“As for you son of man, prophesy. Clap your hands and let the sword come down twice, yes, three times, the sword for those to be slain… I also will clap my hands, and I will satisfy my fury; I the LORD have spoken.” - Ezekiel 21:14 & 17
This is one of dozens of times in Ezekiel that the LORD speaks of pouring out His fury or satisfying His anger. I draw attention to them because they convey an emotion that is real and personal. His anger toward Judah demands an answer. Even His promises of redemption come in a fury. As we read yesterday: As I live, declares the LORD GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you.
This persistence of the LORD’s anger is just one of the attributes that can make Ezekiel a tough read. You might respond differently, but I find that reading the prophets winds me up. There is something to the metaphor, the pacing, the raw personal style that stirs me differently than other genres. There is little nuance; the heart is laid bare. I encourage you to think about how these texts affect you – and how they might have – or should have – affected their original audience.
This emotion takes on additional life in our final chapter today, as the LORD portrays Israel and her sister Judah as prostitutes, selling themselves first to Egypt and then to Assyria and Babylon. Like with chapter 16, this extended metaphor is not for the faint of heart, and reflects the LORD’s anger in a disturbingly creative way.
But don’t get lost: remember the covenant of Sinai, where the LORD had promised: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Our verse for this week is 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Ezekiel 21 through 23. Now let’s read it!
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.