312 - The Truth Is Told (Ezekiel 12–14)
Once we turn away from God’s revelation, we can convince ourselves of just about anything. But this does not change reality in any way, and it certainly does not change God. Only when we submit to the truth of His Word can we find peace, assurance, and hope.
The Truth Is Told
Some people just can’t stand the reality of the truth—especially if the truth is bad news. Take, for instance, the husband who came home from work after a very long and difficult day. He said to his wife, “Honey, I’ve had nothing but bad news at the office all day today. If there’s one thing I don’t want to hear, it’s more bad news.” She said, “Well, in that case, you’ll be glad to know that three out of our four children didn’t break their arm at school today.”
As we arrive at Ezekiel chapter 12, the prophet is surrounded by exiles who do not want to hear any bad news. They are in for a rude awakening.
The problem is basically this: both the Israelites who are still back in Judah and the exiles already in Babylon are refusing to listen to God’s true prophets. Jeremiah is preaching in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel is preaching to the exiles in Babylon, but the people will not listen. Those in Judah are convinced Jerusalem will never fall. Those in captivity in Babylon are convinced they will be returning home any day now.
They are all simply refusing to hear any bad news about the coming judgment of God. Ultimately, of course, the people do not listen to the Lord because they do not really know Him. They have abandoned Him and are trying to ignore Him.
What God is going to bring on them, as described in these next chapters, will make something so clear to them that it cannot be ignored any longer. Eight times in chapters 12 through 14, they are going to hear some version of this statement: “They shall know that I am the Lord.”
Once again, the Lord tells Ezekiel to reinforce his previous prophecies to the exiles of coming judgment on Jerusalem by using object lessons. Here in chapter 12, we see the captivity depicted.
The Lord says to Ezekiel in verse 3:
“Prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.”
The prophet is to act out the part of one going into exile. According to verse 5, he is to dig through the wall of his house in desperation and go out at night carrying in a bag only what is essential. This is all to be done publicly so the people can see him doing this and understand the meaning.
In case they don’t get it, the Lord tells Ezekiel in verse 11 to spell it out for them by saying, “As I have done, so shall it be done to the people in Jerusalem. They shall go into exile, into captivity.” In verse 12, the Lord adds, “The prince who is among them shall . . . go out.” This is the king of Judah, Zedekiah, of whom the Lord says, “I will bring him to Babylon . . . yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there” (verse 13).
This fascinating prophecy will be fulfilled when King Zedekiah is taken captive and blinded before being taken to Babylon (2 Kings 25:6-7). He is taken to Babylon, but he does not see it.
In verse 22 the Lord mentions a popular proverb among the exiles: “The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing.” In other words, they have decided that nothing will come of these prophecies from Ezekiel. The delay in fulfillment has led them to think they can ignore Ezekiel’s warning. This is false hope. They are just like the people of Noah’s day who took the absence of rain all those years as reason to ignore Noah’s warning.
God replies in verse 28: “None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed.” Judgment and captivity is just around the corner for Jerusalem.
Next, Ezekiel takes on the false prophets. They have been telling the people in exile to keep their suitcases packed because they are about to head home. So here in chapter 13, we see the false prophets discredited.
The Lord says here in verse 3, “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” And then in verse 6, “They have seen false visions and lying divinations. . . . The Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.”
Some things never change. In Ezekiel’s time, in Jesus’ time, in our time, there are plenty of people who pretend to have a message from God. And it is nothing more than deception. Their so-called prophecies are intended to increase their power over people or their personal bank account.
I read the other day about a preacher who wanted his congregation to give him gifts of $52. He called them favor seeds. He suggested that everybody who gave him $52 would be rewarded by God with a breakthrough favor within 52 days or 52 weeks. What he wanted was the money to upgrade the blades on his helicopter, which was going to cost him $50,000.
This man’s $52 promise did not have anything to do with prophecy. It had everything to do with the greed of a false prophet.
These false prophets in Babylon were doing the same thing. They were not updating helicopters, but they were deceiving their followers.
And they were not the only ones, either. In chapter 14, we find that the elders are misleading the exiles as well.
These elders come to Ezekiel, supposedly to ask him for advice. But God is not impressed, because he knows them. In verse 3, He says to Ezekiel, “These men have taken their idols into their hearts.” They were respectable outwardly but rebellious inwardly. God says to them, through Ezekiel, in verse 6. “Repent and turn away from your idols.”
Listen, you might not want bad news. You might only want to hear somebody tell you, “You’re okay. You can go chase those idols and pleasures and promises of the world. Don’t worry; you’ll be fine.” The truth is that those who speak such words are false prophets, and their false promises will lead you astray.
And so, Ezekiel chapter 14 ends where chapter 12 began—with the certainty of coming judgment on Jerusalem. Here we see Judah’s hopes dashed.
The Lord says in verse 21 that He has determined to send upon Judah “four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence.” Whether the people of Judah want to hear the bad news or not, Jerusalem is going to fall. So, are they without hope? Oh no, there is always hope for those who will repent of their sin and follow the Lord. There will, indeed, be a remnant of people who turn to Him in faith.
I have talked to many people over the years who do not want to hear the bad news of the gospel. They don’t want to be told that the Bible says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). I have had people just walk away after hearing that. I have had people say that is not the God they would ever believe in. They just will not listen to bad news.
But for those who will accept the bad news that they are sinners, there is hope. It is not in a delusion, not in blind optimism, but in believing the gospel, the good news of Christ, and placing their hope and trust in the one who has promised to save them.
How about you? You need to believe the bad news today—that sin will be judged by God. You need to believe the good news—that sinners can be saved from the judgment of God by placing their lives in the hands of Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.
 The title here is taken from Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken’s study of Ezekiel titled, That You May Know the Lord (W & E Publishing, 2016).
 Michael Hodgin, 1001 More Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking (Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 231.
 “Prosperity Preacher Seeks Helicopter Upgrade,” Ministry Watch, September 27, 2013, ministrywatch.com.
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