Today: [Ezekiel 33] Are You Capable of Change? If you needed to repent, would you be capable of doing it? In this chapter the people continue to resist the word of the Lord through Ezekiel, even after word comes that the city of Jerusalem is destroyed and the temple leveled. They saw these things as current events but made no connection to the personal lives that they might change their ways and sin not. We have to ask ourselves is there any measureable different between us and these hapless people?
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[Eze 33:1-33 KJV] 1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. 7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked [man], thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins [be] upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his [righteousness] in the day that he sinneth. 13 When I shall say to the righteous, [that] he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 [If] the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
In chapter 33 the focus of Ezekiel’s words returns to the people of God. An instruction is given regarding the response of the people during a time of judgment. When we read of a sword being brought on the land we realize this is quite literal for the southern kingdom of Judah, for the Babylonian invasion is underway. For us we understand as well that Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God is a sword, therefore we read the passage and may also apply it as when the Father brings a word over the land by a watchmen such as Ezekiel.
In this instruction Ezekiel is warned that as the blower of a trumpet to sound an alarm, he must sound the alarm, even if it is through an unpopular word, or the blood of the slain will be held to his account because of being an unfaithful watchman. To be utterly clear the Lord (v. 7) states plainly that Ezekiel is the watchmen referred to by the Father. The suggestion then, is that Ezekiel in prophesying, hears many things that he would rather not bring to the people. We see this as well in Jeremiah and in Isaiah. Jeremiah at times, strongly disagreed with what he was hearing from the Father as the demise of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple was foretold. We know also that Jonah was deeply opposed to the word of the Lord that he gave to the city of Ninevah. He knew that the people would repent, and preferred that they would have been destroyed instead.
The message here for us is to know that 1.) God will speak to us; 2.) We won’t always hear what we want to hear. Many times I have seen things whether for myself or for someone else that were not what I would have chosen to know. Just because what you see is not to your liking does not absolve you of the responsibility to give the word. This is not a license to be unkind, coarse, or harsh toward the people. If repentance is needed, then remember that Rom. 2:4 tells us that the goodness of God leads men to repent. In the Old Covenant there was no savior, no redeemer of mankind as we have today. For a person to get up and mime an Old Testament prophet is to forget that Jesus fundamentally reconfigured the prophetic when in Luke 9:56 He declared to his disciples that He came not to destroy, but to save. They had purposed to call down fire on the city of Samaria but He forbade them, telling them they didn’t know what spirit they were of. What is the lesson then, is there no rebuke in the New Covenant? Yes, there is, but when repentance is the order of the day – it is the goodness of God poured out that is intended to bring about the change of heart that spares the hearer from consequences of disobedience. To be clear, there were consequences for disobedience both under the Old and New Testament. The difference is that repentances was commanded under the law with severe punishment leveed for refusal, whereas under the New Covenant the gift of Christ is extended to us as a basis of forgiveness and grace, that we might forsake our old ways and walk in newness of life.
17 Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. 18 When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. 19 But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. 20 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. 21 And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, [that] one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten. 22 Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb. 23 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 24 Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we [are] many; the land is given us for inheritance. 25 Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land? 26 Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour’s wife: and shall ye possess the land? 27 Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; [As] I live, surely they that [are] in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that [is] in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that [be] in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence. 28 For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. 29 Then shall they know that I [am] the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed. 30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou [art] unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
In verse 10 the query of the people was in effect, “if we are yet in our sins – what hope is there for us…” In other words, they saw no escape and felt that nothing but destruction awaited them. The reply of the Father in verse 11 is that He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. The wicked are destroyed not by an act of God but by the resulting consequences of stubborn refusal to do anything but go their own way. Self-righteousness is no refuge from the consequences of sin. This is the first resort of Adam and Eve. “The serpent gave me and I did eat…” Eve maintained. “That woman you gave me ….” Adam asserted. They did this because they felt these things would absolve them of responsibility. It did not. Pointing the finger of accusation, or pleading innocence due to mitigating circumstances is the activity of the carnal mind and fallen nature. Our righteousness is in Christ and to Him we come, without excuse, without accusation (blaming others for our own situation or downfall). We simply fall prostrate before the cross and declare that we need a savior, to which the reply of heaven is He will be our Savior but we must also accept Him as our Lord.
The reply of the people in Ezekiel’s day was that the Father was not being fair. The maintained that God was not dealing with them in an equitable way. The response from heaven was that because they would not be convinced, they would then be recompensed for their own ways, and denied the mercies extended to them. You would think we would never reject the clemency of heaven but this is exactly what the people did – because while they were willing to be forgiven and reprieved, they were not willing to extend that same forgiveness and clemency to others. They insisted that others be judged, while requiring that their sins be overlooked. For this reason, they will experience the consequences of idolatry and sin, because the clemency you would deny your fellow man becomes the metric by which you yourself will be condemned, not by God but by your own unwillingness to show the same mercy to others that you expect to receive from heaven.
All of this took place immediately before a runner comes from Jerusalem to inform the captives at Chebar that Jerusalem is in ruins and the temple is destroyed. The prophet sits astonished, struck dumb by the devastating news of Jerusalem’s destruction. The answer from heaven is a recital of the sins of the nation:
1. They indulged in the practice of drinking blood while staring at the image of their idols.
2. They practiced ritual sexual debauchery with one another as a form of pagan worship.
Because of this the land will now lie waste and be made desolate. In the midst of all of this the people are not mourning in repentance for the sins of their people. Rather they are backbiting Ezekiel for giving the true words of the Lord. They hear the words of the Lord and say amen but have no intention to do anything other than to continue on weeping for Tammuz, worshipping their idols and going their own way. They listen to the sound of Ezekiel’s voice, and the delight in hearing but have no intention of doing anything different. For us we must look into our own hearts and ask ourselves if we are capable of doing otherwise than these foolish people did. Are we capable of the transparency, and humility that works repentance, or will we going on our way, noting that yes a prophet has been in our midst, but at the end of the day we are unchanged.
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