Exposition of Ezekiel (12): The Means of (Grace) Judgment
From Ezekiel chapter 11: Overview -
The Means of Judgment - Ezekiel 8-11 shows the cause of God’s judgment (ch. 8), the Detestable Idolatries (ch. 8) and the means of judgment. Before it was the men (ch. 9) and the altar fire (ch. 10) which destroy, now Ezekiel’s prophetic word (11:4) destroys the city. “And it was according ... to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city . . . like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar” (Ezek. 43:3). Ezekiel speaks the word of judgment, “I will drive you out of the city and hand you over to foreigners. . .You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD” (11:9ff).
The Means of Grace - The three means of judgment echo the means of grace (according to Reformation theology), the Word, Sacraments, and the Church (which prays and exercises gifts and graces). In Chapter 9, the “six men” (of 9:2) are like the “angels of the churches” (Rev. 1:20). The Church brings both glad tidings and judgment. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 2:15ff, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” In Ezek. 10, the sacrificial/altar coals destroy the city, like the sacraments (1 Pet. 3, 1 Cor. 11) which bring both judgment and salvation. In chapter 11, the very same judgment is rendered by the Word. The Word also has the restoration promise. God promises afterwards, “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (11:19).
Exhortations: False prophets did not recognize God’s judgment in the exile. They were making promises of quick victory. The true house of Israel is in exile but will be restored when the new covenant promise brings about Pentecost. Now the fire of God’s altar rests on the Church who go forth to preach the Word. Surely, we are in exile and yet empowered by the Spirit to live a new life which reclaims the fallen state of Adam and by which we may show forth the glory of God as priests, kings and prophets in His redemptive kingdom.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more
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