God gives Ezekiel a series of messages to make the people aware of their sins.
Ezekiel Chapter 22
Lessons from the text
God’s Chastisement Perhaps you have heard people complain about how God has mistreated them or that God is unfair. Perhaps you have even felt like God is fighting against you. This chapter addresses once again the notion that God’s judgment is designed to purify a person from sin (see Isaiah 4:4 for another instance). While it may feel like God is trying to destroy you in His anger, it is essential to remember that God is angry at your sin and not you. God loves you, but He despises your sin. When God’s judgment enters your life, God is not judging you because He hates you; He is judging you because He wants you to realize that there is sin in your life that must be eradicated. God’s judgment may appear in a Christian’s life. Yet again, this is merely God getting your attention to let you know that there is sin in your life; it does not mean that God loves you any less or has turned against you. God desires your well-being, and so He sends judgments to make you turn from that which will harm you and turn to that which gives eternal life, which is the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 2:7).
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 To judge is to declare right from wrong. See Ezekiel 20:4.
2-5 Jerusalem has shed blood on two accounts; it has failed to deliver the righteous, even going so far as to kill a prophet of God, and it has sacrificed its young to idols (Jer. 19:5, 32:35, 26:21-23). The consequences for these murders is its own destruction. Sin only brings about death in one’s life.
7-8 God expounds on some of the sins of the Jews; they have murdered children, oppressed the foreigners that entered the land, and taken advantage of the widows and fatherless. These actions demonstrate how the people despise God’s ways. Jesus said that if a person loves Him, that person will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15). To fail to keep the commandments shows that a person does not love God. These Jews not only failed to obey the commandments but also they added idols to the holy temple, thus defiling what should have been sacred (Eze. 8:5-16).
9 To carry tales to shed blood are lies to have people executed as criminals. The Jewish law states that a matter will be settled if two witnesses agree; if two men conspired to bear false witness against an innocent man, they could have that man put to death for a crime he did not commit. The execution of innocent men would not have occurred if the priests were fulfilling their duty of diligently inquiring to make sure that the witness spoken was true. See Deuteronomy 19:15-19.
10-11 Women on their menstrual cycles were to be set apart from the rest of the people because their blood made them unclean (Lev. 15:19-24). The men of Judah were neglecting this and having relations with women during their menstrual cycle. The men were also having unholy relations by committing adultery and incest.
12 In addition to lying to get someone executed (v. 9), the people have brought gifts to, which means to bribe, the judges and priests so that they will execute innocent men. Furthermore, instead of lending without usury, the people have forced those less fortunate into debt and blatantly taken from them through deception or by force (see Deut. 23:19). This level of corruption is explained by the fact that the people have forgotten God; without the knowledge of God, a person loses bearing on what counts as good and evil and inevitable falls into corruption and sin.
13-15 God is angry at the corruption of the Jews. He desires men to further justice, truth, and goodness. Since the people have sought dishonesty, murder, and unholy sexual relations, God will scatter them throughout the nations until He purges them from their sins. Noteworthy is the thought that without righteousness, a person’s emotional and physical strength is lessened. As God is the supplier of strength, if one turns from Him one will be weakened and unable to accomplish mighty things. Even if by the world’s standards one appears to prosper, inwardly that person will be frail and unsuccessful, for success is measured by accomplishments of righteousness and not by monetary gains.
16 The Jew’s inheritance is the land of Canaan. Because of their sins, the people have lost the right to the land that was promised to them.
17-22 Dross is the impurities found in metals and minerals. To remove dross, one heats the substance in a furnace so that the dross rises to the top where it can be removed. By using this analogy, God is making it clear that He is pouring out His wrath to purify the Jews, not to destroy them. For those in a covenant with God, God’s wrath is directed at a person’s sin and not at the person; God is desiring to remove the sin out of a person’s life rather than destroy the person.
23-31 God addresses each portion of the ruling class. Instead of leading the people to righteousness by their examples, those in authority have abused their power and led the people into unrighteousness. The prophets have spoken falsely in God’s name to lead the people into sin; for instance, they have told the people to rebel against Babylon when God said to submit to Babylon (Jer. 27:8-11). The priests have not taught the people about God and His commandments but have instead themselves neglected the truth about God and taught the people to do likewise. The princes are interested only in monetary gain and will get it by whatever means necessary. As a result, the entire nation is in sin and must be punished. Noteworthy is the fact that even though the people have been led astray by their leaders, they are still responsible for their own sin; every person has a conscious that tells him the difference between right and wrong and therefore leads him to a knowledge of God, but if he neglects his conscious, then he is guilty for he has freely chosen to believe in lies rather than in truth.
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