In Ezek 5, Ezekiel was instructed to shave off his hair and beard as a sign to Jerusalem. This sign showed the men of Judah the thoroughness with which the Lord intended to destroy those who refused to do his statutes and judgments.
The sign of Ezekiel’s hair – Ezekiel 5:1-4 – Ezekiel was told to use a sharp knife, a barber’s razor, to shave off all the hair on his head and beard. Then, with balances, he was to weigh and divide the hair into thirds. He burned a third in the midst of the city that he had portrayed on the tile in chapter 4. He was to wait until after the days of the siege, Ezek 4:3. He smote a third with a knife. And he scattered a third in the wind. And then he was told to draw a sword after them.
The Lord also told Ezekiel to take a few of the hairs and bind them in his skirts. Then he was to take those hairs and cast them in the fire.
Ezekiel’s sign is similar to Isaiah’s prophesy about the king of Assyria coming against Israel in Is 7:20. These thorough destructions were fulfilled in Israel by Assyria and in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
The reason for the sign – Ezek 5:5-11 – The Lord stated plainly, “this is Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is in the midst of the nations. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are to the west, and Assyrians, Babylonians, Medians, and Persians are to the east.
The Lord sent destruction to Israel because they had became more corrupt than the heathen nations around them, Ezek 5:6. You can see examples of their corruption in Jer 2:10-11 and Ezek 16:46-48. Therefore, God said he will execute judgments against them, Ezek 5:8. The Lord warned them that his fury was going to be bad, Ezek 5:9. The fathers and sons would eat each other, Ezek 5:10; Lev 26:29, Deut 28:53-57. We see an example of this in 2 Ki 6:28-29.
They had defiled the sanctuary with their detestable things, Ezek 5:11. Josiah had to cleanse the temple of them in 2 Ki 23:4, 6-7, 11-14. In Ezek 8:10, Ezekiel saw some of these detestable things. The Lord said that he would not spare or pity them. In Ezek 5:13 the Lord said he wouldn’t stop until his anger was accomplished.
The interpretation of the sign – Ezek 5:12-17 – The third of the hair that was burned represents those who die by famine and pestilence. Men in a famine look like they have been burned, Lam 4:8, 5:10. The third of the hair smitten with a knife represents those who die by the sword. The third scattered in the wind represents those who are scattered among the nations, where many of them die. All that will remain is a remnant, Ezek 6:8. The few in Ezekiel’s skirt are like the remnant that was left with Gedaliah in Jer 40:5. When Gedaliah was slain by Ishmael, Johanan the son of Kareah led them to Egypt, where most of them died, Jer 42:19-22; Jer 43.
God said that after his fury is poured out, “I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.”
In Ezek 5:14-15 those scattered among the nations are a reproach, taunt, instruction, and astonishment. The nations ridicule Israel with their taunts. But, in time, the same thing is going to happen to those nations that happens to Israel, Jer 25:15-28. So, the Jews scattered among the nations are “an instruction.”
In Ezek 5:16 the famine that God sends breaks the staff of bread. A staff is something that sustains. Therefore, in the famine, they won’t have enough food to sustain life.
In Ezek 5:17 God sends famine and evil beasts. We see a reference to these two things in Rev 6:6-8, during the Tribulation. Thus, Ezekiel’s sign will also be fulfilled in the Tribulation. The beasts are literal, like the lions that attacked the people who were moved into Samaria, 2 Ki 17:26. And they are also symbolic of kings who beasts, Rev 16:10. See Nebuchadnezzar and the king of Assyria in Jer 50:17. They bereave the Jews. That is, they deprive them of life and leave them desolate by death.
The mention of the pestilence and the sword together reminds us of the pestilence God sent upon Israel after David numbered Israel, 1 Chr 21:12, 14-16. The three days of pestilence were accomplished by a sword in the hand of an angel.
Conclusion: This terrible sign and prophecy against Israel was intended to cause Israel to repent of their detestable things and their refusal to obey God. Because they didn’t, and God knew they wouldn’t, this prophecy was fulfilled and will be fulfilled to a greater degree in the Tribulation. When you are warned of impending wrath and fury at the hand of the Lord, you’d better turn and get right with God. When he executes his judgment, he means business.