Ezekiel 20 has the prophet dealing yet again with the leaders of the exiles who come to him with questions. “Certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me”. God’s clear with him telling him not to waste his time answering their requests. God has no intention of answering them – there are much bigger fish to fry as the people had a false understanding of who God was and what He required of them. “I will not be inquired of by you….Make them know the abominations of their fathers”.
Wrong attitudes had been passed on from generation to generation, Ezekiel began to recall Israel’s history from the time the people were in Egypt. Even in Egypt they had been attracted to idols and had displayed the rebellion that was to characterize their long history. God could easily have destroyed the people then, but he held back. He did not want the Egyptians to misunderstand his actions and accuse him of evil. “Cast away, each of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt….But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me”.
Through grace, God saved His people from Egypt and clearly told them how to live rightly in His sight. “I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live”. And He gave them the Sabbath as a sign and rest day to demonstrate the covenant He made with them. But the rebelled again and “They did not walk in My statutes and they rejected My ordinances….My Sabbaths they greatly profaned”. Yet God remembered His promise and withheld his judgment. But that won’t continue forever.
God scattered His people among foreign nations as they continued to disobey and rebel against His Word. Many were killed through the process. But God never forgets His love for them, and gathers them back. “I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered….I will enter into judgment with you face to face….I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel”. God can’t ignore sin. But He also doesn’t forget His love for us. Thankfully, that’s true for us today as the love of Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross provides grace that will cover our sin and through repentance allow us to come into right standing with God!