1Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.
The elders here are men who worship idols. They have come to inquire of Ezekiel what Jehovah has to say about all these things.
2And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 3Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?
God tells Ezekiel that these elders have turned to idol worship and worse, led people astray. Who are they then to come inquire of Jehovah in light of this?
4Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; 5That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. 6Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: 8And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Jehovah tells Ezekiel to tell these elders that those who are idol worshipers and lead others to idol worship and decide to come to Jehovah God through false prophets that claim to speak from God, God will respond based on their idol worship. He wants to hit them where it hurts most because their idols have come between Him and them. He tells them to receive any useful prophecy from God, from His prophet, they need to turn away from each and every idol, from all of their abominations (all forms of the multiculturalism that corrupts them). God’s only answer to them for their evil is that He will utterly destroy those wicked people out from among the Jews making a symbol and an example of them for future generations.
9And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; 11That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.
When these elders go to the false prophets who claim to speak for God and their “divinations” turn out to be false, God will destroy that false prophet from among the people for his lies so that his punishment is equal to the punishment of those who inquired of him.
The statement here that “I Jehovah have deceived that prophet” is not a statement of active lying but of a thing that God permitted to happen.
12The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 13Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: 14Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
This is an important metaphor here looking to places like 2 Peter 3 and Revelation. If the land (earth) sinneth (continuing sin), then God will destroy the land (earth). The land (the people) are destroyed. God brings up the examples of Noah and Daniel and Job. In Noah’s day, the earth (the people) was destroyed by the Flood, but Noah was saved by Noah’s righteousness. Daniel and Job faced their own trials among wicked people and were again saved because of their own righteousness.
15If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: 16Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate. 17Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:18Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. 19Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: 20Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
Noah was saved but could not save the wicked of his time from the Flood. Job, who was righteous, did not have the power to save his own children from death. Daniel, a righteous man (a contemporary with Ezekiel and already in captivity for 14 years and already a popular figure under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule) could not save his people from captivity. If these righteous men lived in Jerusalem during this time, even they would not be able to save anyone but themselves from the destruction and desolation to come.
See also again that war (sword), famine, death (from pestilence and disease), and even wild (noisome) beasts are envisioned here as tools to punish Jerusalem. We see these images again in Revelation personified and made most terrible. Both people and (domesticated) beasts would be emptied from the land because of these four tools.
This is a perspective of personal vs. national righteousness. An individual who is righteous may have been saved from the destruction, but when God declares a nation as wicked and soon to be punished, no man, even a righteous one, can stop it. In the time of Christ, many individual Jews obeyed the gospel and were saved. But that did not prevent Jerusalem from falling to the Romans.
It is interesting to note that Daniel and Noah were real people. That Job is listed among them indicates that he also was real, though some today believe him to be only a character in a story.
21For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? 22Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. 23And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord GOD.
Even when these four tools of God are brought against them, God will preserve a remnant (those in captivity like Ezekiel and Daniel). God then provides comfort by telling them that He has done nothing of this without reason. It is a function of His infinite Justice and Truth.
In Truth and Love,