“Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘As the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 7 and I set My face against them. Though they have come out of the fire, yet the fire will consume them. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I set My face against them,’” (15:6-7).
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. He had set His face against His people with such disapproving anger that even if they had escaped the fire of His judgment in Jerusalem, still they were destined to be consumed by calamity.
Why? His people acted unfaithfully.
“Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have acted unfaithfully,’” declares the Lord God, (15:8).
And so unfaithful that they were deemed totally unfit for God’s purposes, as God compares the wood of the vine, Israel, to the wood among the trees of the forest, the surrounding idolatrous nations. They were no different than the pagans and fit only for destruction by fire.
“Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any wood of a branch which is among the trees of the forest? 3 Can wood be taken from it to make anything, or can men take a peg from it on which to hang any vessel? 4 If it has been put into the fire for fuel, and the fire has consumed both of its ends and its middle part has been charred, is it then useful for anything? 5 Behold, while it is intact, it is not made into anything. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it still be made into anything!” (15:2-5).
If they refused to be shaped by the Hands of God for His purposes before they fell under His Inescapable Judgment, would there be any hope for their future? For in reality, they were worse than the pagans. They had been chosen by God to be His people, and they had been richly supplied with the Word of God sent through His prophets; but still, they had acted unfaithfully. No wonder He was done.
And while their own actions were ushering in His Inescapable Judgment, there was His Why behind it all. And to consider this we must go back a chapter to take into account the context; for while chapter and verse divisions are helpful in our study, they are not inspired and sometimes can separate content that should be studied together.
“When the books of the Bible were originally written, they did not contain chapter or verse references. The Bible was divided into chapters and verses to help us find Scriptures more quickly and easily. It is much easier to find “John chapter 3, verse 16” than it is to find “for God so loved the world…” In a few places, chapter breaks are poorly placed and as a result divide content that should flow together. Overall, though, the chapter and verse divisions are very helpful.
The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.
The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.”
And today’s short chapter of only eight verses seems so harsh. And I will be the first to admit I would rather consider His Grace than His Judgment. But as we look back at what preceded His declaration in setting His face against Jerusalem and pronouncing His coming wrath, we will see His Grace in His intended outcome of His Inescapable Judgment, meant to bring Inescapable Restoration to His people.
Consider His Inescapable Judgment
His Inescapable Judgment is meant to lay hold of and capture hearts that are estranged from Him through idolatry.
“Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, 5 in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”’ (Ezekiel 14:4-5).
lay hold of: “8610. תָּפַשׂ tāp̱aś: A verb meaning to lay hold of, to seize; to capture; to wield. It basically means to seize, to get possession of…” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
His Judgment is Inescapable, but He will leave survivors whose hearts have been captured and lives have been changed. And through their captured hearts and changed lives, their conduct will bring comfort to God’s prophet, to know that all the Lord did was not done in vain; and therefore all of Ezekiel’s preaching was not done in vain either.
“Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. 23 Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord God, (Ezekiel 14:22-23).
How do we respond to His Inescapable Judgment?
Scripture tells us His Inescapable Judgment is appointed for all. Those who have trusted Christ for salvation will see Him in His appearing and be taken with Him to our eternal salvation in Heaven.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him, (Hebrews 9:27-28).
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord, (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
But those who have rejected His offer of grace will stand before Holy God to be judged for their own merits in everything they have ever said, thought, and done. And if they are not named as His own through faith in Christ Who was judged in our place, they will face His Inescapable Judgment and thrown into the lake of fire.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, (Revelation 20:11-12, 15).
The lake of fire. In other words, hell. Hell. It’s not a popular subject. But Jesus spoke of the reality of hell as a real place. He also told us that hell was not created for people, rather it is the place that was prepared for the devil and his angels.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels,’” (Matthew 25:41).
For it is not the Father’s heart to condemn any to hell; and He went to great lengths that we would be spared His Inescapable Judgment.
He gave His Son to suffer an excruciating death that we would not be condemned.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,” (John 3:16-17).
The Son gave Himself that we would be ransomed.
…God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all… (1 Timothy 2:3-5).
And in His patience, he waits that we might come to repentance and escape His Inescapable Judgment.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9).
Hell. It is such a distasteful topic. And when we don’t recognize the absolute holiness of God and the utter sinfulness of men, when we don’t realize that because God is Holy, He will judge sin, we will attempt to Whitewash the truth of hell with a God that is just too kind to do such a thing. But if we are paying attention to His Word, we will have the good sense to shudder, and the good sense to take Him at His Word.
He is gracious and He is merciful. And He made the way that we would be justly forgiven, that our sin would be judged on the cross of Christ so that we would escape His Inescapable Judgment.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (Galatians 1:3-4).
Today, I pray we grow in our understanding of His grace in His Inescapable Judgment. Sin must be judged, and in Christ it is so. And all who have trusted Him as the payment for their sin will be given His gift of eternal life in Christ.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).
I pray that you are certain of your eternal salvation through faith in Christ, and resting in the security that you will be spared His Inescapable Judgment. If you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For it is only as we trust in what Christ has done for us that will we be saved and spared from His Inescapable Judgment.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1).