Series on Ezekiel, I The Fall of Jerusalem, D Future Judgment, Text: 6:1-7:27, Title: Strange Truth about God in Judgment

Introduction

We have seen Ezekiel’s vision of God, heard his commission to serve, and watched him portray the fact that God’s judgment is just. Now, we are confronted with some unusual aspects of that judgment that give us a window on the character of God. it is a window through which modern  Christians do not often look because they are largely uninformed about who God is. Everyone should read John Stott’s “Knowing God,” for greater insight. The aspects of judgment that are revealed here are: the cost, the clapping, the carefulness, and the cause.

I The Cost

In 6:1-10 we see the awful cost of coming under judgment. Verses 9 and 10 remind us that God was crushed by their idolatrous hearts, Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me-how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the LORD; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them. Notice in verse 10 that they did not really know God until they felt his wrath. They thought they knew Him, because they were his chosen people, but their hideous idolatry is exposed in verses 3-6, I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols. I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live, the towns will be laid waste and the high places demolished, so that your altars will be laid waste and devastated, your idols smashed and ruined, your incense altars broken down, and what you have made wiped out. In those days worship of idols required the purchase of animal sacrifices and incense, bowing to the idol, kissing it, riotous eating and drinking, and sexual immorality. So, a self-declared jealous God brought judgment upon them that cost not only their heathen idols, but their homes, God’s own city and sanctuary, and their very lives. They could not believe that Yahweh who loved them and chose them would visit them with such complete annihilation. Now they would know as we read in verse 7, Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the LORD. Multitudes of American Christians are being fed a false gospel that says God is love while ignoring His holiness, but God will destroy even  that which is his own to protect His holiness. This ignorance is at the root of much that is wrong in our society.

II The Clapping

Striking the hands together as in verse 11 is clapping, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out ‘Alas!’ because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. This is a taunting, sarcasm, ridicule and mockery. Ezekiel employs this often in his prophecies against the nations in chapters 27-32. God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but when we see his judgment that is so equitable and fair and appropriate, we are moved to say how fitting it is. This taunt emphasizes that Israel is receiving its just deserts. It’s like seeing a child in a store who is answering back, being destructive, losing its temper, and striking out, and when the parent finally takes control and administers the “board of education,” we are satisfied. This awesome nature of this punishment should fill us with the reverent fear of the Lord in all that we do. We cannot trifle with God.

III The Care

In 7:1-9 we see that God is not some careless and indulgent parent who tolerates wrong-doing and does nothing about it. He is not a Santa  Claus, a doting grandfather who avoids reality. I am especially interested in verse 9, I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the LORD who strikes the blow. The Hebrew says “It is I Jahweh Makkeh.” The LORD identifies Himself by different names, such as “Yahweh Nissi,” the LORD our banner, and “Yahweh Jireh,” the LORD our provider, but here he is the LORD our striker. Parents who are determined to use only “positive reinforcement” in discipline, and never spank their children, are not God-like. God spanks us when we need it, and more severely than any of us would ever punish our children because we need it. Those who prefer modernist psychology to the wisdom of God end up with spoiled children. And God said, “That’s enough.” And, He is thorough. Both in verses 3 and 8 God repeats the verdict, I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. Note that they are punished for “all” their sins. God loves, provides, and defends, but he also strikes.

IV The Cause

The ultimate truth in 7:10-22 is that God’s people caused all this devastation. Observe two things here. The first is their trust in prosperity and they forgot God. They fulfill the words of Deuteronomy 7:10-12, When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you-a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build,  houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant-then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in his first letter 1: 9 that it was reported that they had turned from idols to serve the living God. The report about Israel was the exact opposite. They turned from the living God to serve dead idols, and they sacrificed to these idols to obtain all sorts of material health and blessings. Paul wrote in I Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. In other words there is no kind of evil off  limits if the money is right. And what happens to all that prosperity, that evil gain? We see it in  verses 11-13, and again in verses 19-22, Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd-no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd.   The seller will not recover the land he has sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed...They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin.  They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will enter it and desecrate it. The rod of pride has become a rod of punishment. I am sure these people were just like the people in the days of Malachi. When he told them that they had robbed God, they said, Wherein have we robbed him? These people gave all the money and the glory to dead false idols. There was nothing left for God. Do  not believe the prosperity gospel that says if you give to God you will become rich and the more you give the richer you will become. It is a trap. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes down from God, but my friends every good and perfect gift can be taken away by God when He is fed up with our greed and idolatry. Do we really know who the LORD is? Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the LORD.