James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem:Ezekiel 4:1-7:27
SECOND VISION OF GLORY
Remember that in the first part of this book, chapters 1-24, we are dealing with prophecies before the siege of Jerusalem and foretelling its overthrow. The present lesson begins at Ezekiel 3:22. (Compare v. 23 with Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 1:24 with Ezekiel 2:2; and Acts 2:4; Acts 4:31.) Verse 25 is to be taken figuratively. (Compare 2 Corinthians 6:11-12.) The same is true of verse 26, which means that as Israel had rejected the words of the prophets hitherto, the time had now come when God would deprive them of those words for the time being at least (1 Samuel 7:2; Amos 8:11-12).
THE SIGN OF THE TILE (Ezekiel 4)
The sign (Ezekiel 4:1-3) and those that follow immediately, were symbolic testimonies to the wickedness of the nation as well as prophetic of the coming siege. It is common to say that these things were performed in vision and not in external action, but we can hardly be sure of that. At all events the tile represents that God has set a wall of separation between Him and the nation, that cannot be forced through. The second action, lying first on one side and then the other, (Ezekiel 4:4-8) supplements the first.
The third, eating the coarse and polluted bread, and by weight, is explained in the closing verses of the chapter (Ezekiel 4:16-17; compare Jeremiah 52:6). As to Ezekiel 4:12, the Arabs use beasts’ dung for fuel, as wood is scarce, but to use that of man implies the most awful need. As to do so was in violation of the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 14:3; Deuteronomy 23:12-14), the command to the prophet, symbolized that now God’s people were, as a judicial punishment, to be outwardly blended with the heathen (Deuteronomy 28:68; Hosea 9:3).
THE SIGN OF THE HAIR (Ezekiel 5-7)
This symbol (Ezekiel 5:1-4) is explained in the rest of the chapter. The “knife” or “razor” was the sword of the enemy which God would use. The whole hair being shaven was a sign of humiliation (2 Samuel 10:4-5). “Balances” expresses God’s discrimination in the coming judgments. The “hairs” are the people in this case. One third was to be killed, another destroyed by famine and pestilence, and the remainder scattered among the Gentiles. The few to escape were symbolized by the hairs bound in Ezekiel’s skirts, and even of these some were to pass a further ordeal (Ezekiel 5:3-4). Compare these last-named verses with the story of the remnant in Jerusalem in Jeremiah 40-44.
Chapters 6 and 7 are a continuation of the subject of chapter 5, which our familiarity with the prophets preceding will simplify for us. The first of these may be divided into three parts. Ezekiel 6:1-7 contain a message against Israel; Ezekiel 6:8-10, speak of that “remnant” which God always promised to spare because of their repentance, while the rest of the chapter, and the whole of chapter 7, is filled with the desolations God shall send upon the land for its iniquity.
1. What characterizes the prophecies of the first 24 chapters of this book?
2. Have you read 1 Samuel 7:2 and Amos 8:11-12?
3. To what do the symbols of chapter witness?
4. What is symbolized by the coarse bread eaten by weight?
5. Give the interpretation of the symbol of the hair in your own words.
6. Have you refreshed your recollection by re-reading Jeremiah 40-44?
7. Analyze chapter 6.