Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Israel's Captivity (Ezekiel 5): Pestilence, Famine, and War

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Thus says the Lord God: ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.’
          Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you’— therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.

          ‘Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.

          ‘Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them. Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by. ~ Ezekiel 5:5-14, New King James

          As we continue on in this study over Ezekiel, we will see certain things coming back into play. One of which concerns End-Time prophecy, Eschatology, for those of us who understand it a bit more. But God has a right to punish those who have done wrong. He first chastised His people, Adam and Eve, for their initial sin, which was disobeying Him and His voice as it concerns eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). 

          Every act of disobedience we commit in life we can't lay the blame at the feet of these two. Every single one of us will have to answer solely for the sins they commit. In the case of Israel groaning against Moses, having served idols, and going her way as the nations surrounding her, God has a right to discipline--it's what I  mean by chastise. 

          We're told, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son. Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you do not experience discipline like everyone else, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live?" (Hebrews 12:4-9, Berean Study).

          God has every right to deal with us as He chooses. While God desires us all to come to salvation, having His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, not all will be His. Some people will be used as agents of wrath and destruction, to test and purify what God has instilled in our hearts. But, and I say this in order you see it too, some of these people aren't meant to be a part of God's kingdom either.

          Case in point: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:13-23, New American Standard, bold mine).

          The main reason God was doing what He was in Israel during Ezekiel's day was because the people, overall, listened to those in authority rather than those who were truly serving God. They allowed their hearts, their ears, to so be dulled they couldn't hear or even listen to what God was saying. Quite honestly, it's happening still, even now. We are allowing certain people within the walls of our churches, leading us astray with foreign doctrines, disallowing the Spirit of God from working. As it is written, "Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, Holman Christian Standard).

          So that we, as God's children aren't swept away in this oncoming flood of plague, famine and war that's about to come upon us we ought to hold dear and clear to God and His voice. It will happen. Christ said it would. We need to "WATCH OUT!" as Christ has said. If you don't catch it, you will miss it, for He tells us plainly within the text of Matthew 7. Will not the briar and bramble, the thorn and the hard ground not be so razed that it is all upturned and consumed within the oncoming fire of God's wrath? And in that day who could ever stand?

          I hold very dear to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do my best to teach it in every article. I fall short daily, I admit to it. But I also allow His rebuke on me to show me back into what I need and ought to do. I put myself in a position, with God, to stand up for you. We all sin. I am no exception. I know who I am in God. I am His voice in this day and age, to a degree. I would much rather God use me as He sees fit so that those who read the words He gives me can work out their own salvation. Being saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for forgiveness and remission of sins, means He's LORD of my life. Matthew's gospel, when you truly read it and start applying it to your life means He's Lord; Jesus Christ, being God's Son, is Lord.

          If we listen to what Jesus Christ says we can and will see He is more than just doing what He sees the Father doing (see John 5:19), but we see He has final authority, which proves His lordship over the Church of which He said to Simon Peter: "Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:17-19, Holman Christian Standard, bold mine). 

          How can Jesus make such a claim if He is not the Son of God? As the Centurion says much later, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54, Berean Study). Should we all not approach God, the Father, with that same healthy fear and faith? If we did I honestly believe God would forgive us, heal our land fully, and come that much sooner. But He is God and only He knows when He will come back for us. I pray these words have helped you to understand God has a right to each one of us. I also pray you see He doesn't like chastising us, but He does so out of love; desiring us to remain in and with Him.

          Father, I admit I don't always obey and do that which You desire of me. Forgive me for not obeying and hearing Your voice. I believe I am always willing to pay attention and to do that which I see You at work doing. I want people to know You. I want them to fall in love with You as I have. I do what I do not just out of obedience, devotion, faith, and duty. I do what I do because of what You first did on my behalf. You gave up Your Son. You didn't have to. You wanted to restore me and countless others so we would not go to Hell. You provide a sure path in which we can have life. But it means coming home to You as the Prodigal Son came home to his father. You want to give us the best things, but we have to be willing to see just how far away we've gone from You. How can we understand You and Your love if we don't see our need for You. Help me and others to see You a bit more clearly. Help us to grow and do Your will in and through our lives for others. I pray this in Jesus' name. 

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