Ezekiel 32-33

Time to Listen

As we finish the book of Jeremiah today the fall of Jerusalem is repeated in the last chapter. While Jerusalem was under siege Ezekiel has been prophesying about the neighboring nations surrounding Judah. Some are rejoicing at the siege and fall while others are concerned about their economy. Egypt said they would march out to help Judah but did not follow through. These are the ways of the world but God make it clear that these nations will be accountable for their actions.

In Ezekiel 32 God makes it clear that the powerful leaders of the world are really just shooting stars. They rise to power for a time but no matter how much of the world they conquer they only hold that power for a short time. These powerful people have one thing in common, they die and end up in Hades or Sheol where they await the judgment of God.

In Chapter 33, the fall of Jerusalem is close at hand, God is preparing Ezekiel to minister to the exiles that are going to have to live without the hope of returning to the homeland as they knew it.

Back in Chapter 3 Ezekiel was to act out the siege of Jerusalem in front of  the people. God told Ezekiel not to speak but to get the people’s attention by doing the things God tells him to do. The people were rebellious and were not willing to listen to the prophesies because their hearts were hard. However, as Ezekiel acts out these messages from God, the people would ask him what he was doing and why. This would engage them and then God would give Ezekiel the words to say.

Jesus did the same thing. He would tell a parable or story that would engage the people and then, when they were willing to listen, He would proclaim God’s plan regarding sin, salvation, His death, and resurrection.. After Jesus died, rose and ascended to heaven fulfilling His Word, the time for parables ended and the Apostles were to declare the Gospel. The same will be true for Ezekiel.

When Jerusalem falls, the prophesy of the siege that Ezekiel acted out will be fulfilled. The hope of the people based on the false prophets will be dashed while Ezekiel’s words and actions will be proven true. Ezekiel’s role of actor will be changed to a watchman. Now he is to declare the Word that God gives him to the people and not hold back. As always in ministry where God gives authority there is responsibility and accountability. If God gives a warning and Ezekiel does not warn the people then Ezekiel will be accountable for their sin. If He does warn them but they refuse to change they will be accountable for their decision and sin.

God then gave Ezekiel instructions regarding a righteous man doing righteous things but then he changes and does wickedness. God says the man’s righteous acts will be forgotten and he will be counted with the wicked.  If you are wondering how this could be, the answer is simple. The righteous man is trusting in his righteousness. He has put his faith in his righteous acts out weighing his wicked acts. His faith is misplaced. He is trusting in works, not in God.

Now, if a wicked man turns from his wicked way when he learns of the condemnation of the wicked and he starts to do righteous things, his wicked ways will not be held against him. Why is that we would ask? It is because he heard the warning and believed that what God said was true and the acts he did after he heard the warning were a result of him putting his faith in God.

Can you see the difference? If I think I am a pretty good guy because of what I do. I am trusting in my own righteousness. If I think I am saved because I am a pastor and teach the Bible I am in danger of the fires of hell if I think I am saved by what I do. After all I go to church EVERY Sunday! But, if I do what I do because of what God has done for me, then, because I am grateful and desire to obey and serve, I am responding to what God has called me to do. Then my response is a result of my faith in God.

We are saved by faith and faith alone. What we do is just evidence of where we have put our faith.

Jesus illustrated this truth with (what else!) a parable. It is found in Luke 18:9-14

Following this, word comes to Ezekiel and the exiles that Jerusalem has fallen and Ezekiel is given the first warning to the people. He is to tell them that they are not saved by birthright and they are not free to disregard God’s Word now that Jerusalem has fallen. They can no longer claim the Promised Land as a safe refuge. God is removing everything they have put their faith and trust in. Salvation is faith alone in God alone. Righteous acts, birthrights and traditions will not save us. Just because we go to church or our family has always gone to church does not mean we are saved and have a relationship with God. Even if we are leaders in the church and are considered authorities, our work in the church will not save us. Sadly, many people treat church like a social club. Pastors and church leaders cannot save anyone. They are to point people to Jesus. Only He can save. We must be born again, born of God. It is said that God doesn’t have any grandchildren. All are first born.

Have you been born again?

Pastor Dave