What does it say?
It appears the elders were not impressed with Ezekiel’s message to them and the prophet now delivers a poetic image of a sword drawn against them (Eze 21). It is as though God prepared and sharpened this sword and put it in the hand of their enemy Nebuchadnezzar. He follows with another image of a map drawn on clay or the ground in which two roads come out of Babylon. One leads to Ammon and the other to Jerusalem. The Jews would assume of course that if Babylon stands at the fork in the road using pagan omens to determine which way to go, they would naturally go toward Ammon since the Jews considered them to be far more wicked. The message is that such would not be the case. God has determined to use Babylon to judge his people. Ammon, however, would also answer for their own sin in God’s time and God’s way.
Earlier in chapter 20, Ezekiel took the elders through a history lesson of Israel’s constant rebellions and God’s constant grace. Now, in chapter 22, Ezekiel makes it clear that this judgment is coming upon the nation specifically because of the sins of this present generation of inhabitants of Jerusalem. Specifically, they had sinned against God in the apostasy of their idolatrous ways, and they had also sinned against the people in their social injustices.
What does it mean?
These chapters bring Ezekiel’s message right to our current generation today. It does no good to speculate about past generations and what might have been as long as we are not willing to face up to our own guilt and shame. Fortunately, we have the complete and clear message of Jesus Christ that gives us immediate hope of forgiveness and restoration.
As we speak of sin, we should not only be willing to look at our individual lives, but at believers in community as the church. We should also be willing to consider not just our spiritual sins, but our societal sins as well.
How will I respond?
As I consider what I have seen in this reading, what are the specific individual sins in my personal life that I need to put under the grace of God? Realizing that God made me with a missional purpose, what missional sins might I need to confess today? I have a responsibility to those around me. Have I been faithful in that responsibility?