Skip to main content
9th July

Ezekiel 22-24; Psalm 35

Bible in a Year
7 minutes
In this article
9th July

Ezekiel 22-24; Psalm 35

Bible in a Year
7 minutes


So far in Ezekiel, we’ve read through Ezekiel’s commissioning, his prophetic acts, and started the accusations against Judah. The book started five years after the first group of Israelites had been exiled to Babylon. Jerusalem was still standing, and many Israelites still lived there. Ezekiel received a vision of God, sat upon his throne over Babylon. The throne was carried by four creatures that had, amongst other features, wheels for feet. The symbolism here was that God is not restricted to just being the God of Israel. He can move, because he has authority over all the earth.

God charged Ezekiel with speaking to the Israelites still in Jerusalem to repent and change their ways before it was too late. But God also warned Ezekiel that the people would likely not listen to him. After taking a week to process all he had seen and heard, Ezekiel started acting out prophetic declarations.

He made a miniature model of Jerusalem and acted out sieges against it. He laid on his left side for 390 days and then on his right for forty, representing the years God would punish both Israel and then Judah for. He was to eat unclean food to represent the unclean food the people would eat in exile. Ezekiel shaved his head and beard, and the divided the hair into three groups which represented the three different ways God would punish his people.

After more time passed, God gave Ezekiel a vision of what the people were doing to his temple back in Jerusalem. From the outer gates to right inside the inner temple, the people were worshipping false gods and idols. They had desecrated the space that had been reserved for God.

Ezekiel had a vision of the presence of God leaving the temple and entering his throne chariot carried by the four living beings. So God declared judgement over the people, their leaders, and the prophets. We then got two more prophetic acts from Ezekiel. He was to pack as those he was about to go into exile, and then dig a hole in the wall. In the same way, the Babylonians will break through Jerusalem's walls and lead its people in to exile.

Israel was painted as an unfaithful bride. God had rescued her and raised her from infancy, dressing her in finery and committing himself to her. Instead, she took those gifts and gave them to foreign nations so they would sleep with her. Where she was once a great lion, her cubs are now kept in cages. Where she was once a great vine flourishing by running waters, now she is wilting in the heat of the desert.

Ezekiel 22-24

God comes to Ezekiel to tell him judge to Jerusalem, for God has seen all her sin and guilt. God then begins to list the sins found Jerusalem. The people are eager to kill and spill blood. They've worshipped false idols. Their princes, their leaders, have abused their power to shed blood. Discipline and respect for parents has gone, replaced with disrespect and contempt.

The foreigners, the orphans, and the widows have all been marginalised and oppressed. They've not honoured all of God's holy things or kept the Sabbath. There are those who lie about others so they can destroy their lives, and others who engage in pagan worship feasts in the mountains. They are sexually immoral, engaging in adultery, incest, and violent sexual acts. They are corrupt and take bribes.

Because of all these things, God speaks judgement over his people. He will strike them down and scatter them among the nations. As far as he is concerned, they are like the impurities in metal that need to be burnt away. God will pour out judgement on his people so he can purge the impurities from them.

He points out to them how much their society has broken down. Their prophets are corrupt, consuming other people to support themselves. They lie and prophesy falsely. Their priests have been making God's holy things unclean and contaminated. The princes and leaders have been practising violence. Even the people themselves have been oppressing others and practising injustice. So God will consume them all with fire.

Another time, God came to Ezekiel with a picture of two sisters; Oholah who represented Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, and Oholibah who represented Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judah.

Both these women were prostitutes in Egypt, representing their time of slavery there, and the place where their roots in idolatry and worshipping false gods began. God brought them out of Egypt and married them both. God then continues to describe how these two sisters carried on their prostituting after they were his, and he uses incredibly sexually explicit language to do so.

This is another example of how, sometimes, the Bible really isn't pretty. At times, it can be intentionally offensive to stir a reaction in you. God describes how Oholah (the northern kingdom) lusted after the men of Assyria, chasing after them to give herself to them. So God gave her up to her lovers in Assyria, who raped and killed her.

You would think that after seeing this, her sister Oholibah (the southern kingdom) would think better of committing adultery herself. But no. She too began to lust after the Assyrians and their military might. So she chased after the Assyrian men and slept with them.

