Good morning! In today’s passage, Ezekiel 32-34 continues for one chapter the themes of yesterday, but then changes direction to focus on a time after punishment when Israel is restored. Chapter 32 follows closely on the heels of other anti-Egypt chapters like those we read yesterday. Here, Ezekiel focuses on the death of Pharaoh and the synonymous decline of Egypt. With vivid and grotesque descriptors, the prophet emphasizes that when death comes for the Egyptians, they will not go down to eternal rest with those who have honorably died, but instead will inhabit another portion of the afterlife reserved for those who are slain by the sword.
Ezekiel then starts a new focus on the promise of restoration for Israel, and what it will look like, in chapters 33-34. It starts with emphasis that Ezekiel has a unique responsibility as a sentinel to make sure God’s message of judgment is heard, and evokes changed behavior as a result. A welcome message here in Ezekiel suggests that what God desires is repentance and transformation, not suffering or punishment.
Any person or nation’s past history will not be shackles that bind the future. The righteous will still need to remain righteous, and the wicked will be freed if they change their ways. This is part of a “new” understanding and theology characteristic to the prophets, that each will be responsible for her or his own failure and success. Perhaps the best news is that by making restitution, the wicked will be able to change their lot in life. “None of the sins that they have committed shall be remembered against them; they have done what is lawful and right, they shall surely live.” (33:16) There’s such a thing as forgive and forget, from God at least.
The third and final chapter for today leans on the metaphor of shepherding, which would have instant relatability for any resident of Jerusalem. Whereas Ezekiel is called to be a true prophet and sentinel, he condemns those who are false shepherds. They encourage folks to do the right, but then they act the other way. This poor leadership has led to a decimated people. As a consequence, God will be the true shepherd who rescues them from danger. God (through Ezekiel) resurrects the model of David as an impeccable leader. The “good old days” will be back again but better than ever, safeguarded from all harm by a vigilant, caretaker God. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Ezekiel 35-38. Thanks for reading!