Chapter 33:21-29 (ESV) - In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.” Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, the inhabitants of these waste places in the land of Israel keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he got possession of the land; but we are many; the land is surely given us to possess.’ Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God: You eat flesh with the blood and lift up your eyes to your idols and shed blood; shall you then possess the land? You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife; shall you then possess the land? Say this to them, Thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely those who are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves shall die by pestilence. And I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and her proud might shall come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that none will pass through. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations that they have committed.
Question to consider: What personal event happened in the life of Ezekiel which pointed to the city being struck down and his mouth being opened?
From the beginning of today’s passage we learn that Ezekiel’s mouth was opened the evening before Ezekiel would receive the news that Jerusalem had been struck down. According to chapter 24, Ezekiel was given a word in the ninth year, the tenth month, and the tenth day of the month that the city would be struck down (almost three years before the event). As a sign that Ezekiel was speaking the word of the Lord, he was given the hard task of prophetically announcing the death of his dear wife at the beginning of the day it happened even though she was young and healthy. God commanded Ezekiel not to mourn the death of his wife and kept his tongue silent, but God promised Ezekiel that when Jerusalem fell, he would no longer be mute.
By proclaiming the death of his dear, young wife on the very day it happened, Ezekiel had proved that he was a true prophet of God, and yet instead of heeding his warnings about the coming judgment on Jerusalem, the inhabitants of the land of Israel kept repeating the voice of the false prophets who said that surely God’s promise to Abraham of possessing the land still applied to them. Yet God posed the question through Ezekiel of how they could still consider themselves worthy to possess the land while they continued to ignore His precepts, shed innocent blood, and worshiped idols? Instead the Lord would make the land desolate, and the unfaithful people would be cut down or left to die by disease and pestilence. In giving this warning over and over again for three years, Israel would know that the Lord allowed their land to become desolate because of their abominations.
Ezekiel knew the city had fallen the night before he received word of it because he was no longer mute. I’m sure his fellow exiles were shocked when Ezekiel began to speak after being silent for a decade (outside of repeating the direct word of the Lord) and even more so when his first words were that the reason his mouth was opened was because Jerusalem had been struck down by Babylon. Imagine their reaction when a survivor of the siege showed up the next morning to verify that their city was gone.
Dear Lord, You demonstrated that You were the Messiah when You proclaimed Your death and resurrection before it happened. Your prophetic warnings of Jerusalem’s fall went unheeded in that generation, and people were cut down by the Romans and left to die by disease and pestilence in the same way as was done by Babylon centuries before. With these two realities fixed in history, may we trust in Your promise to redeem us from the judgment that is to come. Amen.