Ezekiel 24 • What if God Wanted to Make YOU a “Sign”?
This is a relatively short lesson about how seriously God feels about our sin. The context is the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem, and how Ezekiel is to communicate the seriousness of the situation. The lesson that Ezekiel had to share is not one he had ever imagined.
Read verses 1-4
Q: What is the context of the situation? (That is, what has happened?) How did Ezekiel know that this event was taking place?
A: Nebuchadnezzar has begun his siege of Jerusalem. Remember that the false prophets in Babylon were saying that this would never happen. The date was January 15, 588 bc and is significant. It coincides with Nebuchadnezzar’s annals and Jeremiah’s records (2 Kings 25:1) regarding the exact day the siege began. Ezekiel knew because God told him. The siege would last about two-and-a-half years.
Q: What does the boiling pot represent?
Read verse 5
Q: In verse 5, what do the “choicest of the flock” represent? The wood?
A: These pieces represent the royalty and priesthood still in Jerusalem. They represent the choicest of the people. They could also represent those who were not taken in the deportation of 597 bc, believing that they were the “chosen” ones because God had seen them as good enough to spare. These choice pieces are going to get boiled vigorously in the pot. The “wood” represents Nebuchadnezzar’s siege equipment.
Read verse 6
Q: What is the meaning of verse 6?
A: The pot has impurities (rust) in it. The pieces will be taken out without regard for importance and deported to Babylon.
Read verses 7-8
Q: What’s the meaning of verses 7-8?
A: That in their sacrifices and even murders, they left blood exposed openly which was a violation of the Law. Open blood defiled the land. Because the people have been rebellious about this matter, God will now pour their own blood out on the bare rock.
Read verses 9-11
Q: What’s the meaning of verses 10-11?
A: The implication is that whatever is leftover in the pot will be boiled away until there is no more water. The pot will glow—it will be so hot—that the impurities may be cleansed.
Read verses 12-13
Q: In verse 13, will the pot eventually be clean, and what must happen first?
A: The uncleanness of the land will be cleansed first by judgment (wrath) and then the people will return. So God is going to “sterilize” the pot before He allows the Jews to come back and resettle.
Read verses 14
Q: What is the level of God’s determination in verse 14?
A: Very high. There is nothing anyone can do about it.
How do the principles here reflect on the state of the nation, of the Church, and of the individual believer?
How do the principles here reflect on the future of mankind?
Read verses 15-24
Note: One’s first reaction to the phrase “the desire of your eyes” would be that it is referring to lust or to sin. But in this context the “desire” is a good thing, meaning that which is “precious is one’s sight.”
Q: How is Ezekiel’s wife referred to, and what happens to her?
A: She is referred to as “the desire of your eyes.” This phrase may have been a colloquialism that was used to refer to one’s spouse. “With a blow” (“with one blow” in the NIV) refers probably to something happening suddenly, such as a stroke or heart attack. (Note: The NIV notes assume that this event takes place in conjunction with the destruction of the temple on August 14, 586. That assumption is debatable.)
Q: What does Ezekiel’s wife represent?
A: She represents the temple which was the desire of the eyes of the people; that is, that which represented something of supreme value.
Q: Why does God take Ezekiel’s wife and not the wife of one of the elders in Babylon? That is, what else does Ezekiel’s wife represent, and who else does the temple represent?
A: God takes the desire of Ezekiel’s eyes because Ezekiel is entirely innocent. Because the Jews were not at all innocent, the implication is that the righteous must suffer because of the sins of the unrighteous. Therefore, God is suffering because He is going to have to reject the desire of His eyes, His temple. This also points ahead to the cross of Christ, where the Son is forsaken by the Father who allows His Son’s “temple” to be destroyed (yet raised up again in 3 days). This makes verse 13 even more powerful because Christ became unclean and filthy for us. Therefore, God poured out His wrath on His own Son.
Q: How is this principle applicable to believers today? How do we make personal application?
A: The application is that for the sake of those who are the “unrighteous” (unbelievers), the righteous will often suffer.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
— Matthew 5:10-16
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
— Matthew 5:38-48
"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
— 2 Timothy 3:12
Q: What things or persons in your life are the desire of your eyes?
A: Name these things. Spouses, children, health, will be named, as well as goals or ideals. So the question is, “Is it possible that God may take these things from us as a part of His plan?” What would be our reaction to God? It would probably be that we’re being punished. But we can see in the case of Ezekiel that it was not for punishment that his wife was taken, but as a “sign.”
Q: The final question is, “What would be your reaction if God wanted to make YOU a ‘sign’?”