In our study of Ezekiel chapter six, we will look at the significance of mountains and hills in the Bible. We will come to understand what God means when He says that He will judge the mountains.
The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against the mountains of Israel; prophesy against them'
In chapter 5, we saw the prophet declare judgment on the city of Jerusalem. Now, God tells him to turn to the people of the northern part of the country. In Jewish thought, mountains are associated with male leaders and hills are associated with female leaders. With that in mind, we see that Ezekiel is called to proclaim judgment on the leaders of what was known as the northern kingdom of Israel.
'and say: "You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols. I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars."'
Here, we see that the judgment is proclaimed on the leaders as well as the common man (ravines/valleys). Their idolatry would be punished and all who looked to the idols for help would perish.
'"Wherever you live, the towns will be laid waste and the high places demolished, so that your altars will be laid waste and devastated, your idols smashed and ruined, your incense altars broken down, and what you have made wiped out. Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the Lord."'
We see that this judgment was going to be on all of the land and all who trust in the things of their hands. Ever since the Tower of Babel, man has attempted to reach the heavens by their own work. The same thing was true in Ezekiel's day and is even today. In the last days, there will be the spirit that says that, if all men just band together, they can accomplish anything. Ezekiel proclaimed this judgment and tells us that its purpose is so that men will see that they are only men and God is in charge.
'"But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations."'
The principle of the remnant of God's people flows throughout the Bible and, here, it is promised again. God has always had a small group of people that, though they strayed, would always return to Him. The same thing is promised in this judgment on the northern kingdom.
'"Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me - how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices."'
This remnant of God's people all share the characteristic of a repentant heart. Though they may have faced a partial judgment by being exiled, they are yet saved from destruction. God's partial judgment was enough to get them to see their sin and to repent. This is also the basis for the great revival that will take place during the time of the Great Tribulation. Many people will face a partial judgment of God in order for them to turn to Him.
'"And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them."'
The people will see that their idols were really nothing and that God is in control of all things. The people will also see that God knew that it was necessary for them to face the partial judgment in order to bring them back to Him. In the same manner, God knows that, in the last days, men's hearts will become so hard that the only way for them to come to Him is through severe judgments.
'"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out 'Alas!' because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the people of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague."'
Once again, God tells Ezekiel to act out a scene for the people. Striking the hands together and stomping the feet was a sign of great anguish. Saying alas was a sign that the judgment had been decreed and will not be stopped.
'"One who is far away will die of the plague, and one who is near will fall by the sword, and anyone who survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I pour out my wrath on them."'
The judgment was to be on all of the people in all of the kingdom.
'"And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every lofty oak - places where they offered fragrant incense to all their idols."'
Once again, the purpose of the judgment is so that the remnant will understand that it is God that is in control. The dead are at the places where they committed their idolatry as they turned to their false leaders to save them from God's wrath.
'"And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah - wherever they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord."'
The ground itself is judged and once again it is so that the remnant will see that God is in control.