God is always precise in His actions. He didn’t decide willy nilly to punish. He knew exactly who, how many, and how He was judging. Ezekiel had to shave all his hair, not just trim it. That meant that the judgment was a purging not just a refining. No one in Jerusalem would escape God’s judgment but a few would be kept there.
Then Ezekiel was told to give the captives God’s prophecy. The prophecy begins with the reasons the Lord was going to do this. Verses 5-6 read,
“Thus says the Lord God: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 6 And she has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my rules and have not walked in my statutes.”
God had given Israel this country. He had given her His Law and His covenant, yet they rebelled and rejected them. They behaved in a fashion worse than the surrounding nations, who didn’t have the benefit of God’s guidance and Law. They were not the example of His people that they could have been, so God was going to punish them and make them an example to all the nations. Verse 9-12 describe the judgments.
“Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw. My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity. 12 A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.”
God was very angry. And Israel’s punishment was going to be worse than anyone had ever seen before. Why? Because Israel was His people. They were His people and He was their God. Imagine two children are misbehaving badly. They have broken your number one rule. One child is the neighbor and the other is your son. You don’t get nearly as upset with the neighbor as you do with your son. And when you punish them, it is to send the neighbor home but your child receives the brunt of your discipline and anger. In your love for him, your emotions burn brighter than when you dealt with someone else’s child. His behavior reflects on you. You want the best for him, so you punishment for your own child will be more harsh. That is how it is for God and His children. He loves us enough to discipline us.
There are some offenses that can’t be corrected with a time-out and a talk. Sometimes an act needs something harsher, something that says the transgression weighs heavier than another. Sometimes we find the time-outs are just not working. It is in those cases that discipline requires more than a reprimand. Israel had done abominations against God. They had behaved worse than even the heathen nations. God was finished with the warnings and the lectures. He had to punish them.
We will be an example to the world. Whether we are a reflection of Jesus or an illustration of disobedience, our lives are a testimony. If we are obedient then discipline need not be difficult. But if we are rebellious and stubborn then God will care enough to do what He must. If we refuse to let His discipline train us, then God will use it to teach others.