In Ezek 12:1-16 Ezekiel became a sign of removing to the prince in Jerusalem and the house of Israel that was with him. Israel was a rebellious house, having eyes and ears with which they could neither see nor hear, Ezek 12:2. Therefore, God used Ezekiel as a sign of removing to them, in hopes that they might consider the visual object lesson of the prophecy. Simply put, they were fixing to go into captivity in Babylon.
A Sign of Removing
To begin the sign, Ezekiel had to prepare stuff for removing, Ezek 12:3. This was like inhabitants seeking refuge from an invading army. They only take what they can carry on their back.
Then Ezekiel was told to remove by day in their sight. He was to go from his place to another place. He was to bring forth his stuff by day in their sight, Ezek 12:4. And then he was to go forth with his stuff at dusk, like he was going into captivity. The idea was to catch the eyes of the curious onlookers.
As an added sign, he was told to dig through the wall to carry his stuff out, Ezek 12:5. He was to bear it on his shoulders, and carry it forth at twilight (dusk), Ezek 12:6. Furthermore, he was to cover his face so that he couldn’t see the ground.
So, Ezekiel did as he was commanded, Ezek 12:7. He brought forth his stuff by day. Then he digged through the wall at even and brought forth his stuff in the twilight, bearing it upon his shoulder.
The Meaning of the Sign
Sure enough, the house of Israel wanted to know what Ezekiel was up to, Ezek 12:8-9. So, the Lord told him what to tell them.
The burden was for the prince in Jerusalem and the house of Israel that was among them there, Ezek 12:10. Ezekiel was their sign that they were going to remove and go into captivity, Ezek 12:11. The prince at that time was Zedekiah, 2 Ki 25:1-7. And he did flee at night through the wall, bearing his stuff on his shoulder, Ezek 12:12. He also covered his face and his eyes, apparently to keep from being detected.
Now there is an interesting piece to the sign that must be sorted out and reconciled with other passages in the Bible. Ezek 12:12-13 say that Zedekiah wouldn’t see Babylon. Yet, Jer 32:4-5 says that Zedekiah would see the king of Babylon with his eyes. See the same thing in Jer 34:3-4. The reconciliation is found in Jer 39:6-7. Zedekiah was brought to Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah. There, he saw the king and he saw the king slay his own sons and the nobles of Judah. Afterwards, the king put out Zedekiah’s eyes and then carried him captive to Babylon. So, he didn’t see Babylon. And he did died there.
The Few Who Escaped
According to Ezek 12:14-15, not everyone who escaped with Zedekiah was captured or killed. When the Chaldeans overtook them, the army scattered from him, 2 Ki 25:5. Some of them escaped and died by the sword, or the famine, or the pestilence. Others made it safely to other countries. God left a few of them to declare their abominations among the heathen, Ezek 12:16. That way they would know why God had sent them into captivity and scattered them. And they would also know that he is the Lord.