As the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem, God tells Ezekiel to relate an allegory to the people. Ezekiel rolls his eyes and whips out a pen.
The allegory takes the form of a command: set a pot with water in it over a fire and put in choice pieces of meat from the best member of the flock.
Ezekiel was a Temple priest, so he was probably in charge of tending to pots cooking sacrificial meat. Basically, the whole "meat in the pot" image would've symbolized a divine offering prepared by the people for their God, just as it was in the Temple.
But, God says, no matter how choice the pieces of meat are, it's just not gonna cut it.
No matter how you heat this pot, says God, the rust won't disappear from it—Israel is like a rusty pot that won't get clean, which is why God is attacking it and judging it.
Translation: Even though Israel might be trying to put their best foot forward (collecting the choicest pieces of meat), God's not fooled, since their corruption runs too deep.
And he doesn't want your meat stew anymore either, Israel. God tells them to empty it out and give up. He's pretty sure the only thing to do is burn everything and start over. Sigh.
God Kills Ezekiel's Wife
Next, God says he's going to kill Ezekiel's wife. He orders him not to show mourning, only to be sad inwardly.
So God kills Ezekiel's wife as a symbolic act. To make a point. Right.
People ask Ezekiel why he isn't doing the traditional acts of mourning. Ezekiel says it's because God's going to destroy their city and kill their children and they won't be able to do the traditional form of mourning either.
So Ezekiel's just demonstrating what they'll need to do. It stinks being the first out of the gate.
When all this happens, a messenger will report it to these people (who will be fleeing Jerusalem or something), and they'll all be horrified that God is present and trying to kill them.