In approximately 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. The prophet Ezekiel was appointed by God to warn the people. He prophesied the destruction five years before it happened, and then after it was over, he spent fifteen years encouraging the remnant of people that were taken to Babylon.
To begin with, the people of Israel were rebellious, idol worshipers, that loved money. Even though they were given many opportunities, they refused to listen and obey God’s commands. They wanted to live like everyone else was.
In Ezekiel 5:9 God declares that the punishment on Jerusalem would be the most severe He would punish anyone before or ever again.
Ezekiel 5:12 tells what God would do and then did. “A third of your people will die in the city from famine and disease. A third of them will be slaughtered by the enemy outside the city walls. And I will scatter a third to the winds and chase them with my sword.” And in Ezekiel 6:5 we read, “Wherever you live there will be desolation.” It is clear that it was God that planned and allowed the destruction. In the book of Ezekiel, God says 60 times that the destruction came so that the people would know that God is the Lord. And He says 15 times he acted for the sake of His name and to keep it from being profaned.
- Throughout the book of Ezekiel God describes his people as rebels. (Ezekiel 3:27) Rebel is defined as one who refuses to obey an authority. The people refused to obey God. We must not be rebels, but obey God.
- The people were destroyed because of their detestable idols. (Ezekiel 5:7-10) Idol is defined as an image or symbol of a deity made as an object of worship. The object of excessive attachment, admiration, or infatuation. One who is idolatrous is blindly or excessively devoted. The people were excessively devoted to other things, their idols. God must be the center of our devotion.
- In Ezekiel 11:12 we are told that the people refused to obey God and wanted to copy the sins of the nations around them. God calls his people to be holy. Holy means to be separated, different. In Ezekiel’s day and today, we are not to be like the world. We must not conform to the standards of the world but be transformed. (Romans 12:2)
- In Ezekiel 7:19 we are told that their love of money made them stumble into sin. Rich or poor, we can become excessively devoted to money and it becomes our idol. We must not idolize money.
- In Ezekiel 12:2 we are told, “Son of man, you live among rebels who could see the truth if they wanted to, but they don’t want to. They could hear me if they would listen, but they won’t listen because they are rebellious.” Just like in the days of Ezekiel, ALL have the opportunity to see and hear the truth of God. Any who seek God with all of their heart will find Him. We must listen to God.
The generation of people that Ezekiel was speaking with were not the first ones to be idol loving rebels. In Ezekiel 20 he talks about past generations; those that Moses and Joshua led.
- God said, “Make them realize how loathsome the actions of their ancestors really were. God told their ancestors, Each of you, get rid of your idols…. But they rebelled against me and would not listen. They did not get rid of their idols or forsake the gods of Egypt." (Ezekiel 20:4,7) Since 1445 B.C. men have rebelled against God and turned to idols. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Throughout the Bible we can see that there were always consequences to idol worship. God hates our idols. We must repent to stop God’s judgment.
- But the people of Israel rebelled against me, and they refused to obey my laws there in the wilderness. They wouldn’t obey my instructions even though obedience would have given them life. (Ezekiel 20:13) Of the millions of people in the wilderness, only Joshua and Caleb served God wholeheartedly. They were the ones that received what God had promised. (Numbers 32:11-12) We can be like Caleb and Joshua and receive the promise of life.
- Then I warned their children and told them not to follow in their parents’ footsteps, defiling themselves with their idols. (Ezekiel 20:18) ... I gave them over to worthless customs and laws that would not lead to life. I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I have given them, and I allowed them to give their firstborn children as offerings to their gods—so I might devastate them and show them that I alone am the Lord. (Ezekiel 20:26) God lets us sin, poison ourselves, and destroy our children. The yuck in the world is a result of our rebellion. (Proverbs 19:3) Let’s quit blaming God for the problems, take responsibility, and turn to Him.
- As for you, O people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: If you insist go right ahead and worship your idols, but then don’t turn around and bring gifts to me. Such desecration of my holy name must stop! (Ezekiel 20:39) God wants us to be either whole-heartedly for Him or against Him. He hates lukewarmness. (Revelation 3:16) We must not be phonies about our devotion.
For nine hundred years God had warned the people to repent. During that time there were brief periods of devotion to God, but rebellion and idol worship kept returning.
God wants our devotion to be whole-heartedly directed to Him. If anything in our lives receives more of our admiration, attachment, or infatuation than God, we are sinning. It is so easy to get off track and get consumed with our things instead of God. When that happens, we must repent, and get our hearts set on Jesus Christ. May we all say, “Remember O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with whole-hearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” (Isaiah 38:3)