Word of Jerusalem’s Capture
In the twelfth year of our exile [in Babylon], on the fifth of the tenth month, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been captured.” Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me in the evening, before the survivor came. And He [a]opened my mouth at the time he came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened [in readiness] and I was no longer mute.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, those [back in Palestine] who inhabit these ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was [only] one man and he took possession of the land, but we are many; the land has [most certainly] been given to us [to possess] as property.’ Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “You eat meat with the blood in it and raise your eyes to your idols and shed blood. Should you take possession of the land? You rely on your sword [as your security]; you commit outrageous and disgraceful acts and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then take possession of the land?”’ You shall say this to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “As I live, those who are in the ruins certainly will fall by the sword, and I will give whoever is in the open field to the [predatory] animals to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves will die of virulent diseases. And I will make the land [of Israel] a desolation and a ruin, and her pride in her power will be brought to an end; and the mountains of Israel will be so deserted that no one will pass through. Then they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolation and a ruin because of all the atrocities which they have committed.”’
“But as for you, son of man, your people who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses say one to another, every one to his brother, ‘Come now and hear what the message is that comes from the Lord.’ They come to you as people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not practice them; for with their mouth they express loving devotion, but their heart goes after their (unlawful) gain. Behold, you are to them like a love song by one who has a pleasant voice and plays well on a stringed instrument [merely to entertain them]; for they hear your words but do not practice them. So when it comes to pass—as it most certainly will—then they will know [without any doubt] that a prophet has been among them.”
- Ezekiel 33:22 See note 24:27.
Prophecy against the Shepherds of Israel
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, the [spiritual] shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe (judgment is coming) to the [spiritual] shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat [the choicest of meat], and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the best of the livestock, but you do not feed the flock. You have not strengthened those who are weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bandaged the crippled, you have not brought back those gone astray, you have not looked for the lost; but you have ruled them with force and violence. They were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the predators of the field. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the face of the earth and no one searched or sought them.”’”
Therefore, you [spiritual] shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “certainly because My flock has become prey, My flock has even become food for every predator of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you [spiritual] shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My flock from them and make them stop tending the flock, so that the shepherds cannot feed themselves anymore. I will rescue My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”
The Restoration of Israel
For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My flock and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his sheep on the day that he is among his scattered flock, so I will care for My sheep; and I will rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock and I will let them lie down [to rest],” says the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bandage the crippled, and strengthen the weak and the sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong [who have become hard-hearted and perverse]. I will feed them with judgment and punishment.
“And as for you, My flock, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats [between the righteous and the unrighteous]. Is it too little a thing for you that you [unrighteous ones who are well-fed] feed in the best pasture, yet you must trample down with your feet [of wickedness] the rest of your pastures? Or that you drink clear [still] water, yet you must muddy with your feet [of wickedness] the rest [of the water]? As for My flock (the righteous), they must feed on what you trample with your feet and drink what you muddy with your feet!’”
Therefore thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I Myself will judge between the [well-fed] fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and gore with your horns all those that have become weak and sick until you have scattered them away, therefore, I will rescue My flock, and they shall no longer be prey; and I will judge between one sheep [ungodly] and another [godly].
“Then I will appoint over them one shepherd and he will feed them, [a ruler like] My servant [a]David; he will feed them and be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David will be a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them and will eliminate the predatory animals from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep [safely] in the woods. I will make them and the places around My hill (Jerusalem, Zion) a blessing. And I will make showers come down in their season; there will be [abundant] showers of blessing (divine favor). Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its produce; and My people will be secure on their land. Then they will know [with confidence] that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have rescued them from the hand of those who made them slaves. They will no longer be prey to the nations, and the predators of the earth will not devour them; but they will live safely, and no one will make them afraid [in the [b]day of the Messiah’s reign]. I will prepare for them a place renowned for planting [crops], and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations any longer. Then they will know [with assurance] that I the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God. “As for you, My flock, the flock of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord God.
- Ezekiel 34:23 The name of David is used here as in Ezek 34:24; 37:24, 25; Jer 30:9; Hos 3:5, to represent the Messiah, not the man, David king of Israel. It is believed that this Messianic prophecy would have been understood by Ezekiel’s audience.
- Ezekiel 34:28 One day when Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), He was handed the roll of the book of Isaiah to read aloud. He turned to Is 61, which tells what His coming to the world would mean. Jesus read only a few lines of the chapter, stopping in the middle of a sentence, and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). He had just read of His coming to preach the Gospel, to proclaim release to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to set free the bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. He stopped there, for the rest of the chapter could not be fulfilled until His second coming, of which Isaiah’s prophecy tells. The following section in Ezekiel (vv 24-31) is telling about the same Messianic reign of which so many Scripture passages speak, the Messianic reign for which Jesus promised to return to earth (Matt 24:30; 25:31-34; Rev 1:7, 8; see also Luke 1:32, 33; Acts 1:10, 11).
Prophecy against Mount Seir
Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir (Edom), and prophesy against it and say to it, ‘Thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, Mount Seir, I am against you,
And I will stretch out My hand against you
And make you completely desolate.
“I will destroy your cities
And you will become a wasteland.
Then you shall know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.
Because you [descendants of Esau] have had an everlasting hatred [for Jacob (Israel)] and you handed over the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their tragedy, at the time of their final punishment [the Babylonian conquest], therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will hand you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you since you have not hated bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. I will make Mount Seir (Edom) a ruin and a desolate wasteland and I will cut off from it the one who passes through it and the one who returns. I will fill its mountains with its slain; those killed by the sword will fall on your hills, and in your valleys, and in all your ravines. I will make you an everlasting desolation and your [a]cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.
“Because you [descendants of Esau] have said, ‘These two nations [Israel and Judah] and these two lands shall be mine, and we will take possession of them,’ although the Lord was there, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will deal with you in accordance with the anger and envy you showed because of your hatred for them; and I will make Myself known among them [as Judge] when I judge and punish you. Then you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord, and that I have heard all your scornful speeches which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They have been made a wasteland; they have been given to us as food.’ So you have boasted and spoken arrogantly against Me, and have multiplied your words against Me; I have heard it.” Thus says the Lord God, “While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you a wasteland. As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it was desolate, so I will do to you; you will be a desolate waste, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.”’
- Ezekiel 35:9 The Edomites gave whatever help they could to Nebuchadnezzar when he captured Judah (Ps 137:7; Obad 11-14). Later these cousins of the Israelites were pushed out of their own country into southern Judea; Hebron became their chief city. When in a.d. 70 the Romans under Titus besieged Jerusalem, Josephus says that the Edomites joined the Jews in rebellion against the attackers, and 20,000 were admitted into the city as defenders of the Holy City. But once in, they pillaged the city, raping and killing, not even sparing the priests—though these traitors themselves had been previously forced to become circumcised and recognized as Jews. The Roman conqueror destroyed them, and Edom ceased to be. The forecasts of the prophets regarding Edom are in striking contrast to those of their neighbors, Moab and Ammon. The latter two countries were to suffer great and severe judgments, as was Edom. But restoration and renewed prosperity were promised to them “in the latter days” (Jer 48:47; 49:6), while Edom was never to be rebuilt.