In the final years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, God stood against His people with holy indignation. “I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations.” He spoke to His hardhearted children about “disaster” and “doom,” referring to Himself as “the Lord who strikes.”
Throughout Ezekiel 7 Jehovah revealed the chain of evil that had led to this sad day for the chosen people. It began with sin and pride. Their arrogance and desire for glory was tested by the “stumbling block” of riches. If they had “silver and gold,” would they use these gifts for the glory of the Almighty in kindness to the poor, or would they build idolatrous monuments that displayed their own self-centered rebellion? Sadly, they gave themselves and their money to objects of worship that their own hands had made. False devotion eventually led to exile. When some among them were forced from the holy city of Jerusalem, the Lord’s temple was eventually defiled by invading Gentiles. They lost not only their remaining treasures, but also their own inner peace. They were overcome by “disaster” and “terror.”
This ugly portrait of wickedness and divine censure was not the final stage of God’s work with them. Amazingly, the Lord added a note of veiled hope. Though “according to their judgments I will judge them,” there would also be growth in their understanding of the God who made them. “They shall know that I am the Lord.”
That last phrase could be fulfilled in two very different future outcomes. Those who would be stubborn in their rebellion would know God in His holy severity, but all those who would turn from evil would discover a different path of blessing from above.
God’s testified about His eternal work of grace in Romans 8:29-30. The first link in His plan of biblical hope was forged in eternity past through His own covenant-keeping love. “Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called he also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”
Only through the Lord’s great mercy could any sinner find the rare jewel of Christian contentment. Without the work of Christ there could be no shalom from God, but with the death and resurrection of our Savior, the joy of the Lord has now become our strength.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great King of Heaven, Your wrath against sin is justified and completely righteous. Any trouble that could ever come against us is more than deserved because of our transgressions. All of this righteous punishment came upon Your beloved Son on the cross. He took this great wrath and has worked out the demands of Your holy justice for Your servants. Thank You, O Lord. We will not be ungrateful for such a wonderful love. Take away from us the love of sinning, so that we will worship You from the heart. We long for our complete sanctification, not only for us, but for all Your elect. Today the church continues to sin. Only You can change us, O Lord. We plead the blood of Christ. Please forgive us, O God.