Judgment on Jerusalem’s leaders (11:1-13)
At the east gate of the temple, where God’s chariot-throne had temporarily stopped (see 10:19), Ezekiel saw in vision a group of twenty-five of the city’s political leaders. The wrong advice of these men was one reason why Jerusalem was heading for certain ruin (11:1-2). (At the time of this vision, the last great siege of Jerusalem, foretold in earlier chapters, had not yet happened.)
Jeremiah had been telling the people that to fight against Babylon was fatal, for God had sent the Babylonians to punish Jerusalem. The city should therefore surrender (Jer 21:8-10). These leaders, on the other hand, were stirring up the people to resist Babylon. They recommended that building programs in the city be stopped so that more men would be available to fight. They were confident that they were safe in Jerusalem. The city walls would protect the inhabitants from the Babylonians, just as a cooking pot protects the flesh inside it from the fire (3-4).
God’s word to Jerusalem’s leaders is that he knows what they are thinking, but the city will fall in spite of their confidence (5-6). The innocent people, whom these corrupt leaders have killed, are now the fortunate ones, for they will be spared the bloodshed that is to come upon Jerusalem. They are the only pieces of flesh to be safe from the fire. As for the leaders, they will be taken out of the cooking pot, dragged out of their imagined security in Jerusalem, and executed at the border of Israel as the victorious Babylonian armies return home (7-12). (For the fulfilment of this prophecy see 2 Kings 25:18-21.)
Ezekiel saw one of Jerusalem’s leaders drop dead as he was speaking. The prophet was again filled with fear as he saw the determination of God to punish his rebellious people (13).
Hope for the future (11:14-25)
Those left in Jerusalem thought they were God’s favoured people. They thought their security was guaranteed because they lived in the city where his temple was situated. They looked upon the exiles as having been cast off by God, forsaken and unclean in a foreign land (14-15). To the contrary, Ezekiel points out that the exiles are God’s favoured people, the remnant whom he has preserved. When they repent of their idolatry and rebellion, he will bring them back to their land (16-18). He will restore them to a new covenant relationship with himself, and put within them a new spirit that will make them more responsive to his will. The rebellious, however, will be punished (19-21).
As a final demonstration that God would no longer dwell among or protect the people living in Jerusalem, the chariot-throne bearing the glory of God departed from the temple, went out of the city and came to rest on a nearby mountain. God had left Jerusalem, but he was still within reach if the people decided to repent (22-23).
Now that the series of visions was finished, Ezekiel returned to normal. In spirit he was no longer in Jerusalem, but back in Babylon, where he recounted his experiences to the exiles (24-25; cf. 8:1-4).