Summary: We see a foreshadowing of Christ's Amazing grace in the book of Ezekiel. When God's people rebelled, and deserved judgment, God recued them from their enemy, redeemed them from their impurity, and restored them with a heart of humility. Amazing Grace!
Introduction: When Billy Graham was driving through a small southern town, he was stopped by a policeman and charged with speeding. Graham admitted his quilt, but was told by the officer that he would have to appear in court.
The judge asked, "Guilty, or not guilty?" When Graham pleaded guilty, the judge replied, "That'll be ten dollars -- a dollar for every mile you went over the limit."
Suddenly the judge recognized the famous minister. "You have violated the law," he said. "The fine must be paid--but I am going to pay it for you." He took a ten dollar bill from his own wallet, attached it to the ticket, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner! "That," said Billy Graham, "is how God treats repentant sinners!" (Progress Magazine 1992)
Billy had broken the law but there was a gracious judge who paid his fine. Israel was in a much similar situation. When they should have been punished, they were blessed by the grace of God.
At this time, in Ezekiel 33-36, Israel had been driven off their land for their sexual immorality, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, and murder. (Eze.33:25,26) Desolation was their punishment. The Land flowing with milk and honey was now in the hands of their enemy. How painful it is to see our blessing go to another. We hear the phrase 'you don't know what you have until it's gone'. That might have been the point for Israel. Israel profaning God's name was a greater blasphemy than if Israel's enemies had done so, because Israel had benefited by Gods promises, been blessed under his protection, and enjoyed his provision. What reason did they have to rebel against such a good God? The nations that hated the Jews were amazed that Israel had turned against their own God. What a sad day when our enemies mock how far we have fallen from God. So to restore his own name God restores his people.
Transition: We see three Amazing Graces in three verses in Ezekiel 36:24-26 We first see that God will rescue his people from their captivity, then He redeems them from their impurity, and finally We see how He restores them with a heart of humility
God Rescues His people from their Captivity
“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” Ezekiel 36:24
You would think the people who have the greatest reason to praise God would be the least likely to complain, but not always. Sometimes, there are those that have so much to be happy for and yet they are the most miserable. They have their health a loving family, prospering business perhaps, and by all accounts have everything that a person can want. Israel must have been seen that way by their enemies, which makes their situation all the more perplexing. Because of their rebellion, God allows their enemies to capture them and scatter them throughout the nations. They were totally corrupt and sinful. They were detestable and as verse 17 puts it they were like a menstruating woman, who according to Jewish law had to be separated from her husband, not allowed to touch anything, including the house of God. Their sin may have been natural, but it wasn't excusable. God's people were unclean and had to be removed from their promised land. They deserved to be captured. They deserved to be punished. They deserved (eternal) death.
So what does God do? God promises to bring them out of captivity and back into prosperity. No bondage? no slavery? No famine? No defeat by our enemies? Nothing but a promise of taking their land back. What did Israel do to deserve such amazing grace? Nothing. If anything, they deserved to be kept captive. So why did God do it? For his name's sake! (v.22) The enemy that doubted God because of his people's wickedness was going to see them be rescued, so everyone would know that God is greater than good, that He is better than merciful, and that He is more than gracious! It's a good thing too. Because without grace our sins would take is where we don't want to go.
Ill. Paul Harvey tells the story of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. "First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. "Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night.