Judgment in America
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Michell County
“Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness; And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord God of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein. And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 12:18-20)
The judgment of God is expressed in various ways throughout the Scriptures. Sadly, it is the believing community that misses the message being delivered as so often those who understand themselves to be the ‘chosen ones’ are distracted by the sins of others and miss the Truth aimed squarely at them (us?).
In these prophetic words of Ezekiel come familiar descriptions of contemporary circumstances. Anxiety is high as people wonder what the trials and tribulations mean and how long things like civil unrest, disease outbreaks, and political upheaval will be the order of the day.
Read carefully, the prophetic declarations of Ezekiel could well be a prescription for all believers amid our anxiety.
First, the examination of life’s realities gives evidence of the problem. The message here is delivered to the people of God and the message is clear that those who claimed exclusive access to the blessings of God are also most subject to the judgment of God. The eating and drinking with carefulness speak to the need for people to give careful attention to the satisfaction of our ‘appetites’ at the expense of others.
Secondly, pay close attention to the activity that precipitated the judgment. ‘The violence of all of them that dwell within’ is addressed NOT to the enemies of God from without, but to the enemies of God within. The temptation to respond to the activities that threaten the stability of our lives with violence is the subject matter here. The implication is clearly that WE are the ones who have brought this divine judgment upon ourselves and this leads to the destruction and desolation of all we hold dear, such as institutions and expectations. The Hebrew word translated as violence literally means wrong, by unjust gain, cruelty, damage, and even includes ideas such as injustice, oppressor, and unrighteousness. It would be wonderful to point fingers at others here, but in all honesty, we simply cannot.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly is the description of the results of judgment visited upon the people of God, namely destruction of the inhabited cities and desolate, land conditions that are “dreadful”. Fires, floods, droughts, and assorted other calamities being labeled as ‘climate change’ are quite possibly more aptly to be understood as the judgment of the Living God.
As heavy as all of this feels, there is redemptive purpose in suffering. And it is spelled out for us in these words, “…and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (v. 20)
Yes, times are hard as we make our way through the long and difficult days of the pandemic. Perhaps we might all benefit from leaning into the message of this text, realizing its truth in our own living and then learning through God’s judgment that it is God alone Who rules and reigns. It is God alone Who wants all humanity to receive the gift of knowledge that God is the Lord.
In the midst of this season of suffering, let us find our voice to accept the responsibility of our sinfulness and to cry out to God for forgiveness. And let us return to our proper understanding of our God, our Maker, Redeemer, and Friend! And let us give thanks unto the Lord with hearