Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,
"Son of man, when the house of
was living in their own
land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was
like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. Therefore I poured out My
wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled
it with their idols. Also I scattered them among the nations and they were
dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I
judged them. When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My
holy name, because it was said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD; yet
they have come out of His land.' But I had concern for My holy name, which the
house of Israel
had profaned among the nations where they went. Israel
Therefore say to the house of
Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not
for your sake, O house of ,
that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the
nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which
has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst.
Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD,
"when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you
from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own
land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will
cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will
give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the
heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My
Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful
to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your
forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. Israel
"Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. I am not doing this for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of
(An ancient king’s proclamation, otherwise known as Ezekiel 36:16-32)
By the waters of
and Ezekiel, as usual, is having a vision. Babylon
God: Son of Man, get your notepad out, I’m making a pronouncement.
Ezekiel: (Under his breath) I hope that’s all…
God: What did you say?
Ezekiel: You heard what I said.
God: Well, of course I did. You can’t hide anything from me.6
Ezekiel: So stop pretending otherwise.7
God: Sorry. Anyway, you were saying?
Ezekiel: I just want to make sure that you are just going to have me write something. I’m getting tired of the acrobatics.
God: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean by that…
Ezekiel: Oh, yeah? What about having me lay on my side for over a year? You think that’s comfortable?8
God: I’m sure it wasn’t, but there was a good reason…
Ezekiel: And what about not allowing me to mourn for my wife when she died?9
God: Mourning is so messy, anyway…
Ezekiel: And the time you had me eat human shit?
God: That is not true! You were only going to use it for fuel to cook your food on.10
Ezekiel: You know that parts of what you burn gets on the food when you eat it. I’m not an idiot.
God: Besides, you never did use the human shit.
Ezekiel: No, cow shit instead!
God: That’s what you cook with every day.
God: You sure are cranky today. Did you get up on the wrong side of the sidewalk?
Ezekiel: Ha, ha. You wanted me to write something?
God: I’m not sure, now. Maybe we should talk another day…
Ezekiel: No, I’m okay. I’m just tired is all.
God: Tired of what?
Ezekiel: I’m tired of being a mediator between you and this people. It’s all pointless. You tell me what to speak to them, and they all come, that’s for certain. In droves. Because you make me so entertaining to them—making models and telling of my visions of being pulled up by my hair thousands of miles. But when they leave, they never listen to your message. They don’t pay any real attention to me at all. I’m just providing that day’s entertainment. But no one actually listens to me. “Zeke, you’re so funny! As if
will really be destroyed! You know that God will pull us out of this
and take us home!” Ha! They weren’t laughing when they did get the
news of Jerusalem
destroyed. But they don’t listen any
better now that they know that you really spoke to me. They are in despair and they aren’t doing any
more justice now than they ever had.11 Jerusalem
God: I know that it’s hard. I told you from the beginning no one would listen to you. In the end, though, you aren’t writing for these people, anyway. You are writing for their children and for millions of others, as yet unborn.
Ezekiel: So why bother speaking to these idiots? Why not just write it down for the later generations? I’d love to just not speak to these idiots anymore.
God: You’ve got to have a context to speak to, and real people to minister to, even if it seems pointless.
Ezekiel: The world would be so much better without people.
God: Don’t I know it. But I tried that route, and it just didn’t work.
Ezekiel: Why not? Why didn’t you just wipe them all out, including Noah? He was no great shakes of righteousness, either, you know.
God: You never knew him, Zeke. Sure, he was sometimes a screw up, but you should have seen what I had to work with then. Noah really was an amazing guy.
Ezekiel: I still think you should have just started over completely.
God: One little problem with that. I promised that humans would rule the earth. No matter how crappy they turn out to be, I still put them in charge, and I’ve got to stick to my promises.
Ezekiel: But if a promise is a bad one, why not scrap it?
God: (Chuckling) Zeke, you know that you’d be one of the ones I’d wipe out, right? If what you said happens?
Ezekiel: Today, I wouldn’t mind that at all. Well, we’ve got work to do, right? I’m ready to write and I don’t have anything to tell them today anyway.
God: You know, I was saving this for another day, but you’re in such a state, I think I’ll give this to you today.
God: You really want to lay into them today?
Ezekiel: You mean like the day I slammed them with the story of the baby girl who grows up to be a harlot?12 That was poetic justice, that was…
God: Well, I doubt anything will compare to that slam, but today, I want you to tell them what I really think of them.
Ezekiel: Maybe I’m not the only one who’s in a bad mood?
God: Oh, no, I’m fine. But they need to hear this, and I think you’re in the right state to tell them.
Ezekiel: Oooo! I can’t wait! So, what comes first?
God: Okay, take this down, “Son of Man…” you know I always start that way.
Ezekiel: Yeah, I know… go on…
God: “When you Israelites were living in the land I gave you, you ruined it by the evils you did.”
Ezekiel: Got it. Wow, nothing like starting out with a zinger.
God: “You worshipped small, green idols made of paper…”
Ezekiel: Huh? Green? Papyrus?
God: You clean it up. You know how to speak to your people.
Ezekiel: Sure, yeah… go on.
