“Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel.” Those who should have led Jerusalem in godliness were actually preventing true followers of the Lord from even coming into the city. They asserted their authority over the weak in what was once the Promised Land, but they themselves would not listen to the Word of the Almighty.
The Lord’s response was to tell the people once again that they would be brought beyond the borders of Israel as exiles. The reason why death and destruction were coming upon them was very obvious. “You have not walked in My statutes, nor obeyed My rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
While Jehovah’s true prophet was delivering this indictment, one of the offending leaders of the city suddenly died. Ezekiel did not revel in this tragedy, but cried out to God with lamentation. “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”
God’s response was two-fold. First, He emphasized that His grace was with His chosen people who had been forced from their homes. “I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.” They would eventually be gathered back to “the land of Israel.” But for those who were committed to unfaithfulness, “I will bring their deeds upon their own heads.”
For all who would experience His sovereign mercy, the blessings would be shockingly bountiful. The former idolatrous “abominations” would be removed from the land. Moreover, the people would all experience a change in their spiritual lives that could only be accomplished by regeneration. “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
While the New Testament church has tasted of this heavenly life, we still have more sin in our lives then we dare to admit. Yet our hope is for an even greater experience of God’s grace. As we read in 2 Peter 3:13, “According to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
It is this fuller existence of holy joy that Ezekiel wrote about so long ago. It would not come to pass immediately. Many faithful Jews would never again see the temple in Jerusalem, but they would be kept by the Lord in gatherings of worship all over the world. At just the right time, men like the Apostle Paul would enter synagogues in places like Ephesus and Corinth with the good news that Jesus had died for sinners and had now risen from the dead. God’s scattered elect would be brought home, but not merely to a reconstituted temple in Jerusalem. They would find Jesus Christ, in whom those who had been made alive by the Holy Spirit would live forever as the beloved children of God.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious Lord, You have appointed leaders among Your people, yet many do not obey You. Forgive us, O Lord. Grant to us a heavenly-mindedness that would be true to Your Word. What shall we do when those who are charged with bringing Your Word to Your people give their own message and turn away from You? Do not make a full end of Your church. Assemble us together again as Your covenant people. Fill us with Your Spirit. We will be Your people, and You will be our God. Speak to us words of truth that we may live.