At the same time Jeremiah was prophesying in Jerusalem, Ezekiel was in the land of the Chaldeans as part of the first exiles from Judah to Babylon. He was also prophesying to the people in that land. Their prophecies were the same and even travelled back and forth from Jerusalem and Babylon. Both were prophesying doom on Israel and Judah. But in those proclamations of doom, God also gave many calls to repentance. Through Ezekiel, we see God calling out to His people to turn from their evil ways and He would give them mercy.
Ezekiel 18:21–23 (NKJV) — 21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
God says that if a wicked man turns from all his sin and turns to the Lord, he will not die. None of his sin will be remembered against him. Because he has done righteously in following the Lord, His sins will all be wiped clean. God wants to have mercy. God says He has no pleasure in punishing the wicked. But God also says that we shouldn’t be fooled by thinking we are righteous all by ourselves because we “do good”.
Ezekiel 18:24 (NKJV) — 24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
If a man thinks he is righteous but turns and commits sin, he will be held responsible for that sin. God is not saying that if someone stumbles into sin that they are suddenly condemned. He is saying that a person who looks to God in faith is righteous because of God’s righteousness. But, if a person turns away from God and wants to live a life of sin, he is not righteous and will die the death of the wicked. God explains this a little more to Ezekiel and the people later.
Ezekiel 33:13 (NKJV) — 13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die.
There it is. There is the answer. When a man trusts in his own righteousness, he will fall. We are born sinners. We don’t have any righteousness in us. But God says just before this,
Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJV) — 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
If God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but wants us to turn and live, but we have no righteousness in us, then how can we turn and live? The answer is only found in Jesus. The answer is in not trusting in our own righteousness, but in His righteousness.
Romans 3:21–26 (NKJV) — 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
All have sinned and are falling short of the Glory of God (we have no righteousness in us). But, the righteousness of God has been revealed in Jesus. And this righteousness is enough for us all. Jesus was the propitiation or the payment for our sins. His death payed the price for all our sin. Jesus is just but He is also our justifier if we have faith in Him. This means that Jesus makes us righteous and all that is required is faith. By believing and following Jesus in faith, we are saved. We are born again. Our sins are washed from us and we will not be held accountable for them. Simply put…Jesus saves!
In His Service, Scott
This Week’s Reading Plan:
- Day 1 – Ezekiel 34-36
- Day 2 – Ezekiel 37-39
- Day 3 – Ezekiel 40-42
- Day 4 – Ezekiel 43-45
- Day 5 – Ezekiel 46-48
- Day 6 – Daniel 1-3
- Day 7 – Daniel 4-6