God’s Charges against a Corrupt Society

KEY VERSE: “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” —Ezekiel 22:30

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 22:3, 4, 23-31

EZEKIEL’S words indict Israel for a great list of transgressions. The people whom he called out of Egypt to be a light unto the nations were now, a few centuries later, “a reproach to the nations” (Ezek. 22:4), and God was dealing with them as an example of what happens when a people forget their destiny and purpose. The Lord looked for a man to stand against the tide of evil, because he longed to spare the nation. But he found no such man. The faithful prophet, Jeremiah, might have seemed a likely one, but he was despised and rejected, and his courageous warnings went unheeded.

Ezekiel 22:31 reads: “Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath.” The anger of Jehovah as it is expressed in his Word, is a subject greatly misunderstood by mankind, and, as a result, God’s character has been grossly misrepresented. As his wrath relates to the fall of man it is generally believed that when he made Adam perfect and upright, placing him in the Garden of Eden, God had only good and benevolent designs for his future welfare. But when Adam sinned, the claim is made that God, in his anger, developed a spirit of malice and bitterness toward humankind that pursued them even beyond the death sentence he imposed—that beyond the tomb he continued their lives in a place of everlasting punishment, and Adam has been kept in torture for over six thousand years, joined by his unsaved posterity born in sin and shapen in iniquity.

It is preposterous to assume God’s justice would require such a penalty. That our Heavenly Father had become so angry about sin he would forever torment his own children is a dark nightmare conjured up by those who are ignorant of what the Scriptures really teach concerning God’s wrath and the penalty for sin.

When we think of an angry God, we look to his general character and nature in order to learn what effect anger would have on him, and how he would deal with those with whom he might be angry. When we come to know Jehovah’s character—that he is love, very pitiful and of tender mercy, and that justice is the foundation of his throne—it assures us that all of his dealings must be in harmony with these elements of his character. Thus we see that though it is repeatedly expressed in the Scriptures that God is angry with the wicked, yet his anger is not the anger of injustice or malice, but an anger, displeasure, or opposition inspired by the love of right and love for the creature which is injured by wrong and sin.

Again we glance at God’s dealings with our father, Adam. God placed him on trial with the very simple arrangement that if he lived in obedience to his Maker he might live forever; and if he disobeyed he should die—lose his life and all right to it. How just this arrangement! God gave him life, and certainly had not only the power but the right to withdraw the life and allow man to become extinct, “as though he had not been.” (Job 10:19) This would be a reasonable punishment, yet a great loss, as Adam found when, after enjoying life for a season, by a dying process he finally lost it. Love could agree to this verdict of justice because a life out of harmony with God must bring ever-increasing trouble on the man and on his descendants.

While God was unable to find a man in Israel “that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap” (Ezek. 22:30), yet, in his greater plan for all mankind who are no better than Israel, he has provided such a man—a man in whom all fullness of perfection dwelt, a man who could stand in Adam’s stead, and in giving his life could lead all from the grave and whosoever will back to God.

What a blessed relief to awaken to this grand prospect and see, as we do, the justice and love displayed in the anger of the Lord—how all men were justly consigned to the state of death (sheol and hades, improperly translated hell in the Bible), and that because love has redeemed all, therefore all shall come back into life again.—Rom. 5:18,19

How blessed to think of such a God, whose justice and love had been exemplified in both our condemnation and redemption.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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