Read Ezekiel 6
Doom for the Mountains of Israel
6 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against the mountains of Israel; prophesy against them 3 and say: ‘You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. 4 Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols. 5 I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. 6 Wherever you live, the towns will be laid waste and the high places demolished, so that your altars will be laid waste and devastated, your idols smashed and ruined, your incense altars broken down, and what you have made wiped out. 7 Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the Lord.
8 “‘But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations. 9 Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. 10 And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them.
11 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out “Alas!” because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the people of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. 12 One who is far away will die of the plague, and one who is near will fall by the sword, and anyone who survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I pour out my wrath on them. 13 And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idolsaround their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every leafy oak—places where they offered fragrant incense to all their idols. 14 And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah—wherever they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”
Ezekiel, God’s prophet to Israel, is now speaking the Lord’s message of judgment to Israel addressing the mountains and hills, ravines, and valleys. Destruction will come to these places that were established to worship false gods in a direct affront to and rejection of the one true God. Ezekiel explains that this desolation, demolition, and death to idol worship and its worshippers is so that “you will know I am the Lord.” God’s purpose is to restore the people to their proper relationship with Him. In this chapter alone, this purpose is stated four times, “then they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel repeats this message from God over 60 times in this book.
Reading this chapter gives us a glimpse into the heart of God. He is holy and just and must address rebellion, false worship, injustice, and wickedness. The warnings prophesied by Ezekiel also reveal His purpose to draw His people back to Him and to recognize that He alone is the Lord. His mercy and grace are exposed as Ezekiel speaks of God’s sparing a remnant from the sword who will then remember that God is the Lord.
Notice the description of God’s grief over the unfaithful adulterous hearts of His people. Their sin of rejecting Him and pursuing false gods broke His heart. Centuries earlier, God spoke these heartfelt words in Deuteronomy 5:29, “Oh that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” This remnant scattered, yet spared, will repent of their “loathsome” practices as they recall that He alone is the Lord and that when He speaks, He does not speak in vain.
As difficult as it is to think of the devastating judgment prophesied by Ezekiel, there are significant truths about God that should prompt our praise, worship, and gratitude. He is the one true God and He alone is worthy of our worship. His words are trustworthy and certain. He is perfectly just and immeasurably merciful. He is the God who cares, who grieves over us. Our sin breaks His heart, just as the Israelites’ sin did. The good news is Jesus suffered the punishment on the cross for our rebellious, detestable sins. The penalty we deserve was endured by Christ. God’s perfect justice was satisfied because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that He alone is the Lord!
- How have you been reminded that God alone is the Lord?
- How does knowing that God’s heart can be broken by your sin influence your view of God?
- How have you grieved the heart of God? Would you take a moment to admit this to Him and repent? If this is an ongoing struggle, ask your Life Group to walk with you as you seek to repent and experience God’s mercy.
Ralph Alexander writes in Everyman’s Bible Commentary these helpful thoughts:
“In every generation God’s judgment and discipline is misunderstood by most people. God’s chief desire is to bring people to Himself or back to Himself. When mankind willfully refuses to turn to Him, God mercifully uses discipline and judgment to cause people to recognize that He is the only true God, always faithful to what He has said in His word.”