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Day 187 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 5 – Ezekiel cuts off his hair and uses it to symbolize the fates of the people of Israel. A third of the people, he shows, will die by fire in the siege; another third by the sword; and the last third will be scattered to the winds among the nations. Ezekiel’s description of the wrath of God against His people is one of the darkest and most terrifying passages in the book.
In communicating the filth of sin and the horror of God’s judgment, Ezekiel is echoing the teaching of the entire Bible. Though we often minimize and rationalize our sin, the Bible teaches that it is unspeakably evil and deserving of the severest punishment. As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Understanding the horror of our sin grants understanding of the magnificence of the grace that rescues us from it and from its consequences. All of this helps us understand why Jesus had to suffer so terribly to save us from our sin. God’s judgment is not a trivial, easily endured thing. It is terrible. When Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), He was experiencing the terrible wrath of God on our behalf.
Even here, however, God does not fail to show mercy to His people. He instructs Ezekiel to rescue a few of the hairs—symbolizing the people—from the destruction and to “bind them in the skirts of [his] robe.” These are the people of the remnant whom God will save from the calamity.
How does remembering what Jesus endured because of our sin, lead you to worship Him?
Ezekiel 6 & 7 – Ezekiel pronounces judgment against both the mountains (chapter 6) and the low-lying land (chapter 7) of Israel. Nothing escapes God’s judgment. The city, the people, and now the very rocks and dirt will fall under it.
When Adam and Eve plunged humanity into sin, it was not only humanity that was affected. The entire cosmos was thrown into upheaval. The creation itself, therefore, groans, awaiting its day of release, of final redemption—which will come when humanity is redeemed (Romans 8:18–23). And in counter-parallel to the events of the original fall, when humanity is restored, so too will be all of creation.
In Jesus, who has already come once and who will one day come again, this restoration is sure. For He has been raised from the dead, the “firstfruits” of the dawning new creation. The risen Jesus is the first installment of one great harvest, in which all Believers, united to Jesus, are invincibly included in a renewed creation.
How does this truth lead you to serve Jesus today and look forward to a perfect eternity with Him?
Ezekiel 8 – To show the unimpeachable rightness of God’s judgment against His people, Ezekiel is taken in a vision to the temple in Jerusalem, where the people’s idolatries are exposed in excruciating detail. No one is sure precisely what the “image of jealousy” was (8:3), but it was a flagrant offense against the one true God. Digging through the outer wall of the temple, Ezekiel sees idolatrous images engraved on the walls, and the elders of Israel engaged in pagan worship. The abhorrent idolatry of Israel is deep and shocking. The people even turn their backs on the Lord so that they may worship the sun (8:16).
In response (chapter 9), God executes His judgment against the city, appointing six angels to kill the people. It was not a random judgment, however. God was meticulous in His execution of punishment, instructing another angel to mark those who “sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed” in Jerusalem (9:4).
All this drives home the truth that God’s punishment of Israel is neither arbitrary nor haphazard. On the contrary, it is fully deserved and it is carried out with utmost care. The people have been disobedient to God’s law (5:6–8). They have committed violence and oppression (7:23; 9:9). They have committed gross idolatry, and through it all they have been marked by a high-handed arrogance and pride (7:19; 11:1–3). Thus, as in the rest of the Bible, God’s anger is not an out-of-control lashing out. It is a settled, intense, and even meticulous opposition to sin. The impression left by the execution of punishment against Jerusalem is not one of chaos but rather of God’s determined and scrupulous judgment against Israel for her sin. That should be a sobering thought for anyone who knows themselves to a be a sinner before God. The God who made us and judges us does not take sin lightly, and He does not overlook sin. He judges it, carefully and unfailingly.
Many people think that grace is a matter of God simply turning His eyes away from sin—ignoring it or “sweeping it under the rug.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace is something entirely different; it is God pouring out His full judgment against sin, but doing so on His Son rather than on the sinner. God does not ignore our sin, even as He saves us. He punishes His Son in our place. In this way He shows supreme mercy while upholding perfect justice (Romans 3:26). “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
How does this lead you to worship Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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