TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 21–22
Anger is part of God’s nature—He is just slow to get there. There are some things so intolerable to God that He is committed to eradicating them, and wrath is the energy of God that removes anything wicked from His presence. God could not be good if He let what is bad endure and thrive; thus, the holy goodness of God is the source and justification for His fiery anger. When Jehovah said to His people, “I…will blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted…then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you” (Eze. 22:21–22), it is a revelation of His goodness. We know the Lord both by His tender mercy and by His wrathful judgments. God could not be good if He did not get angry.
The reality that God’s judgment of covenant-breaking Israel included Him making them a reproach to all nations and a mockery to all countries indicates the nature of their sin (v. 4). A big God redeemed little Israel in order to be a light to all nations. Their failure to live in a way that honored God and broadcast His glories to all peoples was so grievous it invoked the fiery anger of God. It is no small thing for the people of God in any age to live in such a way that God is dishonored. Dishonoring God at home means He will not use us to spread His fame among the nations. Because we were created to make Him famous among all peoples, dishonoring Him at home is dishonoring Him abroad which is wicked and incurs appropriate wrath.
Zedekiah made an alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon and evidently Ammon (present day Jordan) joined in. Ezekiel prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would punish both nations, and it was somewhat arbitrary which one is crushed first. Ezekiel’s point was that the day of judgment came for both (Israel in 21:25, Ammon in v. 29), and that nothing would remain the same: All was overthrown “until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him” (vv. 26 –27). All nations will be judged—some for not sending missionaries, some for not receiving them. Ezekiel was missionary both in his prophecies about appropriate angry judgment and anticipatory joy about the Messiah, the joy of all nations, who will one day take His rightful place. He was missionary because both dilemma and deliverance were/are centered on the glory of God among the nations.
God’s anger is a last resort. Ezekiel warned that prophet, priest, and prince have all failed. He even said there was no person to stand in the gap at all which was why God consumed with the fire of His wrath (22:30–31). Inversely then, if God finds someone to contend for His purposes in the land, there is hope of judgment averted. The missionary church is the only hope for the pagan nation– both sending and receiving. When we stand in the gap contending for the glory of God among all peoples, God withholds wrath on our own nation and on the nation in which we proclaim. How ironic that the world is only preserved from wrath because of God’s missionary people, yet God’s missionary people are not welcome in the very lands that by their fidelity they preserve.