Return

The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (15)

Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper

Installments:

      1. Some Preliminary Observations
      2. The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
      3. The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
      4. The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
      5. Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
      6. The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
      7. Prophecy and Idolatry
      8. Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
      9. The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
      10. God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
      11. The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
      12. Israel's Past and Future Experiences
      13. The Sword of Jehovah
      14. Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
      15. The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
      16. The Boiling Caldron
      17. Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
      18. The Oracle Concerning Tyre
      19. The Oracles Concerning Egypt
      20. The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
      21. The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
      22. The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
      23. The Judgment upon Edom
      24. The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
      25. Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
      26. The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
      27. The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
      28. The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
      29. The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
      30. The Millennial Jerusalem
      31. The Millennial Temple
      32. The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
      33. The Land of Israel in the Millennium

The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah

Although the people of Israel had been redeemed by the Lord in a marvelous manner from Egyptian bondage, had been nourished during their wilderness wanderings of forty years, had been given the land of Palestine as their home, and had been blessed in a marvelous manner, she still continued in her waywardness, departing from her God. No sooner had she entered the land and become settled there until she played the harlot with the various Canaanite gods. The Period of the Judges was characterized by apostasy from God; then chastisement by the Almighty. Following a period of correction were repentance, turning to God, and calling upon Him for emancipation. Then the Lord raised up deliverers in the form of the Judges. The Book of Judges is thus a series of cycles of history, passing through the various stages just mentioned. During the Period of the Monarchy the history likewise continued in cycles of apostasy from God, chastisement, repentance, and calling upon God for mercy. During this period there were four, great reforms or revivals in the nation. These were conducted by the following kings: Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. After each one of these great reforms or revivals, the people lapsed back into idolatry finally and apostatized from God. The prophets, constantly fought against idolatry in every sense of the term and plead with Israel to come back and be faithful to God.

This turning from God to idols is set forth both in Ezekiel, chapter 16 and chapter 23, in the form of allegories. The northern kingdom, whose capital was Samaria, is represented as a girl whose name was Oholah which means “her tent.” The girl whose name is called Oholibah was Jerusalem. This word means “my tent is in her” and refers to the fact that the temple of God was located there. In this representation these two girls are set forth as having been in Egypt and having played the harlot there with the gods of the country. We are not to suppose that, since they are spoken of as having been in Egypt, the rift between the ten northern tribes and the two southern tribes, which came upon the death of Solomon, existed while the Hebrews were in Egypt. It is true that there were differences between the mighty tribe of Judah on the one hand and that of Ephraim on the other in the early stages of the history of Israel. But the rent never came until Solomon died and Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor, refused to listen to the reasonable plea of the people to reduce the taxes. When he failed to do this, the ten northern tribes seceded from the kingdom and the throne of David. Ezekiel, in his allegorical representation of the two sections of the Jewish nation, spoke of them in terms of the situation of his own day and time. As we have already seen, when Israel was in Egypt, she began to worship idols (Ezekiel, chapter 20).

I. Oholah, Samaria, Flirting with Assyria

In verses 5-10 Ezekiel speaks to Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, and tells of how the people of that kingdom turned to Assyria for help and how they were influenced by that mighty pagan nation. Just as a young woman who removes all restraints and turns to become a harlot and makes advances toward certain paramours, thus this northern kingdom had done with reference to Assyria.

Since nationally Israel gave her attention to the Assyrians, the Lord turned her over to this mighty pagan nation. This historical account of the first serious interference with the northern kingdom by Assyria is recorded in II Kings 15:29-31. This occurred in the days of Tiglath-pileser III, one of the strongest monarchs who ever sat upon the Assyrian throne. A few years later Shalmaneser IV, the successor of Tiglath-pileser, came against Samaria. During the war Shalmaneser died and was succeeded by Sargon, who prosecuted the war to a conclusion. At the end of a three-year struggle Samaria succumbed to the mighty titanic blows of the Assyrians. The fall occurred in B.C. 719. Thus the northern kingdom never was restored.

II. Oholibah, Jerusalem, More Corrupt than Her Sister Oholah

In Ezekiel 23:11-21 the prophet in similar imagery represented Jerusalem as a woman who has turned to be a harlot, and who is going after various paramours. She went after the Assyrians first, according to Ezekiel. The fact that she is spoken of here under the symbolism of a harlot and her going after paramours found its literal expression in the days of Ahaz, king of Judah. At that time Syria and Israel had formed an alliance against Judah and King Ahaz. Ahaz turned toward the Assyrians for help and deliverance. King Ahaz actually invited Tiglath-pileser to a conference and met him in Damascus, where a treaty of peace was negotiated. At that time Ahaz sent instructions back to Jerusalem to change the altar at the Temple in Jerusalem and pattern it like the one in Damascus. Thus he began to conform to the Assyrian ideals. The account of these occurrences is found in II Kings, chapter 16.

Ezekiel also charged Oholibah, Jerusalem, with having played the harlot with the Chaldeans. The thing referred to by this language might be illustrated by the friendly relations that were instituted between Hezekiah, king of Judah, and Babylon. When Hezekiah was sick, the Babylonians sent ambassadors to him on a friendly mission. The Judean king, being flattered by such courtesies, opened up all of his treasures and showed to these pagan representatives the secrets of the kingdom. Thus friendly relations were established. Babylon, however, took advantage of such a situation and used it in its plans of aggression a little later, Hezekiah, in thus forming his policy of friendship, broke down the barriers that made Judah distinctive among the nations and paved the way for future Babylonian aggression against Judah. When Hezekiah did this, the Lord sent Isaiah the prophet condemning the action (see II Kings, chapter 20, and Isaiah, chapter 39).

III. The Chaldeans and The Assyrians: Agents of God's Wrath against Judah

In verses 22-35 God in a very graphic manner shows that the Assyrians and the Chaldeans were only His agents in bringing chastisement to Judah because of her moral and spiritual delinquency. The overrunning of the country and the depredations committed by the Assyrians were a thing of the past at the time of Ezekiel's speaking; but the Babylonians' aggressive action was just being instituted; their campaigns were just beginning to be launched.

Israel spoke of the wrecking of the country and the destruction of the property by the Babylonians in terms of the heathen practice of mutilating the faces of victims. At times the victor would cut off the nose and the ears of the conquered and would strip them of their jewels and clothing. Thus, in a most graphic and vivid manner, the prophet described the depredation of the Babylonians which they would commit against Judah at the time of their aggressive action. These predictions were literally carried out at the time of the Babylonian captivity.

IV. All Israel Indicted

In verses 36-49 the prophet is commanded to judge both Oholah and Oholibah. In doing this he simply declared the sins of the people and the punishment that had been meted out and was to be meted out because of the sins of the people.

Every sin and every transgression receives a just recompense of reward. What a man sows that he also reaps. This same principle governs nations as well as individuals.

When Israel's Messiah came, she rejected Him. As a result of this action God has had to punish His beloved people these nineteen hundred years. When, however, she humbles herself, accepts the punishment of her delinquency, acknowledges her national sin, and pleads for Messiah to return, He will do so. Then will dawn Israel's day. May that day speedily come!

Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear!”

Next: The Boiling Caldron

Return