n the Apocalypse Chronicles radio show which I host, we recently revisited this most colorful of subjects -- and in the process, the Spirit of the LORD once again opened up new vistas of understanding. For those unaware of the significance of the amazing prophecy found in Ezekiel 5, it is a premier example of how the language of prophetic metaphor serves to communicate depth and dimension to doctrine (which must also be revealed elsewhere in plain language). In the present instance, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in the New Testament, and the imagery seen in the story of Ezekiel's Beard provides another witness to thetriune nature of all things.
However, the story of Ezekiel's Beard is also profoundly prophetic, for it also shows the ongoing future of how the LORD works with His chosen. In the passage, we find the hair and beard of the prophet is to be cut and divided into thirds, as a way of predicting the tripartite nature of all creation, in what we call theTriuniverse:
"And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weight, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with firea third part in the midst of the city, and when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them" (Ezekiel 5:1,2).
Here we see a very precise picture of the mystery of thirds, in which two thirds are destroyed, and the final third is scattered into the "wind" -- an early indicator this astonishing Word of the LORD is rich in detail, texture, and meaning. Of course, those who have zero Spiritual discernment, who have dismissed allegory and metaphor in favor of the stupidity which asserts all prophecy is literal, will manifest yet another example of those who have eyes, but cannot see, or ears which cannot hear:
"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand" (Matthew 13:13).
As the LORD also says through His prophets, by the mouth of two or three witnesses is a thing established, we hasten to point out the concept of thirds is confirmed in Zechariah, as the LORD communicates precisely the same formula of two parts cut off, and the third dispersed, purified, and redeemed:
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God" (Zechariah 13:8,9).
Back in Ezekiel, the first "third" is to be burned with fire, but the very same text elaborates on what that means, and provides us with crucial elaboration:
"Surely because thou has defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them" (Ezekiel 5:11,12).
One of the first things we see is that the first third is destroyed through "pestilence" and "famine," whereas the earlier rendition of the same division simply said that first third was imaged as the third of Ezekiel's Beard which the prophet was instructed to "burn with fire" -- an indicator the concept of burning with fire is somehow related to famine and pestilence.
This is proven by the fact that, in the second rendition of the same prophecy, the second third falls by the "sword," which is consistent with the second third, articulated earlier -- symbolized by the portion ofEzekiel's Beard which he was told to "smite" with a "knife" (Ezekiel 5:2). The final third, in the second time the cycle is mentioned, is also said to be scattered "into all the winds," which is exactly what was described earlier, so there really is no doubt about the matter.
This is hugely important, because it plainly shows that when "fire" and "burning" is used to describe judgment, it is not at all inconsistent to associate that concept with "pestilence" and/or "famine," becausethat is precisely what the LORD does when we compare verses 2 and 12 in this crucial fifth chapter of Ezekiel. This opens up all sorts of avenues for deciphering other passages where God decrees famine and pestilence, using the image of "fire." And there is more.
As the Father introduces the redundancy used to describe these judgments the second time, He tells Israelthis judgment is to be meted out without pity, because of the LORD's wrath over the fact that Israel has "defiled" His "sanctuary" with "detestable things" as well as a multitude of "abominations" -- a very harsh statement considering the alleged believer in Jesus Christ is a Spiritual Israelite, whose body is the temple(read sanctuary), and the collective believers are the current object of this frightening denunciation.
Of course, the so called "Christians" have no idea this verse is predicting what is about to happen to them, as they have long rejected their true identity, and filled their collective temples with "detestable" doctrines; but the LORD is faithful to keep His promise, and preserve a few who have heard His voice.
We'll describe those "few" in the next installment of Ezekiel's Beard.
-- James Lloyd
For details on how prophetic metaphor, parables, and similitudes are being used by God to communicate to His Remnant, see the online video on APOCALYPTIC LINGUISTICS: The Language Of Prophetic Metaphor.