Ezekiel 20 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
Contrary to the man-made proverb found in chapter eighteen that Israel had coined in which they accused God of unfairly condemning the contemporary generation for the sins of previous generations, now the Lord lays out the case against Ezekiel’s contemporaries for following the same wicked practices that their fathers, grand fathers and even great-great grandfathers had kept particularly in reference to their idolatry. Thus just as the Israelites had come out of Egypt and wandered through the wilderness for forty years still worshipping their idols, so their children were worshipping idols in the Promised Land for hundreds of years and now their descendants were still worshipping idols even in the midst of exile. Would they never learn?
As the Lord recounts this very depressing story of Israel’s unfaithfulness, he reminds the elders of Israel just how many times he had considered wiping them out as a people but didn’t for the sake of his own name. Clearly, Israel had played the harlot again and again inflaming God’s jealousy and wrath against them, yet God would keep his covenant of love always preserving a remnant of God’s people who would bear his name. Nevertheless, even this remnant situated now in Babylon was limping between two opinions seeking to worship their idols alongside of the Lord or else to worship the Lord through an image that they could carry with them and manipulate to do their bidding. So here the Lord warns the elders of Israel that this hypocrisy cannot go on indefinitely, for twice he warns them that they may not consult him with divided hearts. If they want his help they must confess their sins, put away their idols and wholly serve the Lord. Otherwise they too will certainly perish.
Nevertheless, the Lord makes an astounding promise to the true remnant of God’s people in exile. In vv.33-44 he swears that he will be a king over his people when he brings them out of exile and back into the land of promise. He will reign over them in righteousness and justice purging out all the evildoers from the land. In the future, all of God’s people would serve the Lord on God’s holy mountain so that all the peoples might know that God is the Lord. On that day all people would loathe their sin and rejoice in the goodness of God. Although Israel did get a foretaste of this when the Jews first returned to Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, the fullness of the promise is still yet to be realized, when all the people put away their idols and serve the Lord in true holiness with grateful hearts.
Of course, that day would only come after God had finally poured out his wrath upon his only Son. Many times throughout the years He had held back his hand from judgment for the sake of his own name, but at the appointed time on Calvary, the Lord poured out his full wrath upon Jesus in order to save His people from certain destruction. On that day He cursed his own son in order that he might bless Israel and all those grafted into the vine of the true Israel through faith in the Lord Jesus. And as a result, the Lord now draws near to sinners through the blood of Christ saying to them “I will be inquired of by you,” and “pray to me, and I will hear you.”
With such a great salvation and with such wonderful access to the throne of God through prayer how could we then still turn toward idolatry? Even though our judgment has been settled at Calvary, our friendship and fellowship with the Lord can still ebb and flow through sin and idolatry. If we seek to live hypocritically before the Lord we will surely quench the Spirit’s work within us and grieve him by our sin. It is only through true repentance and faith that that relationship can be restored so that our prayers might not be hindered.
Therefore, seek the Lord while he may be found, repent of any known sin that the Lord brings to your attention and cast out all your detestable idols that provoke the Lord to jealousy. For He is your husband who has promised to love you and He is your King who has promised to rule over you.