Chapter 12:8-16 (ESV) - In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.’ Say, ‘I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them. They shall go into exile, into captivity.’ And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder at dusk, and shall go out. They shall dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the Lord.”
Question to consider: Why did people ask Ezekiel what he was doing?
The Lord had Ezekiel pack his belongings, dig a hole in a wall, and pretend that he was going into exile even though he was performing this among those already exiled to Babylon. Since receiving his very first vision, the only time Ezekiel could talk was when he was relaying the exact words of God. So he must have looked like a pantomime without the face paint using props. It’s no surprise that people would see this and ask him, “What are you doing?”
Ezekiel responded with God’s word that those who were still in Jerusalem were about to be taken into captivity. The “prince” who was among them was actually king Zedekiah. Ezekiel always referred to him as a prince because the true king, Jehoiachin, had already been exiled. The prophecy played out in 2 Kings 25:1-7, “And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, and the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.”
So when God spoke through Ezekiel that the prince would not see the land of the Chaldeans, it was because they took his eyes so that the last thing he saw was the slaughter of his sons.
Those who remained in Jerusalem would either die (by sword, pestilence, or famine) or be scattered all over the world to be a witness of God’s judgment against them. It’s at this point where the Latter Day Saints would say in the Book of Mormon that Nephi would escape with other Israelites on a ship that God would commission him to build around the time of Ezekiel’s vision. Outside of the fact that privileged citizens of Jerusalem would probably not be known for their nautical skills, the story is predicated on those who escaped being lauded for their righteousness according to the Law even though God’s description of them to Ezekiel was a hard-hearted, rebellious house.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your word, and for the fulfillment of it in history. Help us to recognize the false teachings of this age by comparing them to what has clearly been given to us thousands of years ago. Amen.