There is a human tendency to compare ourselves and our circumstances to others, and when we do we tend to view ourselves in a better light. We are tempted to think of “us” and “them” and we tend to place ourselves on top, especially when we perceive that we are blessed and others are not.
These twenty-five leaders of Judah that Ezekiel saw assessed their situation in Jerusalem by comparing themselves to their countrymen who were in exile. They were in the Holy City, the City of David, and the exiles were far away living in captivity. From all appearances, it would seem to us that those who were free to walk the streets of Jerusalem had God’s favor and those in Babylon did not.
It appears that the twenty-five leaders in this chapter made the same assumptions. Their expression in verse 2, “This city is the pot and we are the flesh,” is a reference to the sacrificial system where the pot was the altar and the flesh was the “good” part of the sacrifice. So, these leaders are declaring that those who remain in Jerusalem are in God’s favor while those faithful in Babylonian exile are judged by God and will receive His wrath.
When you have been convinced that you are right and God straightens out your thinking, it can be a big shock. You can imagine how surprising it was to these leaders to hear that they were judged by God. This reversal of thinking was apparently a shock to Ezekiel as well because he asks emphatically, “Alas, Lord God! Will You bring the remnant of Israel to a complete end?” In other words, “If these people back home in Jerusalem are facing judgment, do any of us stand a chance?”
God’s message through Ezekiel is sobering. Those who were in rebellion against Him or who were just passively playing religion would receive God’s judgment. From those who professed to be something they were not, God’s glory had departed and their situation appeared very bleak.
But, don’t miss this next point. God’s glory had not left completely. The judgments against these people did not mean the end of God’s people. A remnant existed. There was a remnant of God’s faithful (some in Babylon and some in Judah) and in a little while, they would experience restoration.
Notice: as the presence of God made its way out of the Temple and Jerusalem, it made one last stop (verses 22, 23) above the mountain that is east of the city. That mountain, later known as the Mount of Olives, is not only the place where Jesus would meet with His disciples, but is the place where Jesus after being crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, would ascend to heaven. It is the place where, when He returns with His people after the millennium, His feet will touch the mountain and it will split in two, forming a place for the New Jerusalem to descend (Zech. 14:4 and The Desire of Ages, p. 829).
Just as in the time of Ezekiel, there remains today a remnant; a remnant that experiences salvation from formal religion or from professing one thing while living something else. Salvation for the remnant only comes from having the glory of God, His presence, in the temple of your heart. Jesus is longing to reside there and deliver you. Will you invite Him in? If you already have, that is great news! Praise the Lord!
Dr. Eric Bates, Senior Pastor
Arden Seventh-day Adventist Church