Learning from Ezekiel 11-19
11:1-12:16 - God speaks to us about our sin - ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people’ - and His salvation - ‘I will... put a new spirit in them...’ (12:2; 11:19-20). We must receive’ with humility, the bad news concerning our sin - ‘The wages of sin is death’ - before we can receive, with gladness, the Good News concerning God’s salvation - ‘The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). God wants each of us to be saved: ‘The Lord... does not want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to turn away from their sins’ (2 Peter 3:9). To those who refuse to be saved, dismissing the bad news concerning their sin and closing their hearts to the Good News concerning God’s salvation, God speaks His Word or warning: ‘...I will punish them for what they have done’ (11:21).
12:17-13:23 - ‘Hear the Word of the Lord!’ (13:2). God’s Word warns us: ‘The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths’. When we see this happening, we must commit ourselves to the Lord, living as His faithful servants: ‘As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:3-5). When people are looking for a ‘feel good’ type of message, a message with plenty of entertainment and no real challenge, we must remember this: God’s Word is to be used for ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
14:1-15:8 - ‘Some of the elders of Israel came to’ Ezekiel. He spoke the Word of the Lord to them: ‘Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’ (14:1,8). This may not have been what they wanted to hear. It was what God wanted them to hear. They did not want to hear this, but they needed to hear it. God was warning them what would happen if they did not make a real return to Him: ‘I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful’ (15:8). God’s Word demands a response. What will our response be? Will we say, ‘We don’t want the Lord “to reign over us”’ (Luke 19:14)? Will we be, like Peter, who ‘took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him...’ (Matthew 16:22)? Don’t be like those who dismiss God’s Word with arrogant pride. Listen to His Word, and let Him change you.
16:1-34 - Without Christ, we are naked and dirty. He covers our nakedness and washes away our dirtiness (8-9). He is our Saviour. We must come to Him with this prayer: ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, I die’ (Church Hymnary, 83). God hears and answers this prayer. He has given us His promise: ‘Whoever comes to Me, I will never drive away’ (John 6:37). When God has heard and answered our prayer for salvation, we have this joyful testimony: ‘I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10). We rejoice in this: ‘He saved us by washing away our sins’ (Titus 3:5).
16:35-63 - God calls His unfaithful people to listen to His Word: ‘You prostitute, hear the Word of the Lord!’ (35). He speaks to them of ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8). He shows them their sin - ‘your filthiness and your nakedness’ (36). He speaks to them as the righteous God, the God of perfect holiness - ‘Your eyes are too holy to look at evil. You cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong’ (Habakkuk 1:13). He warns them that there will be judgment: ‘I will judge you” (38). Why does God speak to us of sin, righteousness and judgment? This is His way of bringing us to repentance - ‘I will make you stop being a prostitute’ - and salvation - “My anger will be over, and I will be calm’ (41-42). Our sin is great, but our Saviour is greater - ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin... Praise His Name!’.
17:1-24 - To those who adopt a ‘rebellious’ attitude to Him, God speaks His Word of warning. They shall ‘not escape’ His judgment (12,18). To those who abandon this attitude of rebellion, there is a way of salvation. In verses 22 to 24, we have a prophecy which looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This prophecy ends with God’s promise: ‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it’. God has fulfilled His promise. He has sent His Son to be our Saviour (Matthew1:22-23). We now await the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘I will come again’; ‘This same Jesus... will come back’; ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven’. He says, “I am coming soon’. We say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonoians 4:16; Revelation 22:20).
18:1-32 - ‘The soul that sins shall die’ (4). ‘If a man is righteous... he shall surely live’ (5-9) What hope is there for us? If we look with honesty into our own hearts, we discover this dark truth concerning ourselves: ‘None is righteous... All have sinned’ (Romans 3:10,23). Is there any Good News for us? Is there a way that leads to eternal life? ‘Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest...’ (4). Is there such a man? Is there a man concerning whom God says, ‘That man is righteous; he will surely live’ (9). Yes! There is! Who is this man? What does the Word of God tell us about him? He is Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He ‘died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). We put our faith in Him. He gives us ‘eternal life’. We ‘pass from death to life’ (1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24).
19:1-14 - There is real sadness here. It is the sadness of God - as He looks upon the sinfulness of His people. If we truly love the Lord, we will have great sadness when we see people turning away from the Lord and ruining their lives. We have joy in the Lord - ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Philippians 4:4). There is also ‘great sorrow’ in our hearts when we think of those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation. This ‘sorrow’ leads us to pray: ‘My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved’ (1,14; Romans 9:2; 10:1). Let us pray for our ‘dry and thirsty land’. Pray that God will come to our ‘wilderness’: ‘He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth’. Pray that people will ‘return to the Lord’. Pray that they will ‘press on to know the Lord’ (13; Hosea 6:1-3).