Ezekiel 24
(Parable of the Cooking Pot)
August 31st

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Woe to the city full of blood!
A pot containing filth,
whose filth cannot be removed!
Take out its pieces one by one,
for no lot has fallen on their behalf.

- Ezekiel 24 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

This chapter concludes a major section that depicts the disobedience of Judah and her subsequent punishment. But this chapter stands alone as one in which the judgment is portrayed from afar.

The chapter opens with the LORD instructing Ezekiel to tell the people that this is the day when the siege of Jerusalem begins. In this chapter the LORD uses a cooking pot as an analogy for Jerusalem. The choicest meats in the pot represent the chosen people and their potential for greatness. Unfortunately, they chose not to follow the LORD, so he is no longer going to tend to them. In the same way, the pot is left to boil over on the fire until the meat is gone, the bones are cooked, and the pot is encrusted with the scrummy remnants of the food. The pot eventually begins to melt away, except for its impurities – representing the remaining impurities among the people of Israel.

Tragedy becomes personal for Ezekiel in the middle of the chapter when the LORD tells him that his wife is about to die and the LORD tells him he is not allowed to mourn, even though she is the “ ‘delight of your eyes’ (24:16 - NIV).”

Ezekiel once again did as he was commanded.

This action attracted the attention of the exiles who asked for interpretation. He explained that the LORD is going to take away the pride of their eyes – the temple of Jerusalem, and they will also be commanded not to mourn. Why? Because they did not mourn when the temple was allowed to be defiled, therefore they cannot mourn when it is destroyed.

At the end of the chapter the LORD instructs Ezekiel to remain mute until news of the fall of Jerusalem arrives from a fugitive,

    “Again, you'll be an example for them. And they'll recognize that I am God."

    Ezekiel 24:27 (The Message)

Reflection and Application

There are a number of themes for us to explore in this one chapter. God gives Ezekiel specific instructions regarding what to say and then tells him not to say anything. Sometimes the LORD wants us to talk on his behalf. Other times he wants us to be quiet, either to listen and wait for him, or because our actions speak louder than words.

The context of the chapter is as follows: Up to this point the people were still hoping for an 11th hour White Night to rescue Jerusalem. But it was not God’s plan. He had given them tremendous potential and a golden opportunity to be the shining city on the hill, with adequate food, safety, and families – everything that one truly needs. But they could not stick with the program.

So instead of reading about another miraculous rescue we read that God instructed Ezekiel to tell a parable regarding stew in a cooking pot, which symbolized the end of days for Jerusalem. People living in the pre-fast food pre-microwave days could easily relate to this story.

After the parable concluded, the silent witnessing began. In one instance, God told Ezekiel not to mourn even though his wife was about to die. It would have been natural and customary for Ezekiel to participate in very public and emotional forms of mourning - but God forbid it in this case in order to make a point about the forthcoming loss of the temple. Imagine the restraint and the internal battle that he went through. He may have wondered how he would get through each minute, hour, and day - or maybe he just put himself in God's hands and surrendered his emotions.

God may allow tragedy to take place in our life and then may ask us to power through it, like he did with Ezekiel. We may not know how we can get through our own grief, but we can allow God to lead us. If you or someone you know is grief-stricken you may find solace in the Grief Recovery Workbook written by Robyn Ledwith Mar (1), who has first-hand experience in this type of situation and provides sound practical advice.

What was the problem with the relationship between the people and the temple, and why did this relatonship provoke the LORD? The crux of the situation was that they worshipped the temple instead of worshipping God at the temple. They held up the building itself as the god and then added other deities and rites to it. We don’t fall into that trap, do we?

In his book, First Things First, the late Stephen Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012) did a good job of guiding us to honestly assess our priorities. He suggested that our principles (i.e. God) should be at the top of our priority list and should drive our decisions. For example, our worship and service in the church should be designed to honor God - any other objectives should be secondary or not considered at all. That is a benchmark we can use to assess if we are on the right track or not: What priority is guiding us in worship and in other activities?

This eventful chapter closes with the silencing of Ezekiel by God in order to add emphasis to his prophesies of the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel complies. We will have to turn back to our Bibles tomorrow to see what happened next. In the meantime, let us seek God’s guidance on when to use our tongue, when to use our ears, and when to let our actions speak for us.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. When was the last time you cooked something over an open fire? How did it turn out?
    2. What is the potential that God has built inside of us and what is he calling us to do?
    3. How can we judge when is a good time to listen?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, you have given us blessings and have tended over us. Help us to make you our priority and mourn when your church is defiled.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Cooks, Chefs, and other Kitchen Workers


    (1) www.robynledwithmar.com/Grief_Recovery

    Looking Ahead
    Tomorrow's reading: Ezekiel 25-26 (Judgment Against the Nations)

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