Ezekiel Chapters 12, 13, 14, 15 —Outline and Notes
1 Context Overview
In this lesson, we outline and analyse Ezekiel chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15. Ezekiel records: God’s warning of Jerusalem's destruction soon; God’s condemnation of false prophets with idols in their hearts; God’s punishment using famine, beasts, sword, and plague; God’s Parable of Vine and Tree.
A number of issues are touched upon in Ezekiel chapters 12 to 15.
Why is God allowing Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Babylonians?
Why are false prophets predicting peace and prosperity when Ezekiel says the city is doomed and the people will die, be taken captive, or flee to foreign lands?
What are the catastrophies about to befall Jerusalem? Will this be the end of Israel, or will a remnant be preserved to restore Jerusalem?
When Ezekiel does everything he can to make the people see the truth, why don't they listen or understand?
2 Outline of Ezekiel 12, 13, 14, and 15
Warning of Jerusalem’s Destruction Soon
God expresses sympathy for Ezekiel who lives among a rebellious people. They are blind and deaf to God’s word (Ezekiel 12:1-2).
Ezekiel is commanded to perform a symbolic enactment of an exile leaving Jerusalem. This is meant as a prophetic sign to the people that they will soon be refugees (Ezekiel 12:3-6).
Ezekiel obeys God and does the enactment just as God ordered (Ezekiel 12:7).
God tells Ezekiel what to say when people ask Ezekiel what he is doing. He is to say that what they see him do will happen to them, and he is a sign to them (Ezekiel 12:8-14).
God says that when they are scattered among the nations, they will know he is God. God repeats his promise to spare a few (Ezekiel 12:15-16).
Ezekiel is to enact another sign. He is to eat with shaking hand drink with dread. Again, this is a sign of how it will be with the people of Jerusalem and the towns around them when they realise that they are about to be struck and their land laid waste and desolate (Ezekiel 12:17-20).
There is a saying in Israel, “The days go by and every vision fails”. God says that he will perform his word and the days are at hand when all the visions will be fulfilled (Ezekiel 12:21-25).
The above is repeated. The people say that Ezekiel is prophesying distant events and not something soon to be. But they are wrong (Ezekiel 12:26-28).
Condemnation of False Prophets
God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the prophets of Israel and tell them to hear God’s word, because they prophesy out of their own hearts (Ezekiel 13:1-2).
The LORD speaks against those who follow their own spirit, and who speak nonsense, but claim they are led by the Spirit of God. They say, “Thus says the LORD”, but the LORD has not sent them nor has he spoken through them. Yet they expect fulfillment of their prophecies! (Ezekiel 13:3-8).
These false prophets who divine lies shall be banished from Israel (Ezekiel 13:9).
Parable of the Whitewashed Wall
God likens the false prophecies to the building of a shoddy wall, plastered over and whitewashed to look good, but unable to withstand a violent storm. [More on this below in "The Parables"](Ezekiel 13:10-16).
God Includes Female Prophets
Ezekiel is to speak the same message to the women who prophesy falsely. They tell fortunes and wear magic charms. They subvert God’s rule and by false testimony cause good people to die unjustly. They trade lies for subsistence (Ezekiel 13:17-19).
God’s oracle against these fortune tellers: God will rip their veils and charms from their bodies and rescue the people they have ensnared, whom they have counselled not to repent of sin (Ezekiel 13:20-23).
Idols in the Heart
Some of the elders of Israel visit the prophet Ezekiel to consult the LORD but God won't allow it because they have come with many idols in their heart. That is hypocrisy and God is not fooled by it. When they come to him through a prophet, he will answer them before they are given opportunity to say anything (Ezekiel 14:1-5).
God condemns those who come to a prophet to consult the LORD with idols in their heart (Ezekiel 14:6-8).
If God induces the prophet to speak, and the prophet speaks from his own deception rather than God’s truth, then God will punish both prophet and enquirer alike. (Ezekiel 14:9-10).
God states the aim of this punishment: "that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me, nor be profaned anymore with all their transgressions, but instead be my people and I their God"(Ezekiel 14:11).
Parable of Noah, Daniel, and Job
If God sends severe judgments on Jerusalem, the famine, wild beasts, sword and pestilence, then even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness"(Ezekiel 14:12-20).
In all of this gloom, God gives hope. He repeats his promise that a remnant of righteous people, marked for deliverance by their righteousness, will restore Israel. And God promises that there is a good purpose in his punishments. He has done nothing without cause (Ezekiel 14:21-23).
Parable of Vine and Tree
God asks Ezekiel to consider the wood of the vine that grows among the trees of the forest. Is any part of it useful for anything, but burning in the fire? (Ezekiel 15:1-5).
God says the inhabitants of Jerusalem are useless, like the vine of the forest, and a fire will devour them, and their land will be desolate (Ezekiel 15:6-8).
3 The Three Parables
First parable: Plastering Over the Cracks
God likens the false prophecies to the building of a shoddy wall, plastered over and whitewashed to look good, but unable to withstand a violent storm (Ezekiel 13:10-16).
The false prophets predicted that the near future would bring peace and prosperity. So these prophets urged the people to build houses (Ezekiel 11:1-4).
Maybe there were examples of shoddy walls in the city, walls plastered over to hide the cracks. In any case, God will say of the false prophecies, "The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it"
Here is what the parable represents:
The plasterers were the false prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem. Their visions predicted peace for her when there was no peace to come.
The wall in the parable is their doctrine —the doctrine of men, not of God.
The plaster or whitewash represents the deception.
The storms that wrecked the wall represent the punishments God is going to inflict.
Second parable: Noah, Daniel, and Job
There are four punishments in God’s judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 14:12-23). They are: Famine (v12-13), Beasts (v15-16), Sword (v17-18), and Plague (v19-20).
As God mentions each of these severe punishments, he says that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness"
Noah and Job, were men of antiquity who were faithful and righteous. That's why God saved Noah from the great flood, and rescued Job from the persecution Satan inflicted on him
The other man, Daniel, was a man of the moment, a captive of the Chaldeans. He was promoted to a high and responsible position in Babylon, yet without acting corruptly. He refused to participate in idolatry though it meant being cast into the den of lions.
If these men were in Jerusalem at the time of the seige, slaughter, and exile, they would, because of their righteousness, be marked by the man with the inkhorn and be preserved.
But the unrighteousness of most people in Jerusalem is so extreme that even the righteousness of Noah, Daniel, and Job, could not help them. They will not be saved.
However, God gives assurance again that a remnant of righteous people will restore Jerusalem. This will be a comfort for Ezekiel.
Third parable: The Vine and the Trees
Ezekiel chapter 15 is a parable showing that Israel, by and large, has become useless to God and must be destroyed. God asks Ezekiel to consider the spindly vine that grows among the trees in the forest.
The wood of the trees is useful, and much can be made from it. But the vine is fit only for burning because one cannot make anything from its wood, not even a peg. (Ezekiel : )
This simple parable is God’s way of explaining why he is turning his back on Jerusalem and the children of Israel. If they were trees, he would value them. But they are soft and spindly vines so he deals with them as trash.