Summary: God's bleak message of certain judgment continues as Ezekiel describes the basis for judgement, the certainty of judgment, and the completeness of this judgment. A bleak, doom and gloom text reminds us of the holiness of God.
Ezekiel’s proclamation from the Lord in chapter 7 is one of the strongest prophetic messages ever offered. It is a message of sure and certain judgment that is no longer something that is coming—but something that has arrived. This message is something of a summary of the message of judgment that Ezekiel was proclaiming from the Lord. Throughout this passage God condemns the following sins:
Detestable practices (idolatry and fertility rites associated with them), Materialism, and Pride coupled with arrogance. He also confirms that Judgment has arrived and will be based on their sinful conduct.
VERSES 1-4 The End isn’t Near—The End is Here!
First, God’s message is that the end has come and that it is not a partial judgment, but a complete and total judgment. He refers to the four corners of the land- meaning that this judgment was not simply upon the people of Jerusalem who were under siege, bu5t that it related to all of the people of the land. Not only would Jerusalem not be spared, but no city would be spared.
The NIV uses the phrase (verse 3) “unleash my anger” and I like that phrase because of the visual image it gives me. God has his anger on a leash, like a rampaging pit bull. His anger, a natural response of a holy and righteous God, is held back. There comes a time when that righteous anger is unleashed and woe be unto those it comes against.
God also declares that this will not be a judgment tempered with mercy. There will be no pity. God is going to demonstrate His Lordship with judgment. The cause of this judgment is not simply that God is angry… It is the proper payment (KJV=recompense) for their detestable actions and disgraceful conduct. (KJV=abominations). When God judges sin it is a bold demonstration of His Lordship.
VERSES 5-9 The Party is Over
Ezekiel reminds his listeners that the message comes from God. He declares that God is sending a terrible disaster upon them that is completely unprecedented. It is “unheard-of.” The Hebrew translation of this is “Evil that is one” meaning a singular, unprecedented, and therefore unimaginable event. This is likely a reference to the destruction of the temple, which the Jews did not think could ever happen.
Lately, I’ve seen a television commercial about a service that allows you to receive your home phone’s voice mail from your computer. The scene shows a man and his wife, relaxing before a fire in a cabin-type setting and checking their email. The message is from their neighbor, who indicates that there is a party going home. The man picks up his cell phone and calls his home and tells his son that he and mom are on the way home because of bad weather. The next scene shows the son, with phone in hand, and a look of absolute shock on his face.
This is the message being communicated (only stronger) when God declares that the day is at hand and that instead of joy (party atmosphere associated with idolatrous worship) on the mountains there is panic. God has said in no uncertain terms that the party is over. Once more, God declares in this section, as he did in the first section that there will be no pity or mercy and that his judgment is the proper payment for the sinful conduct of His people.
In the first section, He declares that His judgment will demonstrate His Lordship. In this section, God emphasizes that the people will finally recognize that it is God Himself judging them. It wasn’t just bad circumstances, nor was it an attack of the devil, it was God’s judgment.
At times believers do not recognize God’s chastisement. Instead, we just declare that our tough circumstances are just the way life goes. At other times we suggest that Satan is attacking us. Isn’t it time that we recognize the hand of God sometimes is against us because we have sinned? Isn’t it time that we recognize that some of the tough times we are going through may be God working to get our attention. God used the Babylonian people to judge the nation of Judah—but they blamed the evil Babylonians. God wanted His people to be aware that He was meting out judgment. He was pouring out the grapes of His wrath. When the temple was destroyed He was certain that they could not miss the message!
VERSES 10-13 The Rod
The rod in Scripture is often a symbol of authority as well as an object of discipline. For example, Proverbs tell us that a rod is for the back of a fool as well as discipline for a child. Psalm 2 declares that the Messiah will break the nations with a rod of iron.