“The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: ‘Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it’ ” (Ezekiel 14:12-13).
For those who always want to hear a positive message from the Word of God, the book of Ezekiel is difficult to read. Much of his message reflects God’s anger and judgment against His own people, Israel. However, for those who seek to really know and understand God, Ezekiel’s message provides valuable insight into the heart of God. The book of Ezekiel helps us to understand the hurt God felt and having His people abandoning their faith in and love for Him. Ezekiel’s ministry is to God’s people who had already been taken captive and are in Babylon shortly before the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 1:1-3). His prophesies help us to understand why God was allowing Jerusalem to be destroyed by another ungodly nation, Babylon.
As the opening verses above indicate, God describes His people as having “persistent unfaithfulness” (Ezekiel 14:12-13). They treated God callously as their hearts hardened towards Him. They would go and worship idols and then come to inquire of the Lord (Ezekiel 14:1-3). As God asks the question, “Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?”, God tells Ezekiel, “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols” ’ ” (Ezekiel 14:3, 4-5). God refused to allow His people to treat Him with such disrespect!
God tells Ezekiel, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” ’ ” (Ezekiel 14:6). While God had run out of patience being disrespected by His own people, God wanted His relationship with them restored, “that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me, nor be profaned anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be My people and I may be their God…” (Ezekiel 14:11).
God’s people had a choice to make: Would they turn back to Him and seek to restore their relationship with Him or would they continue to forsake Him? Sadly, Israel chose the latter. They chose to “persist in their unfaithfulness”. As a result, they would face God’s terrible judgment: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will set My face against them. They will go out from one fire, but another fire shall devour them. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I set My face against them. Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,' says the Lord God’ ” (Ezekiel 15:6-8).
As Christians, we will always struggle with sin (1 John 1:8). We can fall so deeply in sin that we become unfaithful to God and our hearts can become hardened towards Him (Hebrews 3:8, 13). However, we do not have to persist in that unfaithfulness. God calls us to come back to Him (1 John 1:7, 9). Today, I will guard my heart against “persisting in unfaithfulness” towards God!
“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).