Tag Archives: judgement

Ezekiel 22-24 it’s time: bring in Nebuchadnezzar!

I’ll focus on chapter 24 this week because it brings us to the close of the first major section of the book. The devastation, which the LORD has been promising, begins in this chapter. Even Ezekiel’s contemporaries were mocking the prophet for being ‘all words’ but nothing ever happened (12:21). Chapter 24 marks the very day when the words of the LORD commence fulfilment.


For 21 chapters, the Sovereign LORD has been communicating through Ezekiel that he will avenge judgment on Israel for their detestable practices. These have been idolatry in every obscene way and worse than all of the other nations. The people of God have been blessed by God and totally abandoned the beautiful relationship He initiated and nurtured and fought for. Ezekiel has described the way that Israel will be seized and totally destroyed by an enemy power under the authority of God.

Chapter 22: The appointed years have come to an end. You are infamous among the nations and mocked. Your ways are detestable: bloodshed, careless, violations, extortion – you have forgotten Me! You will be scattered and melted. You’ve made no distinction between holy and common. You whitewash your evil deeds like divination. I will pour down my wrath on you for all you have done.

Chapter 23: The Story of Two Daughters. There’s a strong link back to chapter 16 in this chapter. Samaria and Jerusalem are described as two daughters. The former was a whore and the latter saw their sister and did the same, only worse! So, drink your sister’s cup! Lewdness and whoring judged. Idolatry, defiling the sanctuary and adulterous – blood is on their hands. “You will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.”



A specific day in history is recorded when King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1). Ezekiel is in exile and being informed on the very day of the raid that it is happening from God. Notice that God refers to himself as the Sovereign LORD and in the parable that follows and the rest of the chapter, he describes what he will do to Jerusalem. Although Nebuchadnezzar is the man on the ground, he is a pawn in God’s plans.


A parable concerning a cooking pot. The imagery is difficult to understand. At first it sounds like an act of punishment – being boiled in the pot. But the imagery of the pot has been used elsewhere in Ezekiel and it’s best to be understood as a description of safety. Ezekiel 11:2-4 describes some wrong advice: that staying in the city is a good thing like the best meat placed into the pot rather than being the rubbish that gets seared directly onto the fire. Seeing the metaphor as a good thing, helps to understand the parable in chapter 24 (hopefully). The pot is the city and the meat are the cream of the crop in the city.

Verses 3-5 describes the scene of a great meal being cooked. The best meat into the pot to be cooked. With Ezekiel 11 in mind, this is a good image.

Verses 6-8 may describe the meat being removed from the place of safety. They are placed directly onto rock to be exposed, not drained into the earth, but increase their scorching by the fire outside the safety of the pot (city).

Verses 9-12 shows the aggression of the LORD’s anger to increase the temperature of the fire and to totally scourge everything in it. The pot will be boiled dry and then placed directly onto the hot coals.


The parable is followed up with the overall intent of its message. You will now receive the full sum of your judgement for what you have done.

The second half of the passage is where I’d like my groups to focus their attention.


Is there anything hard to understand in these words? The meaning seems plain to me. The LORD told Ezekiel that something heart wrenching was going to happen to him and that he is not to go about the normal ritual of mourning and lament. The “delight of [his] eyes” was taken from him. The LORD had Ezekiel’s wife die. The words are not unclear but the subject is difficult to digest. Does God hate Ezekiel or his wife that much? Is God punishing either of them or just making a point? Is the point worth ending a person’s life for?

Those who will struggle with this image may well need to meditate on what their idol is. Is God able to take whatever he pleases or not? The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Isn’t that true. At the risk of sounding cold and heartless (which I am not) God’s word is concerning eternal life and eternal truths, not restricted to this life we live on earth. People die every day. While writing this sentence, statistically speaking, 34 people have died in the world (www.medindia.net/patients/calculators/world-death-clock.asp). When people hesitate to love and trust God because a loved one dies, does this mean that our loved ones are more important than every other death that has occurred? Either God is Sovereign or he is not! Either he has got an understanding and control of suffering in this world, or he has not. If not, then suffering is as powerful or more powerful than God. What’s my point? That true worship of the Sovereign God must admit that God is aware and able to stop our suffering – but he chooses not to or even orchestrates it. I do not mean that he is to blame for our suffering, but that he is Sovereign over it.

So, why take away Ezekiel’s wife? It’s to make another vivid point to Israel. And the message is about the Temple.


The death of Ezekiel’s wife and the instruction for Ezekiel to not mourn was a message of what awaits Israel. The sanctuary of God, which Israel took pride in – “the delight of [their] eyes” – will be desecrated, and the people’s sons and daughters will be killed by the sword of the Babylonians. The people will not react with mourning and weeping but with groaning and wasting away because of their own sin. Their focus will not be on what they have lost but on what they have done and failed to do.

