August 21, 2021
"For here is what Adonai Elohim says: ‘Even if I inflict My four dreadful judgments on Jerusalem – sword, famine, wild animals and plagues..."
“For here is what Adonai Elohim says: ‘Even if I inflict My four dreadful judgments on Jerusalem – sword, famine, wild animals and plagues – to eliminate both its humans and animals; there will be still left a remnant in it to be brought out, including both sons and daughters. When they come out to you, and you see their way of life and how they act, then you will be consoled over the calamity I have brought upon Jerusalem, over everything I have done to it. Yes, they will console you when you see their way of life and how they act; and you will understand that it was not without good reason that I did what I did in Jerusalem.’ Says Adonai Elohim.” Ezekiel 14:21-23
Once again, Ezekiel receives a visit from some of the exiled elders in Babylon. We might assume that these elders would be in better shape than their counterparts in war-torn Jerusalem, but that would be a false assumption. They, too, worshipped their idols, even though it was in secret, “in their hearts.” No doubt, living in Babylon brought its own sources of temptation to idolatry. One thing is sure: Idolatry cannot be hidden from God. He sees into our hearts and reads us like the proverbial “open book.”
Idolatry is a covenant violation, and as such, it is cursed. Idolaters are guilty of separating themselves from God, the opposite of what it meant to be “covenanted.” Since the idolaters had cut themselves off from God (all the while attempting to have the “best of both worlds” by hiding their idolatry), God cut his covenant with them. He literally released them from the covenant to fend for themselves, now with God’s face against them.
What if a true prophet is enticed into accepting a bribe, which the idolater offers? He, too, is cut off. The lure of money could entice even true prophets. Many Christian workers’ usefulness has been curtailed by the love of the “idol’s bribe.” No wonder Paul addressed Timothy:
“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
God purifies believers so that His true people might emerge bearing the covenant relationship of fellowship with Him: “They will be My people, and I will be their God.” Undoubtedly, this whole process must have deeply hurt Ezekiel personally because God concludes today’s chapter with a Word of encouragement - there will be a Remnant!
Even if Ezekiel’s listeners were initially skeptical as to the fairness of God’s actions toward Judah, when the second wave of exiles came among them, they would see, by the prevailing ungodliness of these people, that God’s punishments had been right. They would be consoled regarding the disaster, and they would testify to the rightness of God’s actions. Will the same be said of us whenever God is finished “sifting” America? More importantly, will Americans say that the Lord was right in allowing our country to suffer to expose our idolatry?