We have here,
I. The notice God gives to Ezekiel in Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar’s laying siege to Jerusalem, just at the time when he was doing it (Ezek. 24:2): “Son of man, take notice, the king of Babylon, who is now abroad with his army, thou knowest not where, set himself against Jerusalem this same day.” It was many miles, it was many days’ journey, from Jerusalem to Babylon. Perhaps the last intelligence they had from the army was that the design was upon Rabbath of the children of Ammon and that the campaign was to be opened with the siege of that city. But God knew, and could tell the prophet, “This day, at this time, Jerusalem is invested, and the Chaldean army has sat down before it.” Note, As all times, so all places, even the most remote, are present with God and under his view. He tells the prophet, that the prophet might tell the people, that so when it proved to be punctually true, as they would find by the public intelligence in a little time, it might be a confirmation of the prophet’s mission, and they might infer that, since he was right in his news, he was so in his predictions, for he owed both to the same correspondence he had with Heaven.
II. The notice which he orders him to take of it. He must enter it in his book, memorandum, that in the ninth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity (for thence Ezekiel dated, Ezek. 1:2; which was also the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, for he began to reign when Jehoiachin was carried off), in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem; and the date here agrees exactly with the date in the history, 2 Kgs. 25:1. See how God reveals things to his servants the prophets, especially those things which serve to confirm their word, and so to confirm their own faith. Note, It is good to keep an exact account of the date of remarkable occurrences, which may sometimes contribute to the manifesting of God’s glory so much the more in them, and the explaining and confirming of scripture prophecies. Known unto God are all his works.
III. The notice which he orders him to give to the people thereupon, the purport of which is that this siege of Jerusalem, now begun, will infallibly end in the ruin of it. This he must say to the rebellious house, to those of them that were in Babylon, to be by them communicated to those that were yet in their own land. A rebellious house will soon be a ruinous house.
1. He must show them this by a sign; for that stupid people needed to be taught as children are. The comparison made use of is that of a boiling pot. This agrees with Jeremiah’s vision many years before, when he first began to be a prophet, and probably was designed to put them in mind of that (Jer. 1:13; I see a seething pot, with the face towards the north; and the explanation of it, Ezek. 24:15; makes it to signify the besieging of Jerusalem by the northern nations); and, as this comparison is intended to confirm Jeremiah’s vision, so also to confront the vain confidence of the princes of Jerusalem, who had said (Ezek. 11:3), This city is the caldron and we are the flesh, meaning, “We are as safe here as if we were surrounded with walls of brass.” “Well,” says God, “it shall be so; you shall be boiled in Jerusalem, as the flesh in the caldron, boiled to pieces; let the pot be set on with water in it (Ezek. 24:4); let it be filled with the flesh of the choice of the flock (Ezek. 24:5), with the choice pieces (Ezek. 24:4), and the marrow-bones, and let the other bones serve for fuel, that, one way or other, either in the pot or under it, the whole beast may be made use of.” A fire of bones, though it be a slow fire (for the siege was to be long), is yet a sure and lasting fire; such was God’s wrath against them, and not like the crackling of thorns under a pot, which has noise and blaze, but no intense heat. Those that from all parts of the country fled into Jerusalem for safety would be sadly disappointed when the siege laid to it would soon make the place too hot for them; and yet there was not getting out of it, but they must be forced to abide by it, as the flesh in a boiling pot.
2. He must give them a comment upon this sign. It is to be construed as a woe to the bloody city, Ezek. 24:6. And again (Ezek. 24:9), being bloody, let it go to pot, to be boiled; that is the fittest place for it. Let us here see,
(1.) What is the course God takes with it. Jerusalem, during the siege, is like a pot boiling over the fire, all in a heat, all in a hurry. [1.] Care is taken to keep a good fire under the pot, which signifies the closeness of the siege, and the many vigorous attacks made upon the city by the besiegers, and especially the continued wrath of God burning against them (Ezek. 24:9): I will make the pile for fire great. Commission is given to the Chaldeans (Ezek. 24:10) to heap on wood, and kindle the fire, to make Jerusalem more and more hot to the inhabitants. Note, The fire which God kindles for the consuming of impenitent sinners shall never abate, much less go out, for want of fuel. Tophet has fire and much wood, Isa. 30:33. [2.] The meat, as it is boiled, is taken out, and given to the Chaldeans for them to feast upon. “Consume the flesh; let it be thoroughly boiled, boiled to rags. Spice it well, and make it savoury, for those that will fees sweetly upon it. Let the bones be burnt.” either the bones under the pot (“let them be consumed with the other fuel”) or, as some think, the bones in the pot—“let it boil so furiously that not only the flesh may be sodden, but even the bones softened; let all the inhabitants of Jerusalem be by sickness, sword, and famine, reduced to the extremity of misery.” And then (Ezek. 24:6), “Bring it out piece by piece; let every man be delivered into the enemy’s hand, to be either put to the sword or made a prisoner. Let them be an easy prey to them, and let the Chaldeans fall upon them as eagerly as a hungry man does upon a good dish of meat when it is set before him. Let no lot fall upon it; every piece in the pot shall be fetched out and devoured, first or last, and therefore it is no matter for casting lots which shall be fetched out first.” It was a very severe military execution when David measured Joab with two lines to put to death and one full line to keep alive, 2 Sam. 8:2. But here is no line, no lot of mercy, made use of; all goes one way, and that is to destruction. [3.] When all the broth is boiled away the pot is set empty upon the coals, that it may burn too, which signifies the setting of the city on fire, Ezek. 24:11. The scum of the meat, or (as some translate it) the rust of the meat, has so got into the pot that there is no making it clean by washing or scouring it, and therefore it must be done by fire; so let the filthiness be burnt out of it, or, rather, melted in it and burnt with it. Let the vipers and their nest be consumed together.
