12 The word of the Eternal One came to me again, this time over two days.
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, you are living among a rebellious lot. They have eyes, but they do not see. They have ears, but they do not hear. They are a rebellious lot. 3 Because of this, son of man, act as if you are being sent into exile. I want you to go pack your bag and go about from one place to another so that everyone can see you leaving. Then perhaps they will understand what you’re demonstrating, although they are a rebellious lot. 4 During the day, bring out the bag you have packed for the journey where they can see you; in the evening, while they watch, leave the city as if you are going into exile. 5 While they are watching you leave, dig out an opening in the wall—as if you were escaping—and carry your bag through it. 6 Put your bag over your shoulder, and while everyone is watching, carry it out into the dark. Cover your face so that you don’t see the land. I have made you a sign of the coming destruction of Jerusalem to the people of Israel.
7 So I did exactly what He told me to do. During the day, I brought out my bag as if it were an exile’s bag. Then in the evening, I dug out an opening in the wall with my hands. I put my bag over my shoulder and carried it out into the dark. People watched as I acted out all of this.
8 The word of the Eternal came to me the next morning and told me how to explain the sign to the exiles.
Eternal One: 9 Son of man, haven’t the rebellious people of Israel asked you, “What do you think you are doing?” 10 You have been silent, but now you may answer, “The Eternal Lord says: This message has to do with the prince in Jerusalem and all the rest of Israel still living there.” 11 Tell them that I am an example to you, a living sign. As I have done, so it will be done to the people in Jerusalem. They will be carried off and taken into exile. 12 Not just the people, but the prince himself will put his bag over his shoulder and carry it out in the dark. People will dig a hole in the city wall to help him escape, and he’ll cover his eyes so that he cannot look upon the land he’ll never see again. 13 But I will set a trap for him, and he will be caught in My net. Then I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, but the blind prince won’t see any of it. There he will die. 14 I will scatter all of his helpers and troops to the wind, and I will hunt them down with a drawn sword.
Again God calls upon Ezekiel to act out His message. These dramatic actions apply specifically to Zedekiah. After Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem in 597 b.c., he deported Judah’s king Jehoiachin and most of the powerful citizens of the city—many of whom are now members of Ezekiel’s audience in exile. Nebuchadnezzar then installed Zedekiah as king to represent Babylonia’s interests and guarantee Judah’s submission. But Zedekiah will rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, who will then flatten Jerusalem in 586 b.c. (a decade after Ezekiel performs this sign-act). During that final siege, Zedekiah will do everything Ezekiel portrays here: he will attempt to escape the starving city, but he will be caught and taken to the Babylonian king. As punishment Nebuchadnezzar will order him to be blinded and taken into captivity. Zedekiah’s fate is a warning to any other who might consider opposing Babylonia’s king.
Eternal One: 15 They will know I am the Eternal when I send them far away and scatter them like chaff among other lands. 16 I will spare a few of them from slaughter, starvation, and disease, so that wherever they are, they will tell the world of all the shocking acts they committed against Me. Then they will know that I am the Eternal One.
17 The word of the Eternal came to me yet again.
Eternal One: 18 Son of man, tremble as you eat your meals. Shake with anxiousness as you drink your water. 19 Tell the people of the land what the Eternal Lord says regarding the people living in Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They will eat their meals in fear and drink their water with anxiety, for their land will be pillaged of everything in it because of their own violent acts. 20 Every inhabited town and city will be destroyed, and the land will be deserted. Then you will know I am the Eternal One.
21 The word of the Eternal came to me with another message.
Eternal One: 22 Son of man, what is this saying the people keep repeating in the land of Israel: “The days pass by, and the prophecies never come true”? 23 Tell the people of Israel the Eternal Lord says that this saying will not be quoted for long. I am going to make sure it is never said again in Israel. The time is near when every prophecy will be fulfilled. 24 There won’t be any more false visions or favorable predictions in Israel. 25 I, the Eternal One, will speak, and what I speak will be fulfilled without delay. You rebellious crowd! I will fulfill whatever I say during your lifetime.
So said the Eternal Lord.
26 The word of the Eternal came to me.
Eternal One: 27 Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, “The visions of the prophet are for the distant future; He speaks of events a long way off.” 28 Therefore, tell the people of Israel the Eternal Lord most certainly says that nothing I’ve predicted will wait any longer. Whatever I speak will be fulfilled without delay.