310 - The Doomsday Message (Ezekiel 4–7)
God’s discipline of His people for their sin is demanded by His holiness, but it is also for the good of His children. It reminds them that He is the Lord and their lives find fulfillment only in ordering their lives according to His Word.
The Doomsday Message
It seems like every other day another doomsday report gets headlines or is featured in some documentary online. Sensational news generates a lot of clicks and keeps cable news afloat.
Well, as we arrive at Ezekiel chapter 4, Ezekiel is not making up some kind of doomsday announcement to scare his nation; he is simply telling them the truth.
He is preaching to the exiled Jewish people living in Babylon; they think Jerusalem will never be completely destroyed and they are going to return home in the near future. And that is because they do not want to admit that their exile is God’s judgment on them for their idolatry.
So here in chapter 4, the Lord tells Ezekiel to preach some sermons that will show them Jerusalem is not their hope – He is. These are what you could call silent sermons because it is not what Ezekiel says but what he does that delivers the message.
First, the Lord tells him in verse 1, “Take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem.” In other words, the brick represents Jerusalem. Ezekiel is told to construct tiny model ladders and battering rams and surround the “city” with little enemy campgrounds. It looks like the prophet is playing a child’s game with construction toys and building blocks, but His object lesson is clear—Jerusalem is about to fall.
Then in verse 4 Ezekiel is told to lie down on his left side for “390 days” to represent the number of years of punishment for Israel’s tribes. And then in verse 6, he is told to lie on his right side for “forty days” to represent the number of years that Judah’s tribes will suffer. He is to do this for several hours each day, not twenty-four hours a day; we know that because he is told to get up and bake bread every day, which he does (verses 9-12). What particular periods of time these numbers refer to is unclear, but they are directly related to the extent of disobedience in both Israel and Judah.
Now if that is not strange enough—to preach a silent sermon lying down—Ezekiel is told here in chapter 5, to start shaving with a sword:
“Take a sharp sword. Use it as a barber’s razor and pass it over your head and your beard. Then take balances for weighing and divide the hair. A third part you shall burn in the fire in the midst of the city . . . And a third part you shall take and strike with the sword . . . And a third part you shall scatter in the wind.” (verses 1-2)
The Lord effectively lets the exiles hear what He’s telling the people remaining in Judea in verse 12:
“A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.”
I have heard a lot of doomsday messages in my day, but nothing like this one. Judah’s idolatry and immorality (represented by Jerusalem) are going to be judged through famine, disease, and bloodshed. The exiles living in Babylon will not have a city to return to.
Now here in chapter 6, the Lord gives Ezekiel a message to be spoken. He is to be like a watchman crying out from his post on the city wall, warning of the coming judgment of God because of idolatry. The Lord speaks to the exiles through Ezekiel about those who remain rebellious in Jerusalem in verse 3:
“I will destroy your high places. Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols.” (verses 3-4)
The warning for the exiles is to move them toward
Now if you think the Lord just wants to punish people for idolatry—make them suffer for choosing immorality—then you have missed His ultimate goal.
Over and over again, the Lord makes it known that He wants His people to follow Him—to know that He alone is their faithful God and Lord of the universe. Back in verse 7, we read, “You shall know that I am the Lord.” Likewise, verse 10 says, “And they shall know that I am the Lord.” And verse 13 adds, “And you shall know that I am the Lord.”
This valley of suffering will lead the repentant to a fresh vision of God’s sovereignty. So, here in chapter 7, Ezekiel is delivering the horrific details of famine and cannibalism and murder and betrayal. This is some doomsday message, but it isn’t designed to create chaos but to awaken the whole nation and turn them to the Lord.
Ezekiel says here in verses 6-8:
“The end has come . . . your doom has come to you . . . the day is near . . . I will soon pour out my wrath upon you . . . and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations.”
Doomsday is coming for Jerusalem, but don’t miss the ultimate reason for it all: “Then you [exiles] will know that I am the Lord” (verse 9).
God’s judgment reveals who He is. He is not just a God of love; He is also a God of justice and holiness, and He will judge sin. Listen, when we understand who He is, we can run to Him for mercy and forgiveness and say, “I believe that You are the Lord.”
Unfortunately, almost all the exiles are scoffing at Ezekiel. They think he is a bit out of his mind—just a wacky doomsday prophet. But his doomsday message will come to pass. The exiles will have no city to which they can return.
Beloved, the exiles who are defying God and hoping in Jerusalem’s survival are effectively putting their hope in the Titanic. But the Titanic is heading for a collision. The priests and elders and leaders who are urging them to hope in Jerusalem’s survival are actually keeping the exiles from seeing their need to repent.
And in the end, when Jerusalem falls, God says in verse 27, “They shall know that I am the Lord.” Only then will repentance be possible.
Now what does this doomsday message say to us today? Well, for one thing, let’s remember that the kingdoms of this world are temporary. It doesn’t matter how powerful the nation is or how big the ship is; this world is like the Titanic, and the human race onboard is heading toward a final accounting before God.
This chapter from Israel’s history should remind you that since God is the Lord of the universe, He can judge you, but He can also justify you—redeem and forgive you through Jesus Christ His Son. You can defy Him and be judged one day, or you can believe His gospel and follow His Son as your Lord and Savior.
I like to think of it this way: God is navigating human history into the harbor of His sovereign will. So, when you meet Him, will you face judgment or experience joy, having given your life to His son, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Let me invite you today to declare that He is the Lord—He is your Lord.
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