(2.) What is the quarrel God has with it. He would not take these severe methods with Jerusalem but that he is provoked to it; she deserves to be thus dealt with, for, [1.] It is a bloody city (Ezek. 24:7, 8): Her blood is in the midst of her. Many a barbarous murder has been committed in the very heart of the city; nay, and they have a disposition to cruelty in their hearts; they inwardly delight in blood-shed, and so it is in the midst of them. Nay, they commit their murders in the face of the sun, and openly and impudently avow them, in defiance of the justice both of God and man. She did not pour out the blood she shed upon the ground, to cover it with dust, as being ashamed of the sin or afraid of the punishment. She did not look upon it as a filthy thing, proper to be concealed (Deut. 23:13), much less dangerous. Nay, she poured out the innocent blood she shed upon a rock, where it would not soak in, upon the top of a rock, in despite of divine views and vengeance. They shed innocent blood under colour of justice; so that they gloried in it, as if they had done God and the country good service, so put it, as it were, on the top of a rock. Or it may refer to the sacrificing of their children on their high places, perhaps on the top of rocks. Now thus they caused fury to come up and take vengeance, Ezek. 24:8. It could not be avoided but that God must in anger visit for these things; his soul must be avenged on such a nation as this. It is absolutely necessary that such a bloody city as this should have blood given her to drink, for she is worthy, for the vindicating of the honour of divine justice. And, the crime having been public and notorious, it is fit that the punishment should be so too: I have set her blood on the top of a rock. Jerusalem was to be made an example, and therefore was made a spectacle, to the world; God dealt with her according to the law of retaliation. It is fit that those who sin before all should be rebuked before all; and that the reputation of those should not be consulted by the concealment of their punishment who were so impudent as not to desire the concealment of their sin. [2.] It is a filthy city. Great notice is taken, in this explanation of the comparison, of the scum of this pot, which signifies the sin of Jerusalem, working up and appearing when the judgments of God were upon her. It is the pot whose scum is therein and has not gone out of it, Ezek. 24:6. The great scum that went not forth out of her (Ezek. 24:12), that stuck to the pot when all was boiled away, and was molten in it (Ezek. 24:11), some of this runs over into the fire (Ezek. 24:12), inflames that, and makes it burn the more furiously, but it shall all be consumed at last, Ezek. 24:11. When the hand of God had gone out against them, instead of humbling themselves under it, repenting and reforming, and accepting the punishment of their iniquity, they grew more impudent and outrageous in sin, quarrelled with God, persecuted his prophets, were fierce to one another, enraged to the last degree against the Chaldeans, snarled at the stone, gnawed their chain, and were like a wild bull in a net. This as their scum; in their distress they trespassed yet more against the Lord, like that king Ahaz, 2 Chron. 28:22. There is little hope of those who are made worse by that which should make them better, whose corruptions are excited an exasperated by those rebukes both of the word and of the providence of God which were designed for the suppressing and subduing of them, or of those whose scum boiled up once in convictions, and confessions of sin, as if it would be taken off by reformation, but afterwards returned again, in a revolt from their good overtures; and the heart that seemed softened is hardened again. This was Jerusalem’s case: She has wearied with lies, wearied her God with purposes and promises of amendment, which she never stood to, wearied herself with her carnal confidences, which have all deceived her, Ezek. 24:12. Note, Those that follow after lying vanities weary themselves with the pursuit. Now see her doom, Ezek. 24:13, 14. Because she is incurably wicked she is abandoned to ruin, without remedy. First, Methods and means of reformation had been tried in vain (Ezek. 24:13): “In thy filthiness is lewdness; thou hast become obstinate and impudent in it; thou hast got a habit of it, which is confirmed by frequent acts. In thy filthiness thee is a rooted lewdness; as appears by this, I have purged thee and thou wast not purged. I have given thee medicine, but it has done thee no good. I have used the means of cleansing thee, but they have been ineffectual; the intention of them has not been answered.” Note, It is sad to think how many there are on whom ordinances and providences are all lost. Secondly, It is therefore resolved that no more such methods shall be sued: Thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more. The fire shall no longer be a refining fire, but a consuming fire, and therefore shall not be mitigated and shortened, as it has been, but shall be continued in extremity, till it has done its destroying work. Note, Those that will not be healed are justly given up and their case adjudged desperate. There is a day coming when it will be said, He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. Thirdly, Nothing remains then but to bring them to utter ruin: I will cause my fury to rest upon thee. This is the same with what is said of the later Jews, that wrath has come upon them to the uttermost, 1 Thess. 2:16. They deserve it: According to thy doings they shall judge thee, Ezek. 24:14. And God will do it. The sentence is bound on with repeated ratifications, that they might be awakened to see how certain their ruin was: “I the Lord have spoken it, who am able to make good what I have spoken; it shall come to pass, nothing shall prevent it, for I will do it myself, I will not go back upon any entreaties; the decree has gone forth, and I will not spare in compassion to them, neither will I repent.” He will neither change his mind nor his way. Hereby the prophet was forbidden to interceded for them, and they were forbidden to flatter themselves with hopes of an escape. God hath said it, and he will do it. Note, The declarations of God’s wrath against sinners are as inviolable as the assurances he has given of favour to his people; and the case of such is sad indeed, who have brought it to this issue, that either God must be false or they must be damned.