Chapter 22:1-12 (ESV) - And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations. You shall say, Thus says the Lord God: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.
“Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.
Question to consider: Why would those near and far mock Israel?
Although I have read through Ezekiel a few times in the past, I may have skimmed over a lot of it since it seems so very repetitive. Our eyes tend to gloss over texts that don’t have direct meaning to us in our modern-day experience. However, there are a number of things that have occurred to me over the course of this study. The first is that these warnings were not just repeated by Ezekiel but by Jeremiah, by Isaiah, and by many of the other minor prophets like: Nahum, Amos, Joel, and Habakkuk. No matter how dramatically or emotionally the warnings were given, they were ignored. The second is that all of the accusations God brought against Israel can be said of our entire world today.
If Jonah had been alive at this time, he would have had to pronounce, “40 days more and Jerusalem will be overturned,” but unlike Nineveh, Jerusalem refused to repent in sackcloth and ashes. Unlike Nineveh, Jerusalem would have probably put Jonah to death. In fact, Nineveh’s demise a couple of generations later could probably be attributed to the fact that Israel lifted up the Assyrian gods above their own. Nineveh feared God at the time of Jonah, for God delivered Jonah from the great fish and was a sign to them. The generations who saw Israel bow down to Dagon would have made that fear seem foolish.
In shedding the blood of its own children and prophets, in defiling one another in sexual immorality, and in extorting money from the most vulnerable of citizens, Israel mocked their God, and they would soon become a mockery to the rest of the nations. For what other nation would cause their own gods to turn against them like this?
A passage like this should alarm us because we can look around and see the same kind of extortion, sexual immorality and bloodshed today, regardless of your country of origin. The name of Jesus is known throughout the world, and you would be hard pressed to find a place that hasn’t been exposed to the word of God, and yet there is no fear of Christ. Christians feel comfortable in talking about the love of Christ, but very few mention that His return will be one of judgment. I understand that when someone has been beaten down by the world, it can be a healing balm to share with them the love of Christ. However, too many people have come to look at Christ as an object of ridicule and curse because they have mistaken His love and patience for weakness and inaction. To those, I encourage you to take heed of Ezekiel’s warnings and of the destruction that followed them.
Dear heavenly father, help us to see that sometimes the most loving thing we can do for people is to tell them a truth they do not wish to hear. Please give us ears that are willing to receive Your word and a heart to warn others to do the same. Amen.