by Pastor David Groendyk
Ezekiel has been commanded by God to act out some object lessons for the nation of Judah in the past two chapters, including carving a map of Jerusalem on a brick, lying on his side, and shaving off his hair. However, chapter 6 is pure verbal prophecy. The latter half of chapter 5 and all of chapter 6 are filled with the covenantal curses that God had earlier promised his people he would send if they forsook their covenant with him (see Deut. 28:15–68). Being chased by the sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence were all part of the exact consequences God predicted would happen. Let’s look more closely at how and why God carries out his judgment.
Verses 1–7 and verses 11–14 are primarily focused on God destroying both the idolaters in Judah as well as the actual idols. This is a full-blown purge of the evil and wickedness in the land, and this purge will be the final nail in the coffin that proves to the people that there is no other God but Yahweh over the whole earth. Four times in this short chapter the phrase “they (or you) shall know that I am the Lord” appears. Both in his utter power (vv. 7, 13, 14) but also in the surety of his promises coming to pass (v. 10), the world will be able to see that there is only one Almighty Lord.
However, beyond the simple transactional aspect of God’s wrath repaying human rebellion, we have two more descriptions of how horrific sin is. The first description is God describing himself as being “broken” over his people whoring after other gods and other loves (v. 9). Later, in chapter 16, God will be likened to a loving and sacrificial husband to his people who is rejected and despised by the very woman he rescued from death. Idolatry and adultery are very closely linked in the Old Testament. In a sense, idolatry is adultery against God—cheating on him by giving your love and affection to something or someone else. God is not just a King who justly doles out justice upon those who disobey him; God is a husband and rescuer who is broken when we sin against him. Do you consider God’s deep sorrow when you think about your own sin? The second description of how bad sin is also comes in verse 9 when God says that the remnant who are left alive after the sword strikes everyone down will be loathsome in their own eyes. A good synonym for ‘loathsome’ would be ‘disgusting’. Sinners are meant to see themselves as filthy, stinking, disappointing people because of their sin. The only way any of us can be saved is if we come to this deep realization about who we are. Our own sin is personally offensive to God, and it should be personally offensive to ourselves.
While this chapter is overall pretty dark and hopeless in its tone, there is just a sliver of hope in verse 8: “Yet I will leave some of you alive.” In the midst of disgusting and heartbreaking sin, there is a beam of light. God’s grace reaches out to save the very loathsome sinners that should be condemned. God’s unbreakable promises of redemption are available to all who simply repent and turn their lives over to God. It is a sweet and miraculous thing that God does for us in saving us through Jesus Christ. I encourage you to look ahead to Ezekiel 16:1–14 for a moving (albeit, slightly graphic) description of God’s rescue. Whether you have never once turned to Christ for salvation, or whether you have been actively running from God for a time, or whether you are simply struggling with your remaining indwelling sin, his promises and grace are extended to you. Lay aside your sin, call on his name to save you, and turn to him to save you.