“Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood.  Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you.  You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths.  There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst.  In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity.  One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter.  In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord GOD.
 “Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst.  Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.  I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you.  And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
 And the word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver.  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.  As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you.  I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it.  As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”
 And the word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation.  The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.  Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.  Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain.  And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.  The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.  And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.  Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
(Ezekiel 22 ESV)
"Will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations."
I'm sitting here trying to imagine what it would be like to judge a group of people i had been communicating with for a long time. Acting out God's plans for her, seeing her sins and her failures. Knowing God's wrath.
Man... that would be SO HARD. Seriously.
God abhors what Israel has come. Offering bloody sacrifices and defiling herself with idols. It's Israel's own fault that things have reached the point they are. But even so... what a tough job to be a prophet like Ezekiel.
He must have been made of stern stuff to be able to withstand it all. OR had such a huge reliance on God that made it all possible.
Israel has become "a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries." Ezekiel had a place in proclaiming that.
God then lists the wrongs they have committed.
- Princes of Israel bent on shedding blood
- Parents treated with contempt.
- Travellers extorted
- Fatherless and widows treated poorly
- Despising God's holy things.
- Profaning the sabbath
- violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity
- One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife
- another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law
- another in you violates his sister,
- Taking bribes to kill
- profiting by extortion
ALL these things they remember to do, but they forget God.
Again the Lord says.. I shall consume your uncleanness of out you. YOU WILL KNOW that I am the Lord.
Can you see it?
Even in God's anger, in his profound wrath at all the things Israel is doing, what his people are doing, his sole desire is this: that his people know that HE IS THE LORD GOD.
He so wants them to return to him.
All this talk in verses 17-22 of how Israel has become dross to the Lord had me looking up what dross was.
Dross in the rubbish of refining metal. It's useless. Rubbish. It's the foreign matter, dregs, or mineral waste, in particular scum formed on the surface of molten metal.
And so God will burn it off. He will gather them together and burn off the dross, getting rid of all those impurities.
in verses 23-31 I read of a sad thing. God searched among all the evil-doers in Israel...seeing all the horrible things the people were doing. He was looking for "a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it" and God couldn't find one. not a single person to stand in the gap. So his wrath is poured out.
I have to admit, I read those words and my heart weeps for Israel.
Then I stop as I realize a singularly important detail.
That's what Christ is for us.
He's the one the God was looking for.
He's the one that stands in the gap. Who builds up the wall. Who stands in the breach.
Without Christ... this is what I would be. I'm no different than Israel and her fallen people.
Christ came though and stands in the gap. He keeps the wall up.
He stands between me and God, holding back God's wrath from me and HE WILL DO THE SAME for anyone.
That is the COOLEST THING.
ALL one has to do is believe that Christ is the answer, to the stopping of God's wrath from pouring out, and bam...there he is. Standing there between God and those who believe... keeping God's wrath back. Interceding on our behalf.
This was God's plan all along.
Glory be to him eh! Glory be to him.