WHAT DID THEY DO?

The boys sat on the floor ramming the metal cars into each other over and over. Suddenly, a voice cried out from the other room, "Both of you get in here right now!" Bewildered, they looked at one another and asked in turn," ‘ What did you do?’…‘No! what did YOU do?!’”

In chapters 5-9 of the book of Ezekiel that is the question before us: What did they do? Why was God so angry with them that we read in horror words like, “Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come…” (7:10). Or words like this, “…fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers” (5:10). Or even more severely that God would, “... execute judgements on [them]" to the extent that His "eye will not spare…will have no pity”—warning them through His prophet Ezekiel that "a third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword... and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them." (5:10,12) What did they do?

They had defiled God's sanctuary with "detestable things" and "abominations" (5:11). They had hearts and eyes that "whor[ed] after their idols." Their crime was idolatry and it had so grieved God that He spoke of Himself as one "broken" [6:9, ESV] or "crushed" [6: 9, NET] by their idolatry. And in His anger and grief He committed to bringing severe judgment against His people for their idolatry.

I think at least 4 brief lessons emerge as we consider this passage:
  • Judgment because of sin and rejection of the Creator is not merely an OT phenomena. We must be careful not to think that this kind of display of Gods' wrath is relegated to a different era or time never to be seen again because He is, as many insist, a "God of love" or a "forgiving God". These are true statements, but we must avail ourselves of the full counsel of God's word and read alongside gospel passages, passages like 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 :
 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed…
  • Our idolatry still grieves God. Ours is an age not necessarily of silver and gold on pedestals on a mountaintop somewhere, but rather one of personal "truths" where the wisdom of God is easily discarded if it does not fit in with "my truth"! Samuel's words to Saul are instructive for us in this regard: “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” (1 Sam 15:23)
  • We must strive to have a biblical and balanced view of the God we love and serve. He is a God of grace, but also a God of justice and judgment. God cannot simply overlook idolatry. He is the creator of all things. He is by far the most valuable, precious, amazing, wonderful, and holy being in all the universe. No idol or created thing in all the universe compares to Him. Idolatry is not a light thing.
  • Lastly, if judgment is indeed coming again to this world, our responsibly is to boldly and lovingly share Jesus with as many as we can.

by Craig Lester, Pastor of Worship and Music

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