The dark message of chapter twenty is ill received by the people of God. They cannot believe God is going to be so cruel in His punishment of His own people. Deaf and blind to truth, for whatever reason, they dismiss Ezekiel as a teacher of parables. You can almost hear them: “Yeah, sure Ezekiel, yada yada yada whatever.”
How do you teach people like this?
You don’t really, but God isn’t stopping.
In chapter twenty one the Lord repeatedly underscores the punishments coming.
“I will draw my sword.” “I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked.”
“It is coming. It will surely take place.” “Testing will surely come.” I have stationed the sword for slaughter at all their gates.” “A ruin, a ruin, I will make it [Jerusalem] a ruin.” Using a word three times is “the strongest superlative the Hebrew language can give.” God’s people may not be listening, they may have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear, the that will not delay the inevitable.
There are, of course, those people who, in Ezekiel’s day, could not be happier at the prospect of this turn of events. They delight in the misery of God’s people. These who rejoice in the misfortune of others (no matter how much the “others” deserve it), the Ammonites, are destined for the same end of all who disrespect the people of God. As one writer puts it, “Their ultimate fate will be worse than Israel’s and worse even than Egypt’s, for they will be no more remembered. To the Semitic mind nothing could be more terrible: no prospect of restoration, no continuance in succeeding generations, no memorial, not even a memory. Oblivion.”
No matter how much the Jews may have done to offend God, they were still His people.
Christian folks ought to keep this in mind. The world may laugh at our faith and deride us for our hypocrisy. But make no mistake, warts and all, we are the Lord’s. They, are not. It’s no reason to be hypocritical but every reason to be repentant.