In the previous study we saw how the Lord chose to judge wicked leaders of the people in Jerusalem by bringing upon them the very thing that they feared, and that he chose to do it outside of their comfort zone. This also includes a challenge for we believers who trust the Lord.
Now we continue our study of this prophetic vision:
Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?’
The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, the people of Jerusalem have said of your fellow exiles and all the other Israelites, “They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession.”
Therefore say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.”’
You need to see this passage clearly, read it a few times, and then remember all the promises to Israel. Add to that the things you have learned about the father nature of God and how just He is. Finally the penny drops and you begin to see what the message is here.
Actually there are a few messages…
First – the promises of the Lord. These are for the Lord’s people, right? Er…. It seems not. So Wrong! The promises are not for all of the Lord’s people, but only for the Lord’s people who humble themselves and honour the Lord.
The people of Jerusalem were taking the inheritance for granted, simply because they were Israelites. But these same people are the ones doing evil in the sight of the Lord, and welcoming foreign gods and idols into the city. They were saying that the exiles must be the ones not pleasing god, because of the fact that they are exiles and far away from the place of promise. They did not realise that it was they themselves who were far from God, having placed their sins and idolatry between themselves and God. The exiles, on the other hand, felt rejected and despised by God, but recognised they were where they are because of sin and of God’s judgement. By this very fact they were closer to God than those in Jerusalem. By this fact, they were more deserving of the promise.
We have a verse in the New Testament that expresses the situation perfectly.
Romans 2:29 –
“No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”
The true people of God are not such only through hereditary genetics, but by who they are before God. Abraham had to be tested, more than once. So did his son, and even more so his grandson. That is why these three are known as the patriarchs. They proved that they were God’s men – God’s people – by their deeds. It was not only heritage.
So you are not in the kingdom because you go to church. You are not a Christian because you live in a Christian country, or because you attended a church school. You do not belong to the Lord because your parents or grandparents are Christians. In fact none of these things contribute to your salvation at all, and without that salvation you are not adopted into the family – the holy family of God.And if you are not a part of that family, then all the promises of god are not for you – except for 2 that I can think of. First of those is the promise that you will not be the victim of a worldwide flood. The other is that you will be judged. Christians will also be judged – and the judge is Jesus.
You may be the son of the Pastor, and consider that the church is your home – indeed yours. But the Lord can remove you from that and leave you with nothing. Only those who know him deserve that position of authority and responsibility.
And this is the problem with many churches and many pulpits – people have inherited the position, and not earned it through a true relationship with the Lord that changes you and the world around you.
Ezekiel just did not understand and the Lord had to spell it out to him.
The Lord was not destroying the remnant of Israel. He was ridding the land of those who were unworthy because of not only personal sin, but leading others into sin and away from the one true god. Then the true Israelites who honoured the Lord and recognised him for who he is – these are the ones to inherit the land – which they did only one generation later.
Ezekiel was thinking from the point of view of ethnic cleansing, and he understood as well as we do that this is wrong. But the Lord was working from the point of view of a spiritual cleansing. Something quite different.
And before I finish here, I must say something about the attitude of some Christians towards others who are trying to get a better understanding about their faith. Some need to question the Lord and ask why – even to the point of challenging him. The bad attitude of some is to say that those who are questioning are disrespecting god, or doing something bad – and the worst of them say that they are sinners bound for hell because they are doing the works of the devil.
Well, frankly, the devil is given far too much glory and credit. He must laugh with glee most times he hears that someone says something as silly and as crazy as one Christian who is trying to please god accusing another Christian who is trying to please god of doing the works of the devil. Goodness me – stop giving glory to the devil!
Nobody has everything perfectly understood about the bible. And people can come to different conclusions. Deal with it!
The fact is that god is our Father. Fathers expect to hear the question ‘why?’ very often. They also expect to be challenged if their child feels that dad is not acting with the same integrity that he demands from the kids.
It is OK to question god. He can provide an answer! He answered Ezekiel here in this passage of scripture, and did not rebuke him for his outburst. Getting it wrong and speaking to the Lord about it is all part of learning and growth. So allow people to do it. Even allow your sons and daughters to do it. Let them grow in the Lord.