Friday, March 24
In Ezekiel 20 God reviews Israel’s history. Over and over God provided for His people, over and over He warned them to get rid of their idols, keep His commands and observe His Sabbaths. Over and over Israel failed to obey God and experienced the consequences. Over and over God was compassionate and loving and forgave His people and restored them to blessings.
Israel has repeated this history again. They failed to get rid of idols, they failed to keep his commands and observe his Sabbaths, and now they were about to experience the consequences of their sins. God would once again treat them with mercy, not as their sins deserved and restore them to their land.
Ezekiel juxtaposes God’s promise to be merciful and restore His people with the threat that His judgment is coming and that both the evil and the good will be cut off from the land and the city and the temple. Yes, everyone will suffer the consequences of the evil behavior of some.
There is tension throughout Ezekiel. The wicked will suffer for their sins and the righteous will not suffer, except that at first they will suffer for the sins of others. Sometimes when God brings his judgment designed to bring people to repentance there is collateral damage. Good people suffer when bad people sin. It’s how it was then, it’s still how it is today. God’s salvation is coming, earth will one day be restored and made whole and good, but in the meantime, good people will suffer alongside the wicked. Christians are martyred in places like Pakistan and Syria. Christians sometimes suffer persecution in the United States. Trials may come to God’s people during times of judgment, but those who trust God and repent of their sins will be saved.
(photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/verse/Ezekiel_20:17)