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Now, why would God do this? Chapter 22 he now tells us the things that were happening and the sins for which God's judgment was coming.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt show her all her abominations. Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; The city is filled with murders in the midst of it, the shedding of blood, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself. Thou art become guilty in thy blood which thou hast shed; and thou hast defiled thyself with your idols which you have made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries ( Ezekiel 22:1-4 ).
Because you have turned to idolatry and because the murders that are going on. And, of course, this was to their idols. They were sacrificing their own children as live sacrifices to these gods.
Those that be near, and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed. Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood ( Ezekiel 22:5-6 ).
So the princes were polluted.
In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow ( Ezekiel 22:7 ).
The princes here, rather than dealing righteously, were dealing by oppression: oppressing the stranger, oppressing the orphan, the widow, taking advantage of the weak.
Thou hast despised my holy things, and you have profaned my sabbaths. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. In thee have they discovered their fathers' nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that were set apart for her pollution ( Ezekiel 22:8-10 ).
They were not to have intercourse with a menstruous woman, but they were doing it.
And one hath committed abomination with his neighbor's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter ( Ezekiel 22:11 ).
So there was incest that was being practiced. Adultery, fornication, pornography, lewdness.
In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood ( Ezekiel 22:12 );
So there was murder by hire.
thou hast taken usury and increase ( Ezekiel 22:12 ),
Interest rates went up to twenty percent, crime.
and you have greedily gained of your neighbors by extortion, and you have forgotten me, saith the Lord ( Ezekiel 22:12 ).
Of course, a person couldn't do these things without forgetting God. You see, if you're conscious of God you couldn't be doing these things. You've got to put God out of your mind to be able to do these things.
Behold, therefore I have ( Ezekiel 22:13 )
And that, of course, I might say, is the result of putting God out of the minds of people. Then what do you have as a guide? What do you have as a standard for morality? What do you have as a guide for right and wrong? If you put God out of the minds of the people, if you declare there is no God, or God is so removed from His creation that He has no concern, then the people are cut loose, there is nothing as a standard for morality. There are no codes to follow. If every man must just experience for himself life and the various aspects of life relating to them and interpreting them for himself and there is no God to answer to, then the door is open for all of these things, and who's to say it is wrong? And so we have psychologists today written up in Time Magazine about three weeks ago who are advocating incest as a wholesome, healthy practice. Encouraging the parents to start sexual relations with their children when they are two or three years old so that they might understand a new dimension of love. But you see, if everything is relative, and if there is no God, then who is to say that is wrong? Who's to say adultery is wrong, fornication is wrong? High interest rates are wrong. Contracting for someone's murder is wrong, killing someone is wrong. Who says? What's your standard? You've put God out of the picture. That opens the door for anything that a man wants to do.
And so the whole key is there: you have forgotten Me. And that is the danger of putting God aside, setting God aside out of our educational system, where you can't talk about Jesus Christ. You can't talk about a belief in God. You can't advocate that they believe in God. So what are you doing? You're just opening up this whole sordid mess that we see in the world around us. We have sown the wind, as the prophet Hosea said, and now we're reaping the whirlwind. We are reaping the result of this whole secular humanism that was fostered upon our school systems by the Watsons and the Deweys and the Huxleys. And it's probably too late to reverse it. The die has been cast. I don't know how we can reverse it. Only God can reverse it, and that through the intercession of His people.
It is interesting as we read the things that were going on in Israel, they are the same things you read in your newspaper. Because they had forgotten God. If they had not forgotten God, if they had God in their minds and their hearts, in their consciousness, they couldn't do these things.
Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at your dishonest gain which you have made, and at the blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and I will consume the filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD ( Ezekiel 22:13-16 ).
That oft repeated phrase, some sixty-one, sixty-two times in Ezekiel, "Thou shalt know that I am Jehovah."
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is become as dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you ( Ezekiel 22:17-22 ).
