On January 15, during the ninth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the Lord . . . “Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits Jerusalem, the city of murderers! She is a cooking pot whose corruption can’t be cleaned out. Take the meat out in random order, for no piece is better than another. For the blood of her murders is splashed on the rocks. It isn’t even spilled on the ground, where the dust could cover it! So I will splash her blood on a rock for all to see, an expression of my anger and vengeance against her.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits Jerusalem, the city of murderers! I myself will pile up the fuel beneath her. Yes, heap on the wood! Let the fire roar to make the pot boil. Cook the meat with many spices, and afterward burn the bones.
“Now set the empty pot on the coals. Heat it red hot! Burn away the filth and corruption. But it’s hopeless; the corruption can’t be cleaned out. So throw it into the fire. Your impurity is your lewdness and the corruption of your idolatry. I tried to cleanse you, but you refused. So now you will remain in your filth until my fury against you has been satisfied.” (Ezekiel 24:1, 6-13)
Ezekiel gave this illustration in 588 b.c., three years after the first of his previous messages (20:1-2). The people in Judah thought they were “choice meat” because they hadn’t been taken into captivity in 597 when the Babylonians last invaded the land. Ezekiel used this illustration before (chapter 11) to show that though the people thought they were safe and secure inside the cooking pot, this pot would actually be the place of their destruction. This message was given to the exiles in Babylonia the very day that the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem (Ezekiel 24:2), beginning a siege that lasted over two years and resulted in the city’s destruction. As promised, God’s punishment was relentless.
God wanted to cleanse the lives of those who lived in Jerusalem, and he wants to cleanse our lives today. Sometimes he tries to purify us through troublesome circumstances. When you face tough times, look at your problems as an opportunity for your faith to grow. When these times come, unnecessary priorities and diversions are purged away. We can reexamine our lives so that we will do what really counts.