When we consider the more extreme corrective actions of Yahweh we are often repulsed and may actually deny the applicable nature of such judgments. Yet, we live in times of correction, so we had better get a grip on who God actually is and what he is purposing in the Kingdom. If this seems daunting, rest in the fact that it is no secret. God tells us plainly in his Word!
Looking at Ezekiel chapter 14, we find corrupt leaders, corrupt people, and corrupt prophets. Verse 3 says, “these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?” Let us consider the purposes of God because I think to understand passages like this it is best to see the character and purpose of God. Once we understand that, then we can better digest what is happening in Ezekiel 14 and in our own times.
The three main purposes for the judgment or justice of Yahweh are:
- God acts so “the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord God.” (verse 11) This is very important to see so that we do not “walk” away from the text too soon thinking God’s correction no longer exists or does not apply to a post-modern world. God’s purpose is to bring his people back, so they are in right relationship with the King.
- So we know that God is all powerful, sovereign and just. Verse 7 reads, “For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel,who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself.” Verse 8 shows that God deals with idolatry with the finality of “cutting off”. Has God ever cut something out of your life? This is his way of getting our attention and showing us who is in charge of the universe. As God’s people, idolatry cannot and will not stay with us, it will be removed. The shocking removal shows us who Yahweh is! The verse concludes with, “you shall know that I am the LORD.”
- Separation of the righteous from the wicked, and the purification of God’s people. There is a very interesting dynamic in verse 9. “And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word,I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” This makes for tricky interpretation because God deceiving anyone is hard to grasp. According to The Jeremiah Study Bible, the Hebrew verb form should be translated, “I will induce”, meaning God responds in judgment. Dr. Jeremiah states, “the Lord used deception to judge a deceptive prophet”. A difficult principle but found elsewhere, such as I Kings 22:20-22. This whole process involves Yahweh separating and purifying the righteous. Charles Feinberg in his book, “The Prophecy of Ezekiel”, writes, “In the last days of the Judean kingdom false prophecy was allowed to flourish so that the righteous could be distinguished from the wicked in order to purge and purify the nation.” If that does not get your attention, then what will!
We are living in the midst of God’s divine purposes as he sifts and shifts the Kingdom. Don’t run for the exit, just bathe yourself in Yahweh’s purposes and character.