“And they shall return your lewdness upon you and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry and you shall know that I am the Lord God.”
So this is the last verse in a long chapter that depicts God’s people as two women, one who represents Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel among God’s people, and the other who represents Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah, God’s people there. The whole chapter describes how God showed his judgment, how God showed his judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel and Samaria by delivering them over to the Assyrians, and then how God showed his judgment among the southern kingdom, his people in Judah, specifically the capital of Jerusalem, by delivering them over to the Babylonians.
Then you get to the very end of the chapter and God just says very clearly, very plainly after 48 verses of this depiction of women who have committed adultery, who have committed idolatry as God’s people, at the very end God says, “You shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry. You shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry.” As you hear that phrase, I just think this is a simple principle. I think about, without going into details, a discipline conversation that Heather and I were having with one of our children recently, and we’ve had this conversation a million times it seems like with different children. When you disobey, there will be consequences. It is not good to disobey. It is good to obey. That leads to good things. When you disobey, that leads to bad things. That’s the clear, simple principle that God is saying over and over again in the book of Ezekiel and He says it right here. “You shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry.” Idolatry is not good. It does not lead to good. Immorality, disobedience is not good. It does not lead to good.
This seems so basic, yet how often do we need to be reminded of this as we are tempted every day to disobey in different ways? And God says to us in his word, by his spirit over and over and over again, it is good to obey. It is not good to disobey. So in a fresh way today, Oh God, we pray. Help us to choose that which is good today. Lord, if we’re listening to this as we’re going to bed at night, help us to wake up in the morning remembering that it’s good to obey. If we’re listening to this at the very beginning of our day or somewhere else, as long as we have time left in this day, God, help us to choose that which is good. Help us to obey you. Help us to trust you. Help us to worship you alone. God, please keep us from idolatry, immorality, disobedience, and all that flows from it today and tomorrow and the next day. Help us to choose obedience in every second and every moment and every decision and every word and everything we do. By your grace, Oh God, help us to choose obedience and to experience your goodness.
God, even as we pray this, we know our tendency to disobey and we are so thankful. Jesus, we praise you ultimately for bearing the penalty due our sinful idolatry. Oh, help us never to get over this, that you, Jesus, have paid the price, endured the penalty, the judgment that we deserve for our sin on the cross. All glory be to your name that we don’t have to be afraid of the judgment we will experience ultimately in eternity because you have paid that price for us. All glory be to your name. So all the more help us to live in obedience today. Help us to experience your goodness today as those who have been forgiven of sin, freed from sin’s power. Help us to walk in worship of you, in obedience to you, in love for you in all that we do. Help us to choose obedience, life, love for you in everything we do today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Please, in every moment, we pray in Jesus’s name, in the name of the one who has paid the penalty of sin for us. In His name we pray. Amen.