The Israelites rebelled against God; although they had the law, priest, temple and worship, their hearts were hardened, to the point that they see but do not perceive and hear but do not understand (v. 2). Likewise when we continually reject the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we too will develop a callous heart. Our eyes will not see His truth and God’s words will not have much effect on us.
God in His patience continually showed grace to His people. He gave detailed instructions to Ezekiel to act out the signs of captivity: He was to pack his bag and set out like one running away from captivity. He was to dig through the wall of his house like one who is desperate to escape and cover his face like one who is ashamed (v. 4-6). He was to tremble as he ate his meal and shudder in fear as he drank his water (v. 18). God went through all these because He desired for His people to turn and repent (v. 3), even though He fully knew their hearts. He is a God who is slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents in sending calamity- Joel 2:13. Because God is also a righteous and Holy God- He cannot tolerate sin, the symbols that Ezekiel acted out became a judgement upon the unrepentant Israelites. Those who rebel against God will ultimately face serious consequences.
God prepared answers for Ezekiel in response to the Israelites’ questions (v. 10-11, 23-25, 28). God always equip and provide for His servants when He calls them, just like He gave words to Moses to speak to Pharoah (Exodus 4:12) and food delivered by raven for Elijah during a famine (2 King 17:4). We can be sure if God calls us, He will surely provide for all the necessities.
The symbolic acts of Ezekiel were an object lesson of what is to come; the words of God spoken through Ezekiel became a reality: Zechariah, the Prince of Judah was captured, and his army was scattered. All these events were recorded in 2 King 25:1-7. We too can be sure that what the Bible said about the end times, the coming of Jesus Christ and the day of judgement, as well as the promise of an eternal dwelling place-free from death, mourning, crying or pain will all come true. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished- Matthew 5:18.
When calamities befall the people, the surviving remnants whether those taken into exile (v.15-16) or those in the war-torn land of Jerusalem would acknowledge God for who He is (v. 20). Likewise, one day at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father-Phil. 2:10-11 and Rev. 5:13.
Despite the visual and spoken warnings from Ezekiel, the people did not take it to heart; they incited God to hasten His judgement when they said ‘the days go by and every vision comes to nothing’. Some carried a nonchalant attitude for they thought the prophecies were for the distant future and therefore they would not be affected (v.27). The Israelite’s behavior provoked God to promise that every vision will be fulfilled without delay, during their days (v.23, 25, 28). We must not confuse God’s patience as His impotence, absence or lack of concern.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance- 2 Peter 3:9. Praise the Lord for His long suffering with us, may we not take Him for granted. Teach us, O God to fear you so that we will not rebel against you. — Lai Yee Leong