The tense of this paragraph is interesting to note. The LORD speaks through Ezekiel to say what God is saying and directs the message to the people, and then Ezekiel speaks the same tense but uses his own name in the third person. The sense given is truly that God is speaking!


On that day, everything they found delight and joy in will be taken away. They have turned their backs on God, treating him like he is of no value to them (see chapter 16) and they will lose what they had held dear to them.

The prophet was told back in 3:26-27 that he would be unable to speak unless given words from God to speak. This is best understood that general conversations from Ezekiel’s mouth was restricted to the judgement messages from God. In 24:27 Ezekiel’s speech is promised to return when the fugitive comes to him with the news about Jerusalem. The silence of speech would be an added sign of judgement and the restored speech may indicate a sign of restoration to come.

New Testament insights

Read John 2:13-25 – especially verses 18-22. Jesus was angry at the misuse of the temple and taught that this temple needed to be rebuilt. He gave a sign to tear down the temple and he will rebuild it in three days. A couple of links with the Ezekiel passage are: a) the misuse of the temple even while the people thought highly of it, b) the passion of Jesus to cleanse the temple of its evil practices, c) the solution for Jesus was to see the temple torn down, d) the further instruction is for restoration. The difference is that Jesus was talking about his own body – God’s dwelling place – and that he spoke of the resurrection. Jesus would certainly undergo God’s wrath before the temple (his body) was rebuilt (the resurrection).


The judgement of God cannot be avoided. It will come and everything we hold dear and precious will be taken from us. What the people of God need is not more time to reform but a total demolition and rebuild.


  • The people of God did not hold dearly what God holds dearly: the covenant of relationship between God and Israel. They were delighted in the temple building, in their sons and daughters and their city but neglected the first priority which is to God. We can prioritise the good things in this life to the extent that God is overlooked and abandoned in our hearts. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. Then love your neighbour as yourself. The Christian way is not “family first” – it is “God first” and this is the best for our families.
  • There is a worse fate than death. It is to live without glorifying God.
  • In all my blessings I will give thanks to God. In all my grief I will acknowledge the Sovereignty and love of God.

Prayer for the week

Sovereign LORD, may we never hold so tightly to the things of this world that we might resent knowing you. May we know you fully and trust you with everything that we hold dear. Amen.


Does God really listen?


In Luke 18:1-8, we are told that Jesus gave an illustration of a woman bothering a grumpy and selfish judge until the judge finally gave her what she needed. He told this story so that we would learn to pray to God and keep on praying!

Does this mean that we are meant to be ‘God botherers’?

Is God actually bothered by our requests? Are we right in bringing our problems to him? Or does he want to be left alone and work out our own problems?

The question about whether God really listens can be rather, should we bother with prayer?


Before continuing to answer this question, it is worth looking at the context of Luke 18:1-8. The previous chapter began with a story of ten lepors who all came to Jesus with a request (a prayer if you like) to be healed. All ten were healed but only one returned giving praise to God. Jesus recognised this one man out of ten as having faith.

Then chapter seventeen continues with Jesus describing what it will be like when the Son of Man comes. He compares that day with the day of Sodom and Gomorra’s destruction and with the day that Noah boarded the ark! It will be a day of judgement.

It is in the context of this subject that the story of the persistant widow is given. Note in verse 8 that Jesus asks whether faith will be found when the Son of Man comes. The two previous accounts are feeding two strong subjects into this widow’s story 1) Faith and 2) the day of judgement.

The next story starting at verse 9 is just as important. It compares two type of prayers. One from a Pharisee who believes he is God’s gift to the world. The second is a tax collector who comes to God in humility and repentance. Jesus declares that the latter will return justified before God.

This allows us to see that the story of the widow is not simply a message to pray because Jesus says to. We notice that the widow has come in desperation to the local judge – only because he is the only person who can help her. She needs what only he can give. The widow’s story teaches us that, in light of the coming judgement, we need to see our need and the only One who can supply it. We need to come to the judge for help. Like the faith of the tenth lepor, Jesus wonders whether he will find us praying when he returns (verse 8).


1) Prayer is expected – verse 1

Nowhere in the bible are we told to begin praying. It is expected right from the opening story of the scriptures. Man and God were in communication with each other right at creation. Before the woman was created, man spoke with God. But God’s image bearer hid from God’s sight after the Fall. Sin removed the natural position of prayer.

Prayer was not stopped, it only became harder.