Now it is interesting that when Moses was predicting the apostasy of the people in Deuteronomy, "When you've come into the land and you begin to pollute yourself in the land, and you turn from God and you forget God," and so forth, and this apostasy takes place, that Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that they would be burned with hunger and devour with burning heat. Here God says, "I'm gonna melt you in this caldron as silver and tin and iron are melted."
And the word of the LORD came unto me saying, Son of man, say unto her, You are in the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation. There is a conspiracy of her prophets ( Ezekiel 22:23-25 )
So the prophets were polluted. They were lying to the people.
in the midst thereof, they are like a roaring lion ravening on the prey: they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof ( Ezekiel 22:25 ).
So these prophets were greedy. They were always emphasizing giving money. "Send in your money, your dollars, you know." Greedy for gain. Representing to the people that God was always broke. His program was just out of funds, and you better rescue God this week, or next week it's bankruptcy. God's going out of business unless you come in and save Him from this terrible fate. The prophets were taking the treasure and the precious things from these little widows. Extorting their Social Security checks.
Her priests have violated my law, they have profaned my holy things: they don't know the difference between that which is holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them ( Ezekiel 22:26 ).
Some recent survey showed that some eighty percent of the ministers in the United States do not believe in hell as a place of punishment for the wicked. Sixty percent don't believe in heaven. Seventy-eight percent don't believe in the virgin birth. And then you get to the resurrection and all and you find unbelievers among the ministry. Well no wonder the church is dead. If there's nothing to be gained, why go? Nothing to be lost, why get involved?
The priests had violated the law of God; they'd turned against God. "I am profaned among them."
Her princes [the rulers, the governors] in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain [bribery, Abscam]. Her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken ( Ezekiel 22:27-28 ).
Doing all of this in the name of God. All of this junky, fundraising stuff in the name of God. "The Lord hath spoken." Oh, I get these letters all the time, computerized letters. "The Lord laid you on my heart today, and God gave me a special message for you. He wants you to sit down and write out a check and send it to me. Thus saith the Lord, you know. Support me so I can buy my new yacht."
The people of the land have used oppression, they have exercised robbery, they have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. [And in all of this God said,] And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none ( Ezekiel 22:29-30 ).
The Lord is merciful. The Lord is plenteous in mercy, slow to wrath and slow to anger. But He will not always try, nor will He keep His judgment forever. In other words, there can come a day when God must judge. Though He is reluctant, yet His hand is forced. Now here, in the midst of this whole perversity, God was still seeking an excuse to show mercy and to forgive.
Now, God puts a hedge around His people. Job had a hedge around him according to Satan complaining to God. "Have you considered My servant Job? Perfect man, upright, one who loves good and hates evil." "Oh, yes, I know that fellow. I've seen him. You've put a hedge around him; I can't get to him. You take down that hedge, you let me get to him and he'll curse you to your face. You see, you've blessed the guy, you've prospered him. Who wouldn't love you if you blessed and prospered? Anybody would serve you for that. Job's a hireling, God. Serving You because of prosperity. Take down the hedge."
God has a hedge around His people. But sin breaks down that hedge. Now God is looking for someone to stand and to build up that hedge. Man had become alienated from God. God was looking for some man to stand in the gap. Of course, Jesus is the one who came and stood in the gap for us. And has reconciled us to God through the blood of His cross. God said, "I sought for a man among them who would build up the hedge who would stand in the gap, but I found none." A man who would stand before the Lord for the land, an intercessor so that God would not destroy the land. But there was no one to intercede. There was no man there.
Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way ( Ezekiel 22:31 )
In other words, retribution, judgment has come.
their own way have I recompensed on their heads, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 22:31 ).
No more mercy, but now judgment, retribution. Their own ways have been turned upon their heads.
Now as we see the conditions that brought upon the destruction of Israel, the things that were going on, we look around the land today we see the things that are happening here. History is repeating itself. The principles are still the same; God is still merciful, plenteous in mercy, and God is still looking for men to stand before God for the land. To build up the hedge, to stand in the gap lest He destroy. But God's judgment, though it lingers of a long time, will surely come. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 22". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany