Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 24:1-26:21 (additional reading: Psalm 110:1-7 & Proverbs 27:14 )
God told Ezekiel to take some specific steps and live out a parable in front of the city of Jerusalem. 1) Get a pot. 2) Fill it with water. 3) Gather the choice cuts of meat from the choice of the flock. 4)Burn the bones under the pot. 5) Bring it to a boiling point. 6) Pile wood under the pot. 7) Dump the meat and broth out. 8) Put it back on the fire and burn the scum out of it.
God was showing to Jerusalem that their only hope of cleansing was through the fires of judgement. The fire of judgement has the ability to burn away everything that displeases God.
The picture is painted by God but the activity is being carried out by Ezekiel. Everything is to be thrown into the pot. The common fire of judgement would come to all classes. Jerusalem is the pot and the walls would not protect them. The heat came through the walls. Nothing on earth would protect them from the divine wrath of God. Jerusalem is imprisoned in their boiling pot with no escape. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians are the intense fire that will cleanse them.
Imagine that preacher on that day, working at that boiling pot, all the while crying out a message of doom to Jerusalem. Not a very popular message. In fact, this message is not very religiously or politically correct but God never has had much time for religion or politics.
Amidst all of this boiling there is a point that God makes. It is a scummy pot. The Hebrew word here is chelaw. Its proper meaning would be that of a disease or could even be expressed as rust that was in the pot.
Whatever word that the prophet was getting at, whether disease, scum, or rust, the fact of the matter is that God saw that the rebellious house had an impurity about it that He would not let escape His wrath. Scum is like a corrosive agent that bites into the pot like an acid. Scum reveals the inferior character of the pot. Scum attaches itself to the walls of the iron pot (It could not do so to gold or silver, which are superior to iron). Scum presents when temptation is given into quickly. It reveals an inferior base metal in the soul. Scum corrupts the very substance of the soul. Scum breaks down the integrity of the soul. Scum will wear away the resistance of the soul and scum will destroy the beauty of the soul.
The emphasis of this passage is that the pot wearied and exhausted men in their efforts to cleanse it. The only way the rust and impurity could be removed was through the fire. All of their efforts are nothing more than self-righteousness which always comes up empty. There is only one way to remove the scum, the intervention of the fire.