But we are told time and time again that God heard the cries of his people (Gen 21:17; 25:21; 30:17; Ex 2:24;16:12; 23:13; Deut 23:5; 26:7-9; Jdg 13:8-9; 2 Sam 22 esp v7; Psalm 18; 2 Chr 30:27; 33:10-13; Psalm 54:2; 55:1; 61:1; 66:17-20; 78:56-61; 84:8; Isa 38:4-8; Jer 31:18-20; Dan 9:19; 10:12; Acts 4:30-31; 2 Cor 6:2) and he even hears his ridicule too (2 Kings 19; Isa37:4).

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the weren’t asking what prayer was or whether it was necessary, but how to do it! They were impressed by Jesus persistence and dedication to it.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells us to pray and not to stop praying. Two reasons can be given for this which together, are the most wonderful things ever known. Firstly that God is able to do anything he chooses. He is the sovereign Lord of all. Later in chapter 18, the disciples will ask Jesus how on earth anybody can possibly enter God’s kingdom. Jesus tells them that it is impossible for man, but nothing is impossible for God! Isaiah 46 is a beautiful chapter on exactly how powerful and in control God is. “I am God and there is no other, and I will do all that I please.”

This on it’s own is important news but it is not wonderful unless combined with the next truth: God cares about his people! He has demonstrated that care for us in sending his one and only son in the world to die in our place! Does God care? Of course he does. This is the greatest chasm between the judge in the story and our ultimate judge. The latter cares! And he cares about true justice and righteousness. God can do anything and he cares for you! How wonderful is that news!!!

Prayer is expected. A relationship with our creator was always a priority to him and sin has not stopped God relating with us. He has done away with that obstacle so that we can talk to him.

But what shall we talk to him about in prayer?

2) Prayer is at the heart of salvation – vv2-7

We can bring anything to our God in prayer, but before we do, there is one request we must bring to him and must never be far from our minds: to be saved!

The woman in the story was not bothering the judge for a tablespoon of sugar! She was desperate to get his attention to seek justice. The woman needed to get an answer from the judge and she persisted in this prayer with him.

What is our greatest need? There are some very big issues that plague us. Some of us are burdened with sickness or some misery or hardship. Some have unrelenting addictions. Chronic pain. Relentless depression. All of these are real and can be brought to God in prayer.

But our greatest need is forgiveness. It is easy to forget that. Remember the paralytic man that was brought to Jesus, and when Jesus saw him he told him that his sins are forgiven? And then he healed him of his useless legs only to prove that he CAN forgive sins! Our sins need dealing with first and foremost. This is part of our life of faith: knowing by faith that our greatest need is to be made right with God and then knowing that Jesus can make that happen.

At the heart of prayer, there is a need to be saved. To be rescued from our greatest enemy – sin and death.

When Jesus returns or he calls us home, all of our pain and sorrow will be stripped away. If we have not come to God in repentance – truly sorry and crying out for help – then we treat God more like a wish-bone or a dandelion that the sovereign God and judge.

God can do anything and he cares. But our greatest need is forgiveness. God is not bothered by our requests for that. He has worked hard and long and patiently and deliberately so that he can tell you that it is done. What is impossible for man has been done for us by the Son of God.

God expects that when we pray, when we pray, our desire will be first and foremost to be part of his kingdom. Once that has occured to us, then everything else we talk to God about will be effected by his kingdom.

3) Prayer is faith speaking – verse 8

Jesus was pleased to see that tenth lepor giving praises to God for the healing that he had received. The other nine were shallow and quickly forgot all the heartache they had been through – that they were clean was all that they cared about. The tenth remembered who had brought this salvation to his life. Jesus was pleased to see faith demonstrated in this man. While he didn’t see God, he praised him. While the healing came from a man of Nazareth, he knew that God had made that happen.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Will he find people bringing their desperate need of salvation to him in prayer and hearing the songs of praise as faith sings out the victory song? God will deliver all those who cry out to him in faith.

But what should we do with our smaller requests? Is God only interested in our salvation and not in our daily anxieties?

God cares and we are told in 1 Peter 5:8 to throw all of our anxieties on him because he does care. This too is an act of faith. Handing our stresses and nervousness over to an unseen God.

Paul, who wrote half of the NT, brought a concern to God in prayer. He described his problem as a thorn in his flesh. He asked God three times to take it away. He persisted to some degree. Did God hear his prayer? Did God really listen?

The thorn was not taken away. God did not change the circumstances that Paul was in. Although Paul was left in the same physical state as before he prayed, God did change something: he changed Paul. God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul saw even clearer, through this hardship, that God knew what he was doing. And that the gift of the kingdom was sufficient for Paul.

Some good Christians will say that God always answers prayer: he says either yes, no or not yet. This is a true statement. I don’t find it at all comforting though. I’d rather hear the answer that God always listens to a person who needs him. It’s not that our prayers need to be sincere enough. It’s that when we speak with Him – the one who gave us life – seek first the kingdom of heaven, and his righteousness, and you will know what it means that his grace is sufficient for you.