In our study of Ezekiel chapter seven, we will look at the pattern that God follows in judging the actions of His people. We will look at the example of God's judgment on Israel and apply it to the coming judgment of all mankind.
The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: "The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land!"'
Although the prophet was sharing the fact that Israel was going to be led into the Babylonian captivity, we can learn from it today. We see that God always sends warning prior to His judgment. We have been given God's warning that He will judge all of the earth in the Book of Revelation.
'"The end is now upon you, and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity; I will not spare you. I will surely repay you for your conduct and for the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord."'
As we see here, the pattern for God's judgment begins with the conduct of mankind. God only judges man after they have rejected Him and His authority. We also see that it is universally applied to all who reject Him (nobody is able to pretend and get away with it). We also see that God's judgment is the venting of His anger and that might make us uncomfortable. Too often, we have only heard that "God is love" which is true but He is also a jealous God. He is provoked to anger when His created beings reject Him. The purpose of this and all judgment is so that people will acknowledge the fact that He is Lord of all the things He has created.
'This is what the Sovereign Lord says, "Disaster! Unheard-of disaster! See, it comes!"'
To the people of Ezekiel's day, being captured by the Babylonians was an unthinkable disaster. The judgment that is coming on all of the earth is so terrible that it could not even be adequately described by John in Revelation. We have heard about the great depths of God's love but the heights of His wrath upon those who reject Him is just as big.
'The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. See, it comes! Doom has come upon you, upon you who dwell in the land. The time has come! The day is near! There is panic, not joy, on the mountains.'
The judgment is certain as this passage gives us the sense that it is unstoppable once it is decided upon.
'I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity; I will not spare you. I will repay you for your conduct and for the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes you.'
We see that not even the mercy of God can stop the eventual judgment for turning their backs on Him. We often hear about God's mercy but seldom hear about His justice. As we see here, His mercy has a season but His wrath does as well. What is the purpose of God's judgment? It is so that the people will acknowledge Him for who He is and cause them to fear Him. This Godly fear has the power to produce repentance which is the first step to restoration.
'See, the day! See, it comes! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! Violence has arisen, a rod to punish the wicked. None of the people will be left, none of that crowd - none of their wealth, nothing of value.'
This verse calls to mind the budding of Aaron's staff that God used as a sign to the rebellious people (see Numbers 17). In that case, Aaron's rod produced almonds and throughout Scripture almonds are a reminder of God's watchfulness. In this case, the rod has produced arrogance which is at the heart of sin. The people did not believe that God would judge them because of the fact that they were the "chosen people". Here, the people are reminded that God sees the arrogance and that He has punished rebellion in the past. They are also reminded that the punishment is not based on one's standing in society as it will fall on the rich as well as the poor.
'The time has come! The day has arrived! Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for my wrath is on the whole crowd.'
This verse speaks of the poor selling their property and the rich buying it. In this time of judgment, the possessions will not matter anymore and material wealth will not protect anyone.
'The seller will not recover the property that was sold - as long as both buyer and seller live. For the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve their life.'
This verse speaks about the timing of the judgment and the fact that it will be before the next year of jubilee. In Leviticus 25, instructions were given to Israel concerning the buying and selling of land. Every fifty years, the land would be returned to the family that had sold it.
'They have blown the trumpet, they have made all things ready, but no one will go into battle, for my wrath is on the whole crowd. Outside is the sword; inside are plague and famine. Those in the country will die by the sword; those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague.'
The blowing of the trumpet refers to the instructions that Israel was given by God. When Israel was to fight enemies within their land that were oppressing them, the priests were to blow the silver trumpets and God would remember them (see Numbers 10). Here, we see that the blowing of the trumpets will not save them as the judgment is from God and no army or man can stand against it. Once again, we see the completeness of the judgment. Material wealth could not protect the people and now we see that location will not either. Although they would perish by different methods, the result was the same no matter where they were located. The same thing will be true in the last days as the judgment of God will touch all nations. It seems like there are some countries today that have been rather insulated from the problems of our world. In the last days, there will be such massive changes to the world that it will no longer be possible for a group of people to be insulated from its effects.
The fugitives who escape will flee to the mountains. Like doves of the valleys, they will all moan, each for their own sins. Every hand will go limp; every leg will be wet with urine. They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Every face will be covered with shame. and every head will be shaved.
This passage speaks of Mt Arbel which is located in lower Galilee near Tiberias. The Valley of Doves connects Nazareth and Capernaum and would have been a route that Jesus walked many times. The mountain has caves in it which were used to hide in and, here, we see that some of the people will flee to these caves out of fear. They will mourn like the call of doves when they realize the depths of their sin against God. We are reminded that the purpose of God's judgment is to bring His people to repentance.
'"They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin. They took pride in their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols. They made it into vile images; therefore I will make it a thing unclean for them."'
The people had been blessed with material possessions by God. They had used that gold and silver to make idols but, in the last day, the wealth will mean nothing. Ezekiel shares a quote from Isaiah 2 in describing how the people will discard the wealth. This also reminds us of the description of the last days that is contained in Revelation. There we see that wealth does not matter if you do not have the mark of the beast.
'I will give their wealth as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, who will defile it. I will turn my face away from the people, and robbers will desecrate the place I treasure. They will enter it and will defile it.'
This passage speaks of the final fall of Jerusalem as described in Zechariah 14. Jesus will hand the city over to the nations for a short time before He judges them and establishes His kingdom.
'Prepare chains! For the land is full of bloodshed, and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of nations to take possession of their houses. I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated.'
This passage speaks of the fact that God was going to bring the Babylonians to capture Jerusalem and Judah. We see that the religious leaders and the temple are described as prideful while Babylon is described as the most wicked of nations.
'When terror comes, they will seek peace in vain. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will go searching for a vision from the prophet, priestly instruction in the law will cease, the counsel of the elders will come to an end.'
Once they see the approaching army, the leaders would start looking for a message from God. They were hoping to get a message saying that He had changed His mind but there was no message to be heard. The same type of thing will happen in the last days but, then, the antichrist will be there with the message they want to hear.
'The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'
The leaders will not have any answers and the people will be filled with fear. God dealt with the idolatry of Judah and its purpose was so that they would know that God is in charge. In the last days, men will make themselves their own god and we can be sure that they will be judged as well. God's pattern of judgment will continue in those days and will be fulfilled in the end.