By Bob Bunn
I realize that not every guy has the benefit of growing up in a great situation. For many men, God redeems the pain and difficulties of their early lives and shapes them into new creatures for His glory. I’m thankful for that. And I’m thankful that I was blessed with a multitude of Christian influences growing up. I went to a Christian school and was a member of a solid church. I had great friends who weren’t perfect; but, as we got older, we were intentional about holding one another accountable and pointing each other toward God. I had mentors who poured into my life and saw something in me that I couldn’t always see in myself.
Then, there were my parents. They were firm, but fair; and I have a lot of great memories of our time together. They didn’t weigh me down with a bunch of rules, but they expected me to obey the rules they did set. In fact, when either of them spoke, the conversation ended. No arguments. No negotiation. No debate.It was a done deal, and disobedience brought consequences.
That’s sort of what comes to my mind when I read through today’s passage. God had done all He could to be a great parent to the children of Judah. He had met their needs and protected them so many times. Even more, He had forgiven them when they stepped out of line—which happened a lot.
The nation called to exalt the one, true God was better known for its injustice and idolatry. Jerusalem, the home of a temple built for His name, was filled with violence and profanity. He had given them multiple chances to turn back to Him, but they had snubbed Him every single time.
Now, He was speaking through His prophet, and the message was about judgment. No arguments. No negotiation. No debate. God said it, and that settled it.
But while God might sound harsh in these passages, don’t miss the message present in His message. He wasn’t punishing Judah because He enjoyed their suffering. He wasn’t removing them from the promised land as a way to get even. Instead, His goal was to redeem His people so He could bring them home one day.
The Lord compared Jerusalem to a fire where precious metals are brought for purification (Ezekiel 22:20–21). As the heat gets turned up, the metals melt; but the impurities rise to the top and are scraped off. That process is repeated many times until the metals are as pure as possible.
That was God’s desire for His people. Yes, He was going to turn up the heat. Their sin demanded justice, and His character required action. Yet, through the fire of exile, God would still be working in the lives of His children. His indictment of sin included an invitation for salvation.
God hasn’t changed. He still judges sin. Never forget, though, that restoration is always His goal.