Reading through the Bible together
This chapter deals with two important aspects of spiritual life: hearing the word of God and prayer. The message in this chapter is addressed to the elders and the nation of Israel who try to use these two avenues to reach and please God. But both the elders and Israel were far from the true experience of listening to God and communicating with Him in prayer.
The elders come to Ezekiel proposing to hear the word of the Lord while their hearts were full of idols; those things that hinder them from hearing and accepting God’s word. While their hearts were far from God they present a front of showing an interest in hearing what God has to say. Outward show does not enable one to really listen to God, unless the heart is clean and pure from active sin, only then is one ready to receive God’s word. God presents the remedy to their condition: repent and turn your face from sin (14:6). God warns the false prophets of severe punishment for leading His people away Him. The assurance from God is that if His people repent and turn to Him, they will continue to be His people and He their God (v. 11).
Because of their sin Israel has brought punishment and desolation on their nation. But they thought that the prayers of some righteous prophets could help avert the punishment of God. Instead of putting away their sin and repenting, Israel tried to find their own way to make things right with God. Each one has to repent of their sins and no one can take their place and no one else’s goodness or righteousness can deliver them from punishment.
While God’s judgments are poured on the guilty, God does remember the remnant who are true and faithful to Him. God’s true people will be a living witness to others to show why God has been so kind and spared them while the unrepentant receive His punishment. Genuine desire to turn to God must be seen as an inner change and a putting away of sin, and not a mere formal outward appearance.
Roy Jemison Injety
Spicer College, India