The Lord God was determined to bring judgment upon Jerusalem. He revealed through Ezekiel that He was “broken” by the unfaithfulness of His own people. They imagined that they could worship idols and multiply places of sacrifice and incense altars without any consequences in their lives. They would soon discover how wrong they were. “Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste.” What of all their efforts to gain prosperity despite their unwillingness to listen to the Almighty? Their “works” would be “wiped out.”
The God of the Jews would “leave some of you alive” for His own purposes. Chief among His gracious goals would be that His people would again “know that I am the Lord.” This statement of God’s supremacy over all His creatures is a very basic affirmation of religious truth. How could His people have become ignorant of this central doctrine? Yet mankind has had this fatal weakness since sin entered into the world, that we delude ourselves into imagining that it will be permissible for us to be lords over our own lives.
Israel and Judah’s stubborn rejection of the lordship of Jehovah led to significant trials for God’s chosen people. “They shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.” What would become of the Promised Land? God would stretch out His hand against His children, and the very territory that He had given to them so many centuries before would become “desolate and waste.” Why would He do all this? “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
This strong medicine was necessary in order for Jehovah’s gracious purposes to be accomplished. The disease of rebellion was spreading among them and God needed to administer a very painful remedy. Love insisted on this divine severity so that God’s own people would acknowledge that He was the one and only Leader over all. If Jehovah insisted that He be known by His Old Covenant people as the only living God, how can the church of Jesus Christ be allowed to thrive while ignoring His commandments?
Many in our day claim to follow the Savior but reject their need to participate in a church. He calls us to gather together for worship with others who call upon His Name. Why would we believe that we don’t need to obey this command? Hebrews 10:24-25 insists on this with very plain words, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” How could it possibly be permissible for us to claim that Jesus is Lord and yet excuse ourselves from the covenant gatherings of the faithful?
Of all those on the face of the earth, we who believe that Jesus died for our sins should be the very first to obey Him as Lord. Will we continue to be safe and prosperous if we pretend that we are free violate His precepts?
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, You will not tolerate false worship in Your sanctuary. Loosen the grip of our sinful minds on idolatrous thoughts and affections. Help us to feel the wretchedness of spiritual adultery. Shall more people die because we are unwilling to devote ourselves truly to You? Our blood cannot make atonement for our sins. Your Son’s sacrifice is more than sufficient for our greatest assurance of Your steadfast love. We turn to You now as our Savior and our Lord.