False hope and true hope: ezekiel 11

People everywhere are in denial. Many are convinced God won’t come in judgment. Others think that if he does, they’ll be okay. ‘On the whole I’ve lived a good life,’ they say, ‘I’ve never harmed anyone.’

False hope

Verses 1-4 bring more news from Jerusalem (Ezekiel does not return to Babylon until 11:24):

The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the Lord, which faces east. And behold, at the entrance of the gateway there were twenty-five men. And I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel in this city; who say, “The time is not near to build houses. This city is the cauldron, and we are the meat.” Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.’”

The leaders, Jaazaniah and Pelatiah, are reassuring the people. ‘We’ll be okay. Things will soon be back to normal with people building houses. We’re safe from the fire in the cooking pot.’

But things are not okay. The people are safe in the cooking pot, but not for long. Verses 6-10 record Ezekiel’s prophecy:

“You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgements upon you. You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

And as a foretaste of what is to come Jaazaniah and Pelatiah die as Ezekiel speaks.

Verse 13: “And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died.”

True hope

God destroys the false hope of the people. And so Ezekiel asks again (see 9:8) if this is the end. Is there no hope left?

“Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (v 13)

Hope for those without hope

All human hope is at an end. But there is hope in God. God will gather his people. He will accomplish a new exodus – bringing his people from bondage into the place of blessing.

Ezekiel 11:16-17 says: “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’”

How is this fulfilled? We find the answer in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Purpose for those without purpose

The restoration of God’s people is not an end in itself. What is its purpose?

Ezekiel 11:18-20 says: “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

How is this fulfilled? 1 Peter 2:9-12 reminds us.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,  which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Think about the phrase ‘an undivided heart’ (Ezekiel 11:19). What does it mean for you to have an undivided heart?

This is an extract from Explore, daily Bible reading notes published by our friends at The Good Book Company. Explore is published quarterly worldwide. Download the Explore App here, or purchase a copy from one of these Good Book Company online shops: UKUSAustraliaNew Zealand.

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Written by Tim Chester of The Porterbrook Network.

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