Through the prophet Ezekiel, God is announcing judgment upon the nation Israel, but it did not have to be that way. Israel had a special place in God’s plan for the world, “This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.” (Ezekiel 5:5). Israel was the nation chosen of God to be what Jesus later described as “the light of the world, a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14), a nation displaying the goodness and glory of God to all others. “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). With great privilege comes great responsibility, a quote attributed to Voltaire, FDR, and Spiderman, but Jesus said it first, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). Israel had been given much in order that by her conduct the world would know God.
That was one way, but there is another. To a nation that had spurned God’s blessing comes God’s judgment, “Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come; the day is near, a day of tumult, and not of joyful shouting on the mountains. Now I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations” (Ezekiel 7:7-8). The purpose of God remains the same, however. In chapters six and seven of Ezekiel, God speaks to the purpose of his judgment against Israel, that “they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13, 14; 7:4, 9, 27), a theme repeated over sixty times throughout the book of Ezekiel. One way or another, God will be known. One way is better.
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:16
My God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, Creator of all things, Owner of cattle on a thousand hills. Not a thousand cows, a thousand hills of cows. While I clutch the world’s trinkets, You offer Your treasures. The choice should really not be that difficult.
The greatest of all treasures, my God, is knowing You. May I cast aside all that entangles me, no matter how much it delights, if it stands in the way of knowing You. You, God, are my treasure.