Daily Family Worship

Ezekiel 5: The Symbolism of Ezekiel’s Hair

by | Sep 2, 2023

ezekiel 5

In this chapter, we have a further – but no less terrible – denunciation of the judgments of Jehovah, which were coming with all speed and force to ruin the Jewish nation; for when the Lord judges, He will overcome. God commanded Ezekiel to take a barber’s razor, and to shave off the hair of his head and his beard. After he had done this, he was to take a pair of scales and weigh out the hair into three equal parts. Then he was to go to the place where he had left his model of the besieged city of Jerusalem. One part of the hair, he was to burn there, as though it were burned in the midst of the city. He was to cut up another part into small pieces with a knife; and as for the last remaining portion, he was to hold it out in his hand and let the wind blow it away on every side.

The Lord told Ezekiel that this is precisely what would happen to the people in Jerusalem. He had chosen them to be His people above all others, yet they had sinned against Him more than any other nation. Therefore, He was going to punish them as He had never punished any other people before. A third part of them, He said, would die with the pestilence and the famine in the midst of the city, just like the hair that Ezekiel was to burn with fire. Another third part would be killed by their enemies around and outside of the city, like the hair that was cut into pieces with the knife. And the other third part would be carried away from their own land and scattered over all the earth, just like the hair that Ezekiel was to hold out in his hand for the wind to blow away. The time had come, the Lord said, to punish these people for their sins; and very soon, their punishment would come upon them. He told Ezekiel that He would send the worst of the heathen nations against them, who would destroy Jerusalem and go even into the Most Holy Place of the Temple, and take away its precious and holy things. Then, said the Lord, the men of Israel would be weak with fear, and unable to fight against their enemies. And they would bring out their gold and silver and throw it into the streets; for it could do them no good, and it would only increase their trouble – because they had loved it more than they loved God, and they had so often broken His laws in getting it.

The prophet emphatically and repeatedly makes it clear that the terrible circumstances which were about to fall upon these people were the Lord’s dealings with them according to their own wicked ways. Their evil doings had reached the final and ultimate stage of heaven-defying wickedness. But the grand charge which the prophet evidently meant to bring against them was that they had failed to fulfill the Lord’s special purpose for settling them in the Promised Land of Canaan. This region was centrally located among the ancient heathen nations; and upon that account, the Jews were intended to maintain a position of power and influence in respect to the knowledge and worship of God. No other region in the whole ancient world provided such wonderful opportunities for exerting a beneficial and commanding influence upon the minds of ancient heathendom. By being appointed to occupy such a central position, the people of Israel had a responsibility to take advantage of this privilege in order to make known the character of Jehovah, and to extend His true worship. But the distinguished marks of Divine favor that they enjoyed, and the political ascendancy that was granted to them over the nations of the earth, were expressly dependent upon their steadfastness to the Lord’s Covenant. They were to be faithful witnesses of its truth and holiness, and they were to shine as God’s lights in the earth, so that the surrounding nations might learn His will and come to share in His blessings. 

This special calling of Israel, in respect to the nations of the ancient world, is precisely the same calling which now rests upon the Christian Church. The religion of the Jews was greatly involved with external rituals and ceremonies, but the discoveries of the Gospel lay open Divine realities to the spiritual eye of faith. The grand element of power now lies in the truth itself, and not in pictures and foreshadows of the truth. And when this truth is plainly exhibited in the daily lives and actions of God’s redeemed people, then the triumph of righteousness is sped forward in the world! The Christian Church is set in the midst of the nations, spiritually speaking; and all her members are charged to give faithful testimony to the truth by which she herself has been blessed, so that others may come and partake of the blessing. What a noble function! And in connection with its faithful discharge, what an unspeakable good is taking place – namely, nothing less than the possession of the whole world under the Kingship of Christ! The right to this possession was given to our Savior from His Father, and it is to His Church that He commits the responsibility of bringing the nations under His feet. With her people, therefore, lies the weighty charge of the world’s regeneration. Both individually and collectively, we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Happy for us if we are such, in reality! For if we are not, and if we fail to do our part in spreading the good news of the Gospel, the same heavy condemnation that fell upon the heads of the Jews will fall upon us also. Let us pray for grace, then, that we may be diligent in this matter!

Lord, we pray for grace to fulfill the great responsibility which has been given to us, of giving faithful testimony to the truth of the Gospel, so that all the nations of the earth may be speedily brought under the Kingship of Jesus! Amen.

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photo by Lydia Bennett  |  Lightstock.com