Ezek. 6:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Ezek. 6:2 Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,
This seems to be introducing a new message from the LORD for Ezekiel to deliver to the people. The prophecy is regarding judgment to come upon Israel.
God is so patient and longsuffering. He continually gives warnings and opportunities for repentance before He judges.
“set thy face toward” – Note from Constable: To turn toward with hostile intention.
Ezek. 6:3 And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.
This prophecy includes the nation as a whole. The Northern tribes have already been taken into captivity, and the rest of Judah would soon follow. Even so, as depicted earlier, the Lord is preserving a remnant. God intends to eliminate idol worship among His people even if it means killing them in great numbers in the process. The “high places” reference the preferred locations of altars dedicated to the worship of false gods.
Ezek. 6:4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.
Ezek. 6:5 And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.
God is going to see to it that the altars to these false gods are destroyed and the idol images broken. The Hebrew for image references “sun-pillar,” which could be a reference to the sun god. The dead bodies of the people will be evidence of the impotence of these “gods” to intervene on behalf of their worshippers. In the places where they have offered sacrifice, they will be slain.
Ezek. 6:6 In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.
All of Israel was to experience God’s judgment. The cities would be destroyed, the altars to false gods destroyed, the idols proven worthless, the images of the idols destroyed and the people’s acts of worship to these false gods will be abolished, wiped out.
The prophets often speak using a lot of repetition. It’s like God is saying that I am going to repeat this message to the point that you will never be able to claim ignorance as to why and how you are going to be judged. The response of the people was such that you couldn’t help but wonder if they were hearing it. I can think of many times when I have been talking to my children only to learn that they were zoned out and wanted me to repeat what I had said. God is so loving that He goes to the nth degree to make sure His people get the message.
Ezek. 6:7 And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Sadly, the LORD is going to have to take the lives of many to make them understand that He is YHWH, God Almighty, the covenant God of Israel.
Ezek. 6:8 Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.
Though judgment is necessary, God is not forgetting His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. He is faithful to preserve a remnant that has the opportunity to turn back to Him in faith and repentance. The largest part of that remnant will be scattered among the Gentile nations.
Ezek. 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
The remnant that is preserved among the nations will remember YHWH. They will realize how they have grieved Him by worshipping worthless idols instead of keeping covenant with God Almighty Who had proven His power and authority in so many ways throughout their history. A “whorish heart” is a reference to spiritual adultery. These memories will cause them to grieve for their wicked practices in worship of false gods.
The Hebrew for the word “broken” implies brokenhearted. How often do we think about the truth that we can grieve Almighty God—cause Him to have a broken heart?
I can’t help but think that this prophecy reaches into the future to the Millennial Kingdom. Yes, there was a group that returned from the Babylonian captivity and reestablished temple worship, but Israel has never remained truly obedient to God as a nation to the current time.
Ezek. 6:10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.
When God speaks, it is with purpose; He is not using empty words. He is careful to make them understand that the judgment to come is because He has decreed it and is causing it. It’s not just evil men doing their evil deeds and exerting their will upon others; it is God using these men as instruments of judgment in His hand.
Ezek. 6:11 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
God instructs the prophet to strike his hands together and stomp his feet to demonstrate that the judgment to come would be violent. God is angry with their “evil abominations,” their wicked disgusting ways. Because of their wickedness, the majority of them will be killed by the enemy, or through starvation, or through pestilence (i.e., the black plague).
Ezek. 6:12 He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.
God’s people needn’t think they were safe just because they weren’t living in Israel; they are evidently going to be afflicted with pestilence/plague. Those who were in the land would be more likely to be killed by the enemy. Those who survived the first onslaught of the enemy and were left to experience the seige would more likely die from starvation.
God is adamant that His wrath will be appeased when judgment has run its course.
Ezek. 6:13 Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
Multitudes of dead bodies will cover the land that they defiled through the worship of false gods and their idols.
Ezek. 6:14 So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
God’s judgment will be thorough. The judgment will result in the land being devastated and laid to waste. After looking several places, it would seem that the “wilderness toward Dilath” is referencing a desert area on the way to Diblath, a city of Moab on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.
I can’t help but be reminded of the condition of Israel prior to their becoming a nation again in 1948. Trees were scarce and the land was desolate. I have often come across a quote by Mark Twain after visiting Israel in 1867. He described it as
“ ...[a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds-a silent mournful expanse....A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action....We never saw a human being on the whole route....There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
From: Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad