Sunday, March 23, 2014

EZEKIEL 7: JUDGMENT HAS ARRIVED

7:1-9
The Arrival of God’s Wrath

Chapter 6 contained a judgment against the mountains of Israel. Chapter 7 is a judgment against the land, or soil. Both are symbols of the people or nation of Israel.

In this chapter, God stressed that the time for punishment had come. There was no longer a way of escape. He said their end had come (2, 5), their doom had come (7), and their time had come (7). He said it repeatedly, at least 7 times in these first 13 verses. There was no time left for repentance. (9)

We like to speak of God’s patience. He had been patient with Israel for centuries. He has been patient with us for centuries. Peter wrote “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:7)

But the time will come when God’s patience is exhausted and his judgment will be executed. That time came for Israel. God, through Ezekiel, tells them their time of judgment has come. God said he would have no pity and he would not spare them. (4)

The day will also come when God’s final judgment will come. There will be no more chance for repentance, just judgment upon those who do not follow Christ. The Lord will come with ten thousand angels and execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed. (Jude 14-15) The Book of Revelation also shows us an end to patience and the finality of judgment.

Death is also the end of God’s mercy and patience on us who perish before the end of the age. Hebrews 9:27 tells us there is a time for us to die and after that comes the judgment.

What was God judging Israel for? Their ways and their abominations. He said it twice in this section. (4, 8) Their ways were not just. They violated the covenant principles in the way they were to treat others. These are spelled out in the second part of the chapter. They were also to be judged for their abominations.

Abomination likely refers again to idol worship and the things that go with it. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 lists abominations to the Lord and includes sacrificing children, practicing divination, telling fortunes, interpreting omens, practicing sorcery, and acting as a medium (one who contacts the dead). God finds these practices abominable. They are improper worship, they are improper attempts to control the future in denial of God’s sovereignty, and they seek wisdom or knowledge from the dead rather than from God.

I find it interesting that the books that purport to tell the story of someone who went to heaven and returned usually include communication with the dead, a practice God finds abominable. Abominable means to cause disgust and hate.

We see a fair amount of this. Some practice astrology, numerology, listen to self claimed prophets who forecast the future, consult fortune tellers, communicate with the dead and other things. The attack of science on Christianity has not resulted in atheism, but paganism and abominable practices.

Certainly, none of these practices should occur in the church or among church members. God would not tolerate it in Canaan and used the Israelites to run the Canaanites out of the country. God would not tolerate it in Israel and drove Israel out of the country. Since God does not change, it makes sense that he will not tolerate it in the church either.

7:10
The Day of the Lord

Verses 10 through 12 again emphasize that the time for judgment had come. A new phrase is used in verse 10 and 12, though, “the day” or “a day”. Verse 19 refers to the day of the wrath of the Lord.

We have heard the phrase “the Day of the Lord” referring to judgment. Amos used this term. His prophecy was written before Ezekiel’s prophecy. For example, in Amos 5:18-20, Amos told them not to look forward to the day of the Lord, for it would be a day of judgment and not deliverance. (You can make the case, by the way, that Ezekiel 7 is a development of the sermon in Amos 8)

7:11-13
Pride and Violence

This second part of the chapter tells us some of the ways of the Israelites that God would judge. First, he says pride has budded. (10) It is very clear in the Bible that God hates pride. Human pride is never commended in the Bible. Pride makes us turn from God and rely on ourselves. Despite their horrible circumstances, the Jews were proud. In their pride, the rebelled against God. True worship only occurs in humility.

Some of the Jews also relied on their wealth. In verse 11 and 12, God said their wealth would not remain. There would be no buying and selling. Verse 19 says they will through their silver and gold in the street because it cannot deliver them from the day of the wrath of the Lord. There would also be no redemption of the land. Verse 13 says the seller cannot return to what he has sold, as he would either in the Sabbath year or if he could pay for it. The land will be occupied by others.

Violence had also escalated. Verse 23 referred to bloody crimes. God values human life. He calls us to account for the taking of life. Remember God’s instructions to Noah after the flood? He said he would require a reckoning for the life of men and women. One who took a life must pay with his life, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:5-6)

The news in America reports murder every day. In addition, abortion has claimed the lives of millions of children. God requires a reckoning for these lives.

7:14-17
No Escape

These verses repeat God’s promise that all would be punished. Some would die by the sword, some by famine and some by pestilence.

7:18
Shame

This verse repeats the promise of shame. The would become objects of horror to other nations and experience shame in their punishment. He again mentioned baldness, the shaving of heads as an act of humiliation.

7:20-22
The Temple Spoiled

The beautiful ornament and treasured place probably refers to the temple. The Jews profaned it by putting idols in it. Since they made it unclean to God, he would make it unclean for them, having foreigners come in and spoil it.

7:26
God’s Silence

There would also be no word from God. Verse 26 says they would seek a vision from the prophet. They would ask the prophet to tell them any good news. They wanted to be told they would survive. But, God says they seek the prophet while they abandon the law. (26) In other words, God will not speak to them through the prophet, at least in a hopeful way, while they disrespected and disobeyed the word he spoke to them in his law.

When you read of the day of God’s wrath toward Jerusalem, you cannot help but think of the day of God’s wrath upon the earth at the end of this age. Jude 18 says that in the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. That sounds accurate for today, doesn’t it?

When God begins to pour out his wrath, people will try to hide and ask to be hidden from the “face of him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath had come and who can stand.?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

Revelation shows us God pouring out wrath in stages, giving me time and motivation to repent, as he did with Israel. Yet, they do not. Then the day comes when it is all over. Judgment comes. Jerusalem and Israel were destroyed. Only then did the remnant remember that Yahweh was their lord.

As Jerusalem was destroyed by God’s wrath, so shall this creation be destroyed and all who refused to obey God are sent to destruction in hell. Only those who are in Christ, the faithful remnant, are saved to eternal life in the presence of God.

It is sad that, only when their land was made desolate, did the remnant begin to acknowledge God. But it would be worse for your soul to be made desolate.

The last words of the chapter are “and they shall know that I am the LORD”. Those who stand condemned in the final judgment will also know that he is the LORD. There is time to repent today. But who knows about tomorrow?

Repent and believe the gospel today.


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