Disaster Is Near
1The Lord God said:
2Ezekiel, son of man, tell the people of Israel that I am saying:
Israel will soon come to an end! Your whole country is about to be destroyed 3as punishment for your disgusting sins. I, the Lord, am so angry 4that I will show no pity. I will punish you for the evil you've done, and you will know that I am the Lord.
5There's never been anything like the coming disaster. 6And when it comes, your life will be over. 7You people of Israel are doomed! Soon there will be panic on the mountaintops instead of celebration. 8I will let loose my anger and punish you for the evil things you've done. You'll get what you deserve. 9Your sins are so terrible, that you'll get no mercy from me. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have punished you.
10Disaster is near! Injustice and arrogance are everywhere, 11and violent criminals run free. None of you will survive the disaster, and everything you own and value will be shattered. 12The time is coming when everyone will be ruined. Buying and selling will stop, 13and people who sell property will never get it back, because all of you must be punished for your sins. And I won't change my mind!
14A signal has been blown on the trumpet, and weapons are prepared for battle. But no one goes to war, because in my anger I will strike down everyone in Israel.
Israel Is Surrounded
The Lord said to the people of Israel:
15War, disease, and starvation are everywhere! People who live in the countryside will be killed in battle, and those who live in towns will die from starvation or deadly diseases. 16Anyone who survives will escape into the hills, like doves who leave the valleys to find safety.
All of you will moan because of your sins. 17Your hands will tremble, and your knees go limp. 18You will put on sackcloth to show your sorrow, but terror will overpower you. Shame will be written all over your faces, and you will shave your heads in despair. 19Your silver and gold will be thrown into the streets like garbage, because those are the two things that led you into sin, and now they cannot save you from my anger. They are not even worth enough to buy food. 20You took great pride in using your beautiful jewelry to make disgusting idols of foreign gods. So I will make your jewelry worthless.
21Wicked foreigners will rob and disgrace you. 22They will break into my temple and leave it unfit as a place to worship me, but I will look away and let it happen.
23Your whole country is in confusion! Murder and violence are everywhere in Israel, 24so I will tell the most wicked nations to come and take over your homes. They will put an end to the pride you have in your strong army, and they will make your places of worship unfit to use. 25You will be terrified and will desperately look for peace—but there will be no peace. 26One tragedy will follow another, and you'll hear only bad news. People will beg prophets to give them a message from me. Priests will stop teaching my Law, and wise leaders won't be able to give advice. 27Even your king and his officials will lose hope and cry in despair. Your hands will tremble with fear.
I will punish you for your sins and treat you the same way you have treated others. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
God is very patient in putting up with our sins. Often he does not allow the consequences of our sins to come upon us immediately after we have done something wrong (2 Peter 3:9-10). Yet that delay does not mean that a reckoning will not come. Even though the Lord is patient, there comes a point when God has had enough of the wrongdoings of his people. He can no longer hold off and delay the punishment. Yet before God acts he announces beforehand that the time is about to come. That is what Ezekiel is doing here. The reason that God declares that the appointed time of judgment has come is to give the people one last chance to repent. That is not made explicit in this chapter, but it is made clear elsewhere (for example, Jeremiah 18:7-8). If the people repent, the thorough and devastating judgment will be prevented.
This pronouncement must not be read as simply divine anger. But one must sense the frustration on the part of God that the people have committed horrendous actions in rebellion against him – murder (v 23), violence (vv 11, 23), pride (vv 20, 24), and idol worship (v 20). Such disgusting sins deeply hurt and offend God. Yet the demands of justice and of the covenant relationship mean that the people must be held accountable.
Ezekiel repeats that God is repaying them for their conduct (vv 3, 4, 8, 27). Sin has consequences. Those who sin end up bearing the consequences of what they have done, unless they turn to God in genuine repentance and acceptance of him.
Lord, I recognize that you are a holy God. Because of your holiness, I know that my sin disgusts you. Father, forgive me for the wrongs that I have done, and in your mercy, through the shed blood of Jesus, cleanse me from my sins. Amen.