by Pastor Mark Hudson
Ezekiel is singing the same song. He begins this chapter by stating the authority he has. “The word of the Lord came to me.” His sermon or preaching is not what you want to hear. Where is the ‘repent and God will forgive’?
What about these verses:
Ex. 34:6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
Neh. 9:17 “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.”
2Chr. 30:9 For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you if you return to him.”
Those verses still stand. Unless you harden your heart again and again and refuse the word of God, then the words of Ezekiel also stand. Notice some of the repeat ed phrases: The end has come (vs. 2, 3, 6, 7, 12 (time), 10 (the day). Not the end is coming, or the end is close or there will be an end but ‘the end has come. Those words bounced off their hearts and ears. They refused to take God’s words through Ezekiel to heart. They will not be given more time. And yet, Ezekiel in Babylon and Jeremiah in Jerusalem keep preaching and warning. This is like stereo hearing the same message in both places. This judgment is certain and will not be revoked
‘I will punish you according to your ways’ or similar wording v. 4, 8, 9, 27. They are judged justly according to their deeds. In other words, they are not innocent (8:6, 9-18). What are they doing? Idolatry as we see in chapter 8 and 6:13. Violence as we read in vs. 11, 23, 8:17. They trusted in their wealth and misused it (vs. 11,19 [it was the stumbling block of their iniquity], they are altogether given over to rejecting Yahweh. God did not merely find they broke one little law tucked away so no one could find it. God is fairly, justly, righteously punishing His people. God will enumerate their sins. The Jews or we, cannot claim ignorance.
“My eyes will not spare you, nor will I have pity” or similar words of certain judgment in vs. 4, 9, 22. As we listed a few verses at the beginning this may be a challenge to think about. God will not always pity. He will not always spare. There is coming a time when he will say to an unbeliever, “I will turn my face from (you), as He says in v. 22. What a terrible day that will be. This is the end of all who do not believe. For all who say they are Christians but never go to church there will be no grace but justice. For those professing but not possessing genuine faith they will say to Him, “Lord, Lord” and He will say I never knew you.
We also see a refrain of ‘Then you will know that I am the Lord’ in vs. 4, 9, 27. God reveals the profundity of Himself in judgment. In fact, without the hatred of His wrath and the righteousness of punishment, we will not know the true God. God is doing all this for multiple reasons. He has millions of reasons for everything He does, and they all accomplish what He desires. He longs that His people, first, would know Him. Then He wants others to know Him. In John 10:16, Jesus said, ‘And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.’
Judgment is a way to show His glory. God does not distance Himself from His judgment. He does not try to explain His wrath away. God owns His just, righteous, eternal wrath. Many of the people we know, and love will experience that wrath. On that day, no one will argue for long. Some may say at the day of judgment, ‘Lord, I did a lot of work in Your name. Now can you step out of the way so I can claim my rightful place? What? What do you mean You don’t know me? I sacrificed for You! Now let me in. Now!’ But their lies will end.
Another aspect of God’s judgment is using foreign nations. Read v. 21 and just stop and consider the exiles. Who removed them from the promised land but foreigners? Where is Ezekiel saying these things but in Babylon. Who destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. but the Romans? God uses ungodly nations to discipline godly Israel. One wonders if that happens now. Does God use ungodly people to discipline us?
As we read in this text, God is angry, and His wrath is great. As Jona-than Edwards said to the people of Enfield CT on July 8, 1741, “The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the wa-ters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
Our heavenly Father, We acknowledge You as a God of love, justice, ho-liness, and wrath. We praise You that You are truth, and You hate evil. All that You do is right and good. We praise You for all evil ends at Your throne. There will be justice . . . finally. In the meantime, we will be the ones sighing and groaning “over the abominations that are committed” (Ez. 9:4) in our country. And we will forever glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ for all who believe. In Christ’s name. Amen.