Ezekiel 4 Commentary

Ezekiel 4 Commentary


By the time of Ezekiel’s calling, Jeremiah had been in ministry for a long time. However, their ministries coincided in the fourth year of exiled King Jehoiachin which was Zedekiah’s fourth year. Remember that Zedekiah was a caretaker king ruling in Jerusalem instead of the exiled King Jehoiachin. Jeremiah had running battles with King Zedekiah and his establishment.

Ezekiel is among the exiles in Babylon while Jeremiah ministers to the remaining Jews in Jerusalem.

This chapter records for us the familiar events that we read about in Jeremiah. The LORD speaks to the Jews in exile through Ezekiel while Jeremiah delivers the Word to the Jews in Jerusalem. The same LORD, the same Word, two different prophets with their respective audiences, and two different ways of delivery.

But wait a minute. Is the Word the same? Yes, the siege works against Jerusalem but that’s where the similarity ends. Everything else is so strange that you feel Ezekiel is up to something else here. Gross over the non-essential details and get to the meat of the message – could that be Ezekiel’s style? The siege isn’t exactly important because these men are already in exile and won’t experience it. But there is more.

Jerusalem is under attack from two forces: antagonistic foreign armies and Ezekiel. Foreign armies succeed and Judah is exiled. Ezekiel fails and the result is the same; Judah is exiled.  Ezekiel attacks the city with his message of repentance but he fails and the city is exiled

But as a general consequence, the nation in exile faces the danger of further idolatry. Yes, there is the apparent supply of food but it’s food baked on human dung – Israel is still in a very bad position. The next best thing is cow dung. It is still bad but it is the better. The LORD encourages His people to find a form of righteousness that isn’t exactly as required but something better.

The chapter describes human life under ‘exile’ conditions. We cannot find perfection here – what saints have always yearned for, but there is a standard of righteousness acceptable to the LORD. Cow dung is better than human dung.

The mention of Israel and Judah is intentional. Israel is long gone but the scripture is discussing sin as the cause of human problems. The siege works against Jerusalem are simply an example. The difficult assignment for Ezekiel boils down to this: human mediation for the sins of humanity is mission impossible! Ezekiel is permanently prevented from intervening by the iron wall.

Ezekiel’s messages are complex, comparable with the infinitely complex vision of the physical manifestation of the presence of the LORD at the beginning of his book.

More resources visit http://www.lovingscripture.com

Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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