How often have you been told God doesn’t judge, or God wouldn’t send anyone to Hell? How often do you hear people say the End Times are far off, the Tribulation isn’t our concern, or even that the End of Days is just a fantasy? The people spreading those lies may full-well believe them, but they are dangerous and lead people into an illusory life following an imaginary god all the way to Hell.
The Lord had something to say to those kind of people in Ezekiel’s day and it stands true today as well. When any of us claim to speak God’s words, wisdom, or advice we ought to be very sure we are speaking the truth and not what the people want to hear. We don’t tell our children it is okay to play on the highway just because we do not want to upset them, and we don’t want to tell others that the consequences of sin are anything but death just so they will still like us. It is more important to tell them the truth because God loves them and wants them to know Him and live.
In Jerusalem the leaders were telling people that Jerusalem was safe, beyond God’s reproach, and His judgments were far off in the future and had no effect on them. The Lord had worse judgments in mind for those people. They thought Jerusalem was their protection and taught that people could ignore God’s statutes, words, and warnings. Verses 8-12 record some of the Lord’s response to them.
“You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. 9 And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. 10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 11 This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
When the Lord spoke those words through Ezekiel, one of the men spreading the bad advice died. Ezekiel was really upset and cried out to God, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (Verse 13). But God answered Him with some great encouragement. First the Lord told Ezekiel that some people needed chastisement and would get the punishment they deserved. What kind of loving Father would He be if He let evil go unpunished? The people who had stayed in Jerusalem and received the blessings had acted as if they deserved that goodness and rather than become closer to God they swelled up with pride and left Him. But some of those who had been exiled had taken it seriously and remained loyal to the Lord. God’s promise for them is also a promise for those who earnestly seek Him today and is recorded in verses 17-21.
“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
The people who had not abandoned the Lord were not perfect. They had stubborn natures. They didn’t get it all right. They probably disagreed about a few things. But the Lord promised to give them one heart, a new spirit, and to replace their hearts of stone with living teachable hearts of flesh. It is God who made it possible for them to walk in His law, not the impossible 613 laws but in His will and word to Love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.
He makes it possible for you and me as well. All He needs is our willingness to seek Him and His will above everything else. He gives us the faith, the moldable heart, and the ability to obey. What is God’s will? It is that you call on Jesus to be your savior so that you can know Him, and He can be your God and you can be His child. He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to become like Jesus and because of who you are make Him known to the world who needs Him. He loves you. He loves your neighbor. Let Him be God and see how He will change you, employ you, and love you.
The truth is that judgment is coming. One Day Jesus will return and it will be too late for anyone to make a choice. Now is the time to decide. Now is the day of salvation. Don’t listen to people who tell you Hell isn’t real. Do not tolerate the foolishness that a loving god wouldn’t judge or punish. Today is the day to call on Jesus. When the Day of Judgment arrives it will be too late and it is coming.