2 Samuel 2; 1 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 11; Psalm 50
THERE ARE TWO HIGHLY SYMBOLIC actions in Ezekiel 11, one of them beginning in Ezekiel 10, the other entirely within the chapter at hand:
(1) Although it is difficult to trace exactly the movement of the glory of the Lord, it is reasonably clear that this glory, once associated with the temple—especially with the Most Holy Place and the ark of the covenant over which the cherubim stretched their wings—abandons the temple and hovers over the mobile throne. The same mobile throne Ezekiel had seen in Babylon is now parked by the south entrance to the temple. The four living creatures, now identified as cherubim, transport the glory of the Lord to the east gate (Ezek. 10:18-19), and then to the mountain east of the city (Ezek. 11:23). Thus the presence of God judicially abandons the temple and the city. Nothing stands in the way of their destruction.
(2) The picture of the cooking pot (Ezek. 11:3-12) conjures up the false sense of security that a strong, walled city could engender among its inhabitants. The Jerusalemites thought of themselves as the good meat within the “pot” of the walled city, nicely surrounded and protected. But God himself will drive them out (Ezek. 11:7). This city will not be a “pot” for them at all (Ezek. 11:11). The truth of the matter is that the Jerusalemites, whom the exiles were inclined to lionize because they were still there in Jerusalem, were extraordinarily arrogant. While the exiles pinned their hopes on them, the Jerusalemites themselves saw the exiles as so much rubbish, people rejected by God and transported far away from the land and the temple (Ezek. 11:14-15). Indeed, God says there is going to be a mighty reversal. True, God did scatter the exiles among the nations. But while they have been away, God himself has been their sanctuary (Ezek. 11:16)—which shows that the temple is not strictly needed for God to be present among his people, to be a “sanctuary” for them. Thus while the Jerusalemites will be destroyed (even as they dismiss the exiles as of no account), God will gather together a remnant from among them (Ezek. 11:17). Ultimately he will put into place a new covenant that will transform them (Ezek. 11:18-20). These themes are taken up in more detail later in the book (e.g., chap. 36).
The vision of chapters 8-11 ends with Ezekiel transported back to Babylon, telling the people everything he has seen and heard. The first strands of hope in this book have been laid out, but not in the categories expected. Jerusalem will be destroyed, and God’s purposes for the future center on the exiles themselves. How often in Scripture does God effect his rescue, his salvation, through the weak and the despised!