Our reading today begins with an indictment against Judah. God tells Ezekiel that all of Judah’s “abominations” need to be declared (22:2). God centers these on the blood Judah has shed and their worship of false gods (vv. 3-4). The kings have shed blood (v. 6), and what’s more, they have not worshiped YHWH by carrying out justice and righteousness (v. 7) or obeying the Sabbath (v. 8) or worshiping YHWH alone (v. 9). God then details sexual sins of the people (vv. 10-11) and repeats that they have shed blood (v. 12). This all comes down to them “forgetting” (forsaking) YHWH. So judgment is coming. God will send them into captivity (v. 15). And it is their own doing – they brought this on themselves (v. 16).
God then tells Ezekiel that the physical people have become dross – they should be like silver, but instead they are like valueless metals that are burned off when silver is purified (v. 18). The burning off is the judgment on Jerusalem (vv. 19-22). God condemns the false prophets (v. 25, 28), the priests (v. 26) the kings (v. 27), and all the people (v. 29). God looked for even one righteous among them, but found none (v. 30 – see Rom 3:10). So God will give them what they deserve (v. 31).
Chapter 23 contains another parable. God speaks of sisters, Oholah (literally: “her tent”) and Oholibah (literally: “my tent is in her” – likely a reference to God choosing to dwell in Judah). This is Israel and Judah (v. 4). We again see that they were idolaters while in Egypt (v. 3 – see 20:5-8). For Israel, they were idolaters all the way through the Assyrian captivity (vv. 5-10). And Judah saw it, and became the worse idolater (v. 11). They were already like the pagans of Babylon (vv. 14-16). So God turned away from them (v. 18), and they became worse idolaters still (v. 19). They returned to Egypt (vv. 19-21 – a reference to Jehoahaz – see 2 Chr 36:4).
So God pronounces judgment on Judah. Babylon will come against her (vv. 22-24). But it will be God’s doing (v. 25). He will put an end to their idolatry (v. 27) and send them into captivity (vv. 28-29), which is what they deserve (v. 30) like Israel deserved captivity (vv. 31-34). Judah will be judged for forsaking YHWH (v. 35). God then returns to the idea of judgment for bloodshed and idolatry (vv. 36-37), including another reference to Molech worship (v. 39). Judah gave to other gods what belongs only to YHWH (vv. 41-42 – see 16:18, Hos 2:8). So God will judge them and put an end to them and their idolatry by giving them what they have earned (vv. 46-49).
Chapter 24 begins the day the siege of Jerusalem begins (24:2). And God offers another parable. The pot in verse 3 is Jerusalem and the meat in verse 4 are the inhabitants of Jerusalem (see 11:3). Because Jerusalem is a bloody city (v. 6 – see 22:1-6), the meat will be taken out of the cauldron piece by piece without distinction. This is the captivity. The fire in verse 10 is a picture of God’s judgment. The pot itself melts from the heat (v. 11) and falls into the fire (v. 12). This is the destruction of Jerusalem, and the people who are worthless metal (see 22:18). They will now get what they deserve (v. 14).
Then, God calls Ezekiel to perform another act prophecy, and an unthinkable one at that. God is going to take Ezekiel’s wife in death (v. 16). But Ezekiel cannot cry or mourn her (vv. 16-17). God does it, and Ezekiel is obedient (v. 18). So the people ask Ezekiel what’s going on (v. 19). And he tells them: God is going to take everything away from them. In verse 21, the sanctuary and pride of their power is referring to God taking His presence from them. And they are not to mourn their loss (vv. 22-23). Because this is what they deserve. God has taken nothing from them that they have not given up themselves. And when it happens, God will no longer make Ezekiel mute when not prophesying (vv. 26-27 – see 3:26-27 and 33:21-22).