“And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”
Now, the context behind this verse is critical. What is happening in Ezekiel Chapter Six is God is talking about His judgment upon His people for their idolatry, for the way they’ve run after other gods, how they have worshiped other gods. They’ve turned aside from the one true God, and God is talking about judgment coming upon them. It’s sobering pictures of God’s judgment; really, all throughout Ezekiel. That word just keeps coming to my mind; it’s just so sobering. It’s humbling. It’s serious to realize the seriousness of sin, the severity of sin, and its consequences.
The Scriptures show a serious picture of judgment, but this judgment is not in vain. In the midst of hardship, God has a unique purpose for discipline.
We quote Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” The payment for sin is eternal judgment, and we’re seeing that judgment play out here in Ezekiel 6. But what He says here, what God says in Ezekiel 6:10, “They shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this to them.” So even in God’s judgment, hear this, even in God’s judgment and the consequences of sin that God’s people are experiencing, God is not doing that in vain. He is not showing His judgment. He is not carrying out His judgment in vain. He has a purpose, even in discipline.
I think about a conversation that Heather and I had with one of our kids recently about sin and consequences. This is a conversation that any parent is familiar with, or anyone who has carried out discipline in some way, where we say, “Okay, there are consequences to doing this, and as I give you these consequences, as you’re not able to do these things now as a result of what you’ve done, it is because this discipline is not in vain.” Like it’s not just to give consequences, there’s a purpose behind it. There’s a purpose to show that what you have done, what the people of Israel had done in Ezekiel 6, was horribly wrong and not good, dishonoring to God that leads away from life, and God loves us and God wants us to experience life. This is why Hebrews 12 talks about how God disciplines us as a Father for our good out of His love for us.
So as we read Ezekiel 6:10, we praise you for your holiness, for your justice, for your righteousness, for your hatred of sin. God, we praise you for your hatred of sin and your justice that you don’t turn a blind eye towards sin. You’re righteousness. You’re perfection. You’re purity. You are so unlike us. You are holy holy, holy, and we confess we are sinners. We dishonor you with thoughts, with words, with actions, with deeds. We dishonor one another. We are prone, even in Ezekiel 6 kind of way, to turn aside from you to other gods, to establish idols in our lives. So we praise you for your love for us; that you discipline us in our sin; that you remind us how sin is not good, how sin leads to death, and you remind us in the gospel. Now, this is what you’ve saved us from. Jesus, we praise you for saving us from sin, so we pray in a fresh way today, help us to live in the life that you’ve created us to live, a life of obedience to you, enjoying your word, enjoying fellowship with you, walking with you, and honor for you and love for you and love for others, and honor of others. God, we want to live that life.
So when we stray, Oh God, pull us back in your loving discipline. Pull us back. Convict us of sin. Help us to see how horrible sin is, how good you are and to live in obedience to you that we might walk in your goodness. All toward the end, Ezekiel 6:10, that we might know you are the Lord and know you as our Lord. We want to know you more and more every day, so pull us away from sin, we pray; from veering away from you. Don’t let us do that, God, we pray. Pull us continually into deeper and deeper intimacy with you, knowledge of you, and enjoyment of you. We pray for that today in Jesus’ name. Amen.