The elders of Israel come to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. The Lord responds saying He will not be inquired of by them; instead the Lord instructs Ezekiel to tell the elders of Israel His story, beginning with the oath He made with Jacob’s descendants to bring them out of the oppression they were under in Egypt. The Lord’s story highlights Israel’s rebellion in contrast to God’s mercy.
The Lord says He promised to bring them out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey. “Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.”
In the wilderness, “I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths.” Therefore the Lord told that generation that they would not enter the promised land; He would take their children into the land flowing with milk and honey. “Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; but they profaned My Sabbaths.”
The Lord says when He brought them into the promised land, “they saw all the high hills and all the thick trees, there they offered their sacrifices and provoked Me with their offerings… For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live… I will not be inquired of by you. What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’”
God tells the elders that they have been unfaithful, just like their fathers, but the Lord will restore them one day and it will not be because of anything they have done. He will restore them because of His mercy and grace and His name’s sake; then the people will truly repent – “Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel.”
Ezekiel once again warns Israel of the judgment coming from Babylon and says it will impact everyone, both the righteous and the wicked. Ezekiel’s heart breaks over the news of the coming disaster – “‘Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord God.”
We live in a broken, fallen world where the righteous are impacted by the actions of the wicked. God has promised that some would be taken into captivity, some would die by the sword, some by a plague, and some by famine. Therefore, all will be impacted by the Lord’s judgment one way or another. However, the righteous will only have temporary suffering on this side of heaven with the hope of eternal peace with the Lord. For the wicked, the unrepentant sinner, there will never be peace.
Tomorrow, Babylon invades Jerusalem. Keep reading. (Ezekiel 20:1-22:16)