting them (see Jeremiah 27:2; Nahum 3:10).” (Feinberg)
ii. “In Nahum 3:10 this word describes the treatment of prisoners of war, in this instance consisting of persons from the upper class. The ‘chain’ would have been used to tie the captives together to form a long train headed for exile.” (Block)
iii. Crimes of blood: “Judicial murders, occurs only here…. the phrase is best understood as ‘murderous judicial decisions,’ rather than ‘crimes of violence.’” (Block)
b. Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles: God made no claim that the invaders would be good or righteous. They were instruments of His severe correction against His people, but they were not good – they were the worst of the Gentiles.
i. “The Jews were bad enough, but the Chaldees were worse, if worse might be; malignants above measure, Poneropolitans, breathing devils. A hard knot must have a harder wedge, as the proverb is.” (Trapp)
ii. “How he may use a more wicked population to punish a less wicked one may create theological problems for mortal minds, but it is consistent with his sovereignty over all.” (Block)
c. They will seek peace, but there shall be none: There would be no quickly made peace treaty or tribute paid to prevent the disaster. It would surely come.
d. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet: Frightened by the disaster and confused by the rumor, some would finally seek a word from God. In that day of judgment, there would be none. The law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders.
i. Ezekiel 7:26 seems to be an answer to what was said in Jerusalem at the time, as recorded in Jeremiah 18:18: Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”
ii. The king will mourn: “In the eyes of Ezekiel, the king was Jehoiachin (Ezekiel 1:2) and the prince was Zedekiah. Though Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, the prophet didn’t recognize his reign but considered him only a prince (Ezekiel 12:10, 12).” (Wiersbe)
e. According to what they deserve I will judge them: This was a terrible promise. Israel had sinned greatly, so a great judgment was coming upon them.
f. Then they shall know that I am the LORD: The triple repetition in this chapter makes the point strongly. God’s purpose was not Israel’s pain, but their restoration to a true relationship with Him.