But that wasn't enough for her. She saw images of the Babylonians and lusted after them, too. She sent messengers to them and brought them to her. She slept with them, and as soon as she was finished, she was disgusted with the Babylonians and rejected them. Similarly, by this point, God was disgusted with her and rejected her.

Finished with the Babylonians, Oholibah decided to chase after her old lover, Egypt. This is when God intervened. He decides to call all of her lovers together to let them have their way with her. They shall come to destroy her beauty, cutting off parts of her face. God is letting this happen because of her idolatry and false worship. She will have to drink the same cup as her sister. The cup of God's judgement. All of this because she had forgotten God and turned her back on him.

Then God reviews everything he's said so far. He tells Ezekiel to speak judgement over the two sisters because of their adultery and idolatry. If they want to play the whore, then let all their lovers use and abuse them as they see fit. The language and imagery really demonstrate how offensive this situation is to God. The nation who God loved and had taken to be his wife has completely rejected him and turned their back on him.

It’s worth noting these passages are a product of their time. A time that was harsher and more combative. When imported directly into today, these passages can be used to justify and support violence against women. This imagery isn’t to be taken lightly or brushed aside. It needs to be wrestled with to best understand how to bring it into a 21st century context without perpetuating violence and abuse against women.

We then jump to the first day of Babylon's siege against Jerusalem. Ezekiel is told to make a note of this date, and then to take a bronze cooking pot, fill it with meat, and bring it to the boil. Jerusalem is a little like this bronze pot, except she is filled with rust and bloodied stains that cannot be washed off. So God will add plenty of wood to the fire in the hope that he can fully burn away all the impurities in the pot.

A little after this, God came to Ezekiel to let him know that his wife was about to die. When this happens, Ezekiel isn't to mourn the death of his wife. In this way, he will be a model of God who's giving his wife over to death and destruction and will not mourn her. Ezekiel goes out to share this message with the people, and then that evening, his wife dies.

God tells Ezekiel that on the day that the siege on Jerusalem is finally over, a messenger will come and tell him, and at that point Ezekiel will no longer be bound to only speak of Jerusalem's judgement. This ends the first section of Ezekiel focused on the accusations against and judgement of Israel. Tomorrow's reading will start us on the next section, which is focused on God's judgement on the foreign nations.

Psalm 35

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of lament psalm. It can be split into three sections, with each section ending with a promise to praise.

Psalm 35:1-3 - A prayer for help in battle

Psalm 35:4-8 - A request for enemies to fall

Psalm 35:9-10 - A promise to praise

Psalm 35:11-16 - Lament

Psalm 35:17 - A request for help

Psalm 35:18 - A promise to praise

Psalm 35:19-26 - A request for enemies to be put to shame

Psalm 35:27 - A request for supporters to rejoice

Psalm 35:28 - A promise to praise

The psalm opens with a call to God for help. Military language is used to ask God for his protection. May he be a shield to protect, and a spear to keep enemies at bay.

The psalmist turns to his enemies and asks for them to be put to shame. They have pursued the psalmist and intended to harm him, so may they meet their own destruction.

Having made his request, the psalmist looks forward to God’s victory and deliverance. Trusting that God will intervene, they anticipate the sense of joy and the praise that they’ll bring to God.

But then the psalmist dips back into lament. They bring to God the suffering and persecution they’ve experienced. This time, legal language is used. Their enemies are like witnesses that have accused them in court, seeking their defeat. 

What’s made it worse is the psalmist grieved and mourned for their enemies when they were struggling. The psalmist treated them as friends and family, but now they rejoice at the psalmist's struggles.

So the psalmist asks God to intervene. To rescue them from this attack. And once again, they look forward to that moment where God breaks in, and the praise that they will speak out before many.

One last time, the psalmist turn to his enemies and asks that God put them to shame. May they no longer be able to rejoice because they have pursued wickedness and deceit. 

It has felt like God has been absent in this situation, so the psalmist asks that he rise up and vindicate them. Put to shame their enemies and give their supporters a reason to rejoice.

Finally, the psalmist ends with anticipation. God will intervene and punish the wicked, and when that happens the psalmist will speak God’s praise ‘all day long’.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

Share this article