Summary: How do we understand a God who is so very different from us and sometimes appears almost evil?
Do you remember your first love? Do you remember the feelings that you had when you entered into their presence? Perhaps struck dumb? Overpowered by emotion? You may on the other hand have gabbled all kinds of nonsense. You changed your daily routine for a glimpse of the one who had you trapped in an ecstasy of love. In short you were a slave to your new king or queen, god or goddess. They were Sovereign over you. You would do anything to please them. Imagine that. A human soul enslaved to a ten year old! And as time went by and they exercised that sovereign control over your life, your life changed. Friends, parents, and others could see a change in your behaviour. Our lives are like that with God. He is, after all, The King of Love. And he is a true sovereign King. He rules over all, despite what circumstances, or people tell you. But God is a dangerous King too. While God loves his people, in fact all people, He is careful to keep His own name and purposes pure and holy.
Actions demand consequences
And so we read of this dangerous Sovereign God king in Ezekiel chapter 5.
God is angry at the people he has chosen to be holy, because they have not been holy. Through Ezekiel he shows what is going to happen to them in verses 1-4. They are going to be surrounded by enemies who will starve them to the stage that they will become cannibals. Those enemies will then burn their city and pursue them and kill them. And even those who escape will continue to be killed. And of those who survive a small portion will escape. We are used to hearing of a King of Love; we forget that when lovers quarrel, feelings are hurt. Israel had been chosen and loved by God. He had showered on them blessing of fertility, of victories, of a land full of houses that they had not built, wells that they had not dug, vineyards that they had not planted. (Deut 6) And yet they rebelled against God. They forgot his laws, deliberately broke the covenant they had agreed to and now the result was to be not awesome, but awful. And we might say today, well that is really not quite fair. After all, maybe the people were led astray by their leaders. Maybe many of the people didn’t sin deliberately, but were also punished. But the problem is that while God does deal with us individually, he also deals with us as a community of faith. Or in this case a community that lacks visible faith. If they loved God their King, they would be obedient. Like their first love, they would fall over themselves to be holy and to do the things of God. And so when a community of faith calls itself God’s people, but does not act like God’s people there are consequences. And God being Sovereign cannot tolerate betrayal. And that is what Israel did, and that is what we do when we fail to be obedient to the laws of our Sovereign God.
God’s Way’s are different – get used to it!
In Ezekiel’s time there were those who said, well God hasn’t destroyed us like those prophets told us he would, let’s just ignore the laws and the commandments. They forgot not only the law, but God’s mercy. God delays, so that people may repent, at least, that is what I hope. Because God is not as predictable as I or perhaps you would like him to be. For instance, I have often wondered why Joseph, of technicolour dream coat fame, was so favoured. He did not seem to be very likeable. He boasted of his dreams of power. And what about the great King David? He was described as a man after God’s own heart, but he broke God’s laws more and more deliberately than poor Saul, who was obviously not favoured by God. God forgave David when he repented, but he did not forgive Saul when he asked for forgiveness. Who is this God who can seemingly set up rules and yet not be bound by them? Well he is Yahweh. He is simply God. The one who says I will be who I will be. The one who says in Isaiah 55:8, 9
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Even David and Israel were punished at the end by God, not for being adulterous, or sending an innocent man to death, but for conducting a census. These are issues that I personally have no answer for. I, we, worship a God that we cannot understand. We really cannot predict what God will do, or how he will guide our lives. The God who treats his prophet Ezekiel very strangely. In Chapter three he lifts him up by the scruff of the neck while Ezekiel is in bitterness and anger at what God has asked him to do. And in Chapter eight will lift Ezekiel up by his hair to view Jerusalem. The question for each of us is how do we deal with God, if we cannot understand how he will deal with us? The answer is simply that we must trust. It is not very satisfying. I struggled with why God would send an evil spirit to torment Saul, his chosen one for years. But I simply trust that this is right because I believe that God is right. I personally would not do that. I don’t think that God would want me to torment anyone with anything in my power. But God is sovereign. It means that we simply accept his works and word. He is My King. Let me illustrate this with a personal example. I may have mentioned that I love my wife’s cooking. I am always amazed at the way she simply just knows exactly what to do and what to put in the dish. She follows a recipe as a guide rather than an instruction manual. She does things and puts things together, I would think were completely wrong, an in doing so she produces total chaos in the kitchen. But in the dining room, on the table she is queen. She is sovereign. She knows what she is doing. Would it be the way I would do it? No. Does it work out well? Yes.