Day 188 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 9 – Recall, in response to God’s people utter rebellion and sin, 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.
Ezekiel 10 & 11 – At the moment of judgment, Ezekiel is shown again the vision of God’s throne-chariot which he saw by the Chebar canal. This time, however, God is leaving His temple, abandoning it in its idolatry and sin. God’s departure from His temple and from Jerusalem happens in stages. First, He moves from the Most Holy Place to the threshold of the sanctuary (10:3–5). Then He moves out to the east gate of the temple complex (10:18–19). Finally, the glory of the Lord departs from the city and goes out to the mountain on the east side of the city (11:22–23).
The departure of God’s glory from the temple is a heartrending vision. This is the glory of God that led the nation from slavery in Egypt, remained with them in their wilderness wanderings, and settled among them in tabernacle and temple to declare God’s covenant faithfulness and abiding care for His people. Even here in the account of the glory’s departure, however, God’s love for His people is evident. The departure does not happen quickly. At each stage—at the threshold of the sanctuary, at the east gate, even on the mountain outside the city—God lingers before He moves further away, giving His people every opportunity to repent. Indeed He is a God of great mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love!
Most strikingly, it is at the last moment that God answers Ezekiel’s wrenching question in 11:13—“Ah, Lord God! Will You make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” The answer is no! In the first of many notes of grace sounded amid national moral catastrophe, God tells His people in 11:14–21 that He would not leave them in exile forever. There would come a day when He would gather them together again in their land, remove their hearts of stone, give them hearts of flesh, and give them a new spirit that would delight to obey Him (see 36:22–32). From the inside out, God would renew His people. They would be wholly cleansed. Sin may abound, and judgment because of sin, but grace abounds all the more!
All this would happen ultimately through the saving work of God’s Son, Jesus. In Jesus the old and new covenant is fulfilled. The long-awaited kingdom of God is inaugurated (Mark 1:15). In the coming of the Holy Spirit, the hearts of God’s people are transformed from the inside out, and Ezekiel’s prophecy is fulfilled (John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 3:3–6).
How do you show your thankfulness that God has given you a new heart?
Ezekiel 12 – Ezekiel makes a very specific prophecy about the fate of “the prince in Jerusalem.” The prophecy concerns Zedekiah, the last king of Israel, who had been installed by the king of Babylon as a puppet ruler. Reflecting this, Ezekiel pointedly refuses to call him “king,” preferring instead the term “prince.”
Though the prophecy is dated several years before the actual siege of Jerusalem, God reveals in detail what would happen to Zedekiah, the history of which is recorded in 2 Kings 25:1–7. The breach in the wall and the secret flight of Zedekiah are prophesied here, and even Zedekiah’s infamous blinding at the hands of the Babylonians seems to be prophesied obliquely by the covering of his face in Ezekiel 12:12, as well as the cryptic promise in verse 13 that he will be brought to Babylon but will never see it. Once again, God’s judgment against sin is not haphazard. It is meticulous in its detail. The God of the Bible is not ambiguous or fuzzy about sin. He is crystal clear. Sin is evil. It must be punished—or God would not be God.
This note of exacting judgment is sobering to us, as fallen humans. Yet it is also profoundly hope-giving. What if God did not abhor evil? What if the Creator had no moral compass? For one thing, we could have no sure hope that injustices committed against us would ever be put right. This life under the sun would appear to be the only sphere in which justice could be carried out, and we would be a fiercely vengeful people—unless we knew of God’s final vindication of all goodness and judgment of all wickedness. The cross of Jesus is tangible proof that God is a God who punishes sin. And most amazing of all, we find that at the cross it is His people’s sin, not Jesus’, that is punished.
The Israelites make excuses for their disbelief of Ezekiel’s warnings. First, in verse 22, they sing a jingle about how visions never come to pass and prophecies always come to nothing. Then in verses 26–28, they promise themselves that even if this prophecy comes true, it will not happen for a very long time. In both cases, God rejects their foolishness. The visions will come true, He promises, and it will be soon.
Fallen human beings are masters at concocting reasons not to listen to God’s word and not to respond to it. Our excuses, however, are as empty and as foolish as those of the people of Israel. God always keeps His promises, and He does not delay long to do so.
The supreme “word of God” to be proclaimed is the gospel itself, and the supreme folly is to resist its free offer of salvation to those who will penitently bow the knee, confess their guilt, and trust in Jesus. This “word” that is heard is given flesh-and-blood reality in the “Word” that is seen—Jesus Himself (John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:1–3).
How have you seen that before God we have no excuses? How does this truth point you to put your full faith in 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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