God: “You ignored the cry of the poor and called them criminals. You had no mercy on the diseased and called them sinners. You created strongholds to your own pride and declared that you made them for me. You declared sex to be an entertainment instead of a commitment. You destroyed the very earth and the species I created.” You still keeping up?
Ezekiel: Nice. Go on.
God: “Because of this, I destroyed you off of the land you defiled, in order to grant the land a rest from your evil ways.”
Ezekiel: Give the land a Sabbath from evil? Cool idea!
God: It’s a program I’m working on.13 We’ll see how it works. Continue: “So I took you and threw you among the nations, as one might scatter seed on the ground. But as you were cast among all the peoples of the world, you persisted in your evil deeds, and did not persist.”
Ezekiel: You want me to repeat the vice list again?
God: Up to you. Style it up. You know. “But worst of all, you allowed my name to be defiled among those who did not know me. You went to the nations, defeated, detested and demoralized. You did not declare your own responsibility for your punishment, but remained silent.”
Ezekiel: Trust me, these guys aren’t silent, Lord. You should see me try to shut them up when it’s time to start the service.
God: They’re only silent about what matters. “The peoples who never knew me now say, ‘Yahweh is a weak god. He allowed his people to be driven out of the land. And look at these people’s practices—they are wicked! They are arrogant and heartless! Yahweh must be as merciless as these!’ My reputation has been destroyed. I'm as mad as hell. And I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Ezekiel: Nice lead up. Getting ready for the punch now?
God: “I will not act for your sake,
you have proven to not be worthy.
Rather, I am going to make my name holy again. You have defiled it, but I will hallow my
name. The name of Yahweh will be honored
among the nations, and upon you I will declare my holiness.” Israel
Ezekiel: Okay, so what are you going to do, Lord?
God: “First, I will gather you from the nations, and make you a people again. And I will bring you back to the land and make you a powerful force in the world.”
Ezekiel: Hold on…
God: “Then I will multiply food for you and water and you will never hunger again. Nor will you ever be scattered among the nations again. I will make the land like the paradise of
, full and plentiful
and great. You will have so much, you can provide for yourself, your poor and
all the nations around you.” Eden
Ezekiel: Whoa, just wait a minute, God. This doesn’t make any sense!
God: What don’t you understand?
Ezekiel: Well, perhaps you don’t recall, but you are punishing these people for their sin. They have done evil, as you said, and they continue to do evil. And you are going to reward them for it?
God: Of course I won’t.
Ezekiel: But you were just saying…
God: Didn’t you listen? I told them that I’m not doing this for them. They don’t deserve it, clearly. I’m doing this for my own reputation. You know how I like good press…
Ezekiel: Yes, that’s true.
God: Well, I’m sick and tired of my headlines reading, “Yahweh gets defeated again!” and “Markuk wins over Yahweh!” or “Money brings you happiness, God not so much”. This has been terrible. So I have to do something.
Ezekiel: Okay, I understand this. But you certainly don’t want the headlines to read, “Yahweh rewards hypocrisy!” Or “God hates the poor!” Because if you reward this people, that’s what you’ll get.
God: Okay, well hang on. I’m not done yet. Just wait.
Ezekiel: Alright… (Puts his pen to the papyrus)… go….
God: “I shall prepare you for sacrifice and sprinkle clean water on you. You shall be cleansed from all of your filthy ways and forgiven for the great evils you have done. And then I will place within each of you My Spirit of holiness. This Spirit will make within you what you have never had—pure hearts focused only on loving me. And in that love you will accomplish the justice, purity and mercy I desire. You will be my people, not only in word, but in action. Then all the peoples will see and be astonished at my great power.”
Ezekiel: Well, I have to say, I’m stunned. This is amazing. I’ve never heard you speak this way before.
God: I haven’t. It’s been my plan for a long time, but I’ve never told anyone before.
Ezekiel: Amazing. So, let me ask you, why didn’t you do this before? I mean, why not just give them your Spirit of holiness from the beginning? Then you wouldn’t have had to scatter them. Would’ve saved you a lot of work.
God: Remember, Zeke, I can only redeem someone when they are a slave. I can only save someone who needs help. They never saw themselves as poor and desperate in their own land, with their wealth around them. They had to cry out to me in their desperation, and then I can give them the great promises. Of course, I wouldn’t have had to punish them so severely if they’d obeyed me in the first place. But, as it is, I had to scatter them, give them hunger, poverty, sickness and desperation. Now they are ready to hear it. Only in despair can people receive holiness with welcome. Because only then do they see that mercy and purity actually work.
Ezekiel: (Awed) You are the chess Grandmaster. What a great strategy.
God: Thanks, Zeke. That means a lot, coming from you.
Ezekiel: I’m no genius.
God: No. But you always call it like it is. That’s what I’ve always liked about you, Zeke. Okay, have a good service!
Ezekiel: Thanks, Lord!
6. Psalm 139—God as the greatest intelligence agent of all time.
7. Ever notice that God seems ignorant about some things? Genesis 3:9; Genesis 18:21.
8. Ezekiel 4:4-5
9. Ezekiel 24:15-24
10. Ezekiel 4:9-17
11. Ezekiel 3:4-9; 8:1.
12. Ezekiel 16. Start at verse one and keep going until you get grossed out.
13. Leviticus 25:2-13; Jeremiah 25:11-12.