28 June 2011

"I will judge you according to your ways, I will punish you for all your abominations." (v. 3b)


This prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem is hard to read - they are especially hard words to hear from a prophet of the Lord. As Christians we may feel tempted at times to ignore these passages and simply write them off by saying they contradict the love of God that we see in Jesus.

Yet perhaps we want to write them off because we feel uncomfortable with the direct challenge ourselves. Maybe we like to think there has been progress and that our ways are better, and our lives free from abominations.

Yet we don't need to look very far to build a catalogue of failures in our modern society: failures of justice, of mercy, of love, of peace, of humility, of faith.

If we are willing to face the reality of life today in a world where millions are starving, where we ignore violence and injustice in some places while going to war in others then how do we believe God looks at us today?

As Christians the only difference between us and the people of Ezekiel's time is that we believe that when God looks at us it is in the light of Jesus. Our failures to live by the teaching and example revealed in Jesus are transformed by the cross. Our hope for reconciliation with God rests not on us being different, or perfect but instead on God's saving love lived and proved by Jesus on the cross.

As we read this passage can we see that we are no different from the people of Israel at the time of Ezekiel? Can we see that we deserve nothing better than God's judgement for our complicity for the ways and abominations of our time? If our only hope is that we are better, then we have no hope.

Instead our hope cannot be that we have succeeded in being perfect, but instead that in Jesus God has acted to rescue us.

To Ponder

How do you feel about the impact of God's judgement on the ordinary people in Ezekiel's time?

For which of our ways might Ezekiel see God's judgement on us today?

How do you feel about the future? Where do you place your hope?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dave Warnock

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