Ezekiel 12

DateVersionReading Plan
@September 1, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Judah’s Captivity Symbolized


The chapter opens with God coming to Ezekiel “in the midst of the rebellious house” to prepare an exile’s baggage. This was to be a representation of the peoples’ exile and was to be done “in their sight”. Ezekiel was told to “dig through the wall, and bring your baggage out through it” (Ezek. 12:5), which indicated exile to Ezekiel’s readers as conquering armies would dig through the wall to enter the city (Amos 4:3).

In Ezek. 12:7, Ezekiel did as he was commanded, carrying his baggage on his shoulders “in their sight”. The baggage symbolized the remnant that would be led out of the homeland as captives.

In Ezek. 12:8-16, God gives Ezekiel a response to the people who ask what he is doing. Ezekiel’s oracle concerned the “prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel” and that he and his baggage were symbols of their exile (Ezek. 12:11). Ezekiel explains that he had been dramatizing the captivity and exile of Zedekiah and his officials. The prince (Zedekiah) was to “cover his face”, a symbolic prophecy of the blinding of the king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in his exile to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7). Zedekiah would die in exile and his troops would be scattered, many will fall by the sword (Ezek. 12:14). However, some will be preserved, a remnant; spared in order to declare their abominations and to acknowledge the one, true God.

In Ezek. 12:17-20, Ezekiel is told by God to eat his bread “with quaking, and drink water with trembling and with anxiety.” (Ezek. 12:17). This was a pre-picture of the fear and anxiety that would precede the exile. The inhabited cities will be laid waste and they will come to know the LORD for who He is.

Ezek. 12:21-25 is of a proverb, popular among the people, that God’s prophecies of doom were never fulfilled. In this, God gave them another proverb, announcing that the day of fulfillment was at hand and that every prophecy would come to pass. There will be no more “false vision or flattering divination” (Ezek. 12:14) and the word God speaks will “no longer be delayed” (Ezek. 12:15).

The final verses (Ezek. 12:26-28) are of another false notion among the people that Ezekiel’s vision was “for many days from now”. (Ezek. 12:27) God through Ezekiel makes clear that His words will be fulfilled with immediacy; none of His words “will be delayed any longer” and the word He speaks “will be performed”. (Ezek. 12:28).


Ezekiel and his baggage was a symbol of the forthcoming exile of the people. Despite their denial, this was to be in the immediate future. A proverb had circulated among the people that God’s prophecies were never fulfilled, a gross misinterpretation of God’s longsuffering and the staying of His hand in mercy. They had to be reminded of the power of God and His words.

When God speaks, things happen. Big things, like the creation of the universe ex nihilo. As we daily dwell in the manifestation of His speech, it is easy to lose sight of how it all came to be. We can waffle in our appreciation of the awesomeness of our God and, much like the Israelites, need to be refreshed in our understanding and humbled by magnitude of our Creator. And as we properly grasp Him in the macro, let it lead to greater admiration of Him in the micro; His presence and intimacy to draw individual hearts to Himself. How amazing is our God who transcends the heavens and yet has regard for the broken and sinful.

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