I’m still working my way through Ezekiel. It’s a tough book to get through, even though I know that after all the dire prophecies against Israel and the surrounding nations, Ezekiel eventually tells of the future restoration of Israel. But there certainly are a lot of dire prophecies.
As I was reading the other night I came to this passage describing the sins of Israel that led to God’s prophecy of punishment to come:
Every leader in Israel who lives within your walls is bent on murder. Fathers and mothers are treated with contempt. Foreigners are forced to pay for protection. Orphans and widows are wronged and oppressed among you. You despise my holy things and violate my Sabbath days of rest. People accuse others falsely and send them to their death. You are filled with idol worshipers and people who do obscene things. Men sleep with their fathers’ wives and have intercourse with women who are menstruating. Within your walls live men who commit adultery with their neighbors’ wives, who defile their daughters-in-law, or who rape their own sisters. There are hired murderers, loan racketeers, and extortioners everywhere. They never even think of me and my commands, says the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel 22:6-12 (NLT).
As I read this it occurred to me that mankind hasn’t changed much. The behaviors enumerated in this passage can be found in our news today, or they have become so accepted that they don’t even make the news – unless the person engaging in such behavior is a celebrity. The final verse of this passage gets to the cause of this terrible behavior: it is that many people never even think of God or His commands.
In the New Testament, Paul warns that such behavior will increase “in the last days.”
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NLT).
Thankfully, because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord no longer judges people according to their nation, as He did the Israelites. In the Old Testament accounts, even the few righteous who remained in Israel suffered exile along with the wicked. But now each person is responsible for their own decision of whether they will think of God and His commands, or will instead scoff at Him and go their own way. Each person must decide whether they will become what mankind always becomes without God – boastful, proud, unloving and unforgiving, lovers of pleasure rather than God – or will instead choose to follow Christ and seek the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to guide them.
I choose to follow Christ. How about you?