August 14, 2021
"But if any of them manage to escape, they will head for the mountains like doves from the valleys, all of them moaning, each for his sin. All hands will droop..."
“But if any of them manage to escape, they will head for the mountains like doves from the valleys, all of them moaning, each for his sin. All hands will droop, all knees turn to water. They will put on sackcloth; horror will cover them; every face will be ashamed, every head shaved bald. They will throw their silver into the streets; and their gold will be like something unclean. On the day of Adonai’s wrath their silver and gold won’t be able to rescue them. These things won’t satisfy their hunger, these things won’t fill their stomachs, because they are what caused them to sin.” Ezekiel 7:16-19
Chapters 6 and 7 have focused principally on the reality and nature of God’s wrath. God is angry with Israel because of their sin, and particularly their idolatry. There can be no truce between God and sin. When He sees lawlessness and Godlessness, He must react with holy anger. It is His very nature to honor holiness and punish sin. Were God to be without anger toward sin, the World would have no meaning.
But all is not doom in these chapters. God had an unavoidable purpose, which nothing can destroy – not even the unfaithfulness of Israel! What emerges from today’s chapter of judgment is a theology of Grace…and we must not lose sight of it.
A remnant will be saved despite their spiritual adultery. So, what explains the fact that God perseveres with the constant, unrelenting grumblers of Moses’ day or the thankless apostate people of the seventh and eighth century BC...or us for that matter? It can only be His promise of Grace! As I often say, two things confound a fool: How slow God is to judge sin and how quickly He shows up. Even up to the siege of Jerusalem, the people simply would not believe God would allow His people to fall.
How could this be so? Because the people had abandoned God’s Word and followed after idols. Sure, the Temple was still standing, and many of the forms of worship seemed to follow the methods prescribed by Moses, but they had abandoned its God. Whenever we depart from God’s Word, even the slightest, Satan gets his foot into the doorway of your theology. To not trust in God is only to trust in Satan. Step away from God’s Word, and even if you follow a God-themed religion, you have departed from the real thing.
We are wrong if we simply see the God of the Tanakh (Old Testament) as a God of judgment. His judgment is swift and decisive, but only after His gracious patience, kindness, and longsuffering. Even when every Israelite and Judean was worthy of destruction, God allowed a remnant to survive for the sake of His name and His merciful promise.
Though these chapters are tough and unrelenting, the message of Grace shines in the remnant. It is a remnant that God, and God alone, rescues. This is, of course, not just the story that Ezekiel tells; it is the gospel itself that threads its way from Genesis to Revelation.