Ezekiel 24 … Consider His Desire for Our Cleansing

“In your filthiness is lewdness.
Because I would have cleansed you,
Yet you are not clean,
You will not be cleansed from your filthiness again
Until I have spent My wrath on you,”

The exact date of the siege in Jerusalem is given to the prophet hundreds of miles away in Babylon. And there would be no dispute; Ezekiel was the prophet of God who spoke God’s Word; and His Word would come to pass.

And the word of the Lord came to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth of the month, saying, “Son of man, write the name of the day, this very day. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day, (24:1-2).

And now, He commands His prophet to speak a parable of what awaits His rebellious people, describing a boiling pot. Parables aren’t always easy to understand, especially for us when more than 2,600 years have passed. But the people of his day surely understood.

The pot was Jerusalem; and the false prophets had assured the people they would be protected and kept alive within her walls.

He said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give evil advice in this city, who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses. This city is the pot and we are the flesh,’” (Ezekiel 11:2-3).

But now the picture is painted, everyone in the pot, from the least to the greatest, are corrupt, so much so that even the pot itself has rusted with its shamelessly blatant impurities, with no inclination to conceal or mourn her sin.

“Woe to the bloody city,
To the pot in which there is rust
And whose rust has not gone out of it!
Take out of it piece after piece,
Without making a choice.
“For her blood is in her midst;
She placed it on the bare rock;
She did not pour it on the ground
To cover it with dust,”

And Holy God is Wholly over it. They’ve gone too far and now it is too late.

“She has wearied Me with toil,
Yet her great rust has not gone from her;
Let her rust be in the fire!
13 “In your filthiness is lewdness.
Because I would have cleansed you,
Yet you are not clean,
You will not be cleansed from your filthiness again
Until I have spent My wrath on you.
14 I, the Lord, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent, and I will not pity and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds I will judge you,” declares the Lord God,’”  (24:12-14).

There’s no denying that today’s chapter is shocking and distressing, especially with what follows: another prophecy from the Lord to His faithful prophet. Ezekiel’s wife, the desire of his eyes, would die, and Ezekiel was not to mourn.

 And the word of the Lord came to me saying, 16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. 17 Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.” 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded, (24:15-18).

And while the parable of the boiling pot was to be spoken, this time the prophet would have to obediently act out this very hard truth. For the people had trusted a place and not a Person. The reputation and glory of Jerusalem had become their greatest desire rather than the reputation and glory of the God of Israel. But it would be met with the fire of His wrath, and there would be no use crying now.

But even in this, we can hear His heart in just five words… “Because I would have cleansed you,” (24:13).

Their filthiness, their lewdness, their bloodguiltiness; all of that He “would have cleansed” before It was too late, but they were not willing.

And I find myself in this strange place between anguish and appreciation. Anguish for the outcome, but appreciation for His Desire for Our Cleansing.

Consider His Desire for Our Cleansing

Again we are reminded of what our time in the prophets has revealed about God. It is His Desire that we be Cleansed from our sins, that we might serve Him in unbroken fellowship. And He made the way for Our Cleansing through the atoning blood sacrifice in the Old Testament, a foreshadow of the eternal Cleansing we would receive through the blood of Jesus Christ.

for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord, (Leviticus 16:30).

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14).

How do we respond to His Desire for Our Cleansing?

I can’t get those words out of my mind, “Because I would have cleansed you.” And He would have. What stops Him? After our time in the prophets, the answer may be echoing loud and clear. Pride and unbelief.

What if, at the end of our lives, when it’s too late to mourn our decision, we were to hear Him say, “Because I would have cleansed you”? I shudder to even think about it. I hope you do too.

But while He Desires Our Cleansing, He does not force His Cleansing. We will only be cleansed when being cleansed becomes our desire.

…“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:30-31).

And when we believe, when we are saved, we are Cleansed by the washing and renewing work of His Holy Spirit.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus 3:5-6).

But even when we are saved, washed and renewed, we still sin against Holy God. And if we think we don’t, then we are deceiving ourselves. And because we still sin, we still need His Cleansing, every day.

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:8-9).

For truly what would be harder, to confess our sins or to hear Him ask why we were unwilling to humble ourselves in repentance; “Because I would have cleansed you”?

Oh, may we learn from the parable, that we would not wait for the pot to boil to recognize our sin. Let us instead haul ourselves to the altar, that we would bow before Him in broken repentance and gratitude for His Desire for Our Cleansing.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin…
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise,
(Psalm 51:1-2, 16-17).

Let’s Grow Together!

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