the Apocalypse Chronicles television program which I host, we
recently revisited the colorful subject of Ezekiel's Beard -- 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 unusual prophecy
found in Ezekiel 5, it is a premier example of how the language of prophetic
metaphor serves to communicate depth and dimension in the context of
doctrine. We also note that, as is the case with all important doctrine,
metaphoric accounts in Scripture require a "second witness" elsewhere in the
Word of God to validate their authenticity.
"At the mouth of two
witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established"
In the present instance, the
doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught throughout the New
Testament, and the imagery seen in the story of Ezekiel's Beard
provides yet another witness to the triune nature of all things.
However, the story of Ezekiel's
Beard is also profoundly prophetic, for it also shows the ongoing
nature 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 documenting the tripartite nature of all creation, in what we call the
"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 weigh, and divide the
hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a 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"
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" – yet
another 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 sheer 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 that by the mouth of two or three witnesses is a thing
established, we hasten to point out this concept of the division 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
"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 chapter in
Ezekiel elaborates on just what that means, and provides us with crucial
"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 the third which the prophet was instructed to "burn
with fire." This indicates 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 – which was symbolized by the portion of Ezekiel'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.
Actually there are multiple
Scriptural accounts where the old English term "pestilence" is equated with a
judgment that dissolves, or decomposes the object of the
judgment. Indeed, the same verse says that through this process, this third is
to be "consumed"
5:12). This is very important, because it plainly shows that when
"fire" and "burning" (a process which consumes) are
used to describe judgment, it is not at all inconsistent to associate that
concept with "pestilence" and/or "famine," because that 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
adjacent passages where God decrees famine and pestilence, which consumes, just
as fire consumes. And there is more.
As the Father introduces the
redundancy used to describe these judgments the second time, He tells Israel
this 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), suggesting certain "believers" are the current
object of this frightening denunciation.
Of course, the overwhelming
majority of those who profess themselves to be "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 those who have truly placed their trust in Him.
There is another thread of
thought which occurs in this same prophecy. Although the primary division is in
thirds, the prophet is also told to take a very small portion of
the hairs which are drawn from his beard.
"Thou shalt also take thereof
a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take of them
again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; [from
there] shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 5:3).
To summarize the pattern seen
in this mysterious prophecy, the main division of Ezekiel's beard conforms to
Zechariah's outline (as well as many other prophecies which address the Triuniverse),
wherein two parts are "cut off" and a third is dispersed and
refined. Zechariah tells us this last "third" is chosen by the LORD to
be cleansed and purified, and as the LORD works in their midst, they will
"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 13:9).
Notice how this third "part"
is translated into a "they," once the Lord has refined and purified them as
"gold is tried" and as "silver is refined" in Zechariah 13:9.
However, the imagery in
Ezekiel's prophecy also has this additional group, which is far smaller, and it
is set aside for a special function. The text tells us they are "a few in
number," but it is through them that God will bring forth "a
fire" which is to affect "all the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 5:3).
Since this is, after all, an
Old Testament prophecy, it is relatively easy to associate the "few in number"
with the Apostolic period, in which a dozen disciples were manifested as
the "few" who were "chosen" to turn the world upside down.
"The harvest truly is great,
but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the
harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2).
Moreover, since the world
population has soared, and many events seen in the early church routinely
prefigure events occurring at the end of the age, it's difficult not to connect
the relatively small group known as the 144,000 with the "few in number" who
profoundly impact "all the house of Israel" in our time.
The book of Revelation tells
us this group is distinct from the larger body of Christ, and it is self
evident their presence significantly influences the much larger bride of the
Lord of glory.
"After this I beheld, and,
lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed
with white robes, and palms in their hands: And cried with a loud voice,
saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb"
(Revelation 7:9, 10).
Instead of seeking to
interpret the various roles anticipated in the allegory of Ezekiel's
Beard, let us now rejoice in fellowship with the heavenly host as we
collectively praise the LORD of glory.
"Blessing, and glory, and
wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for
ever and ever, Amen" (Revelation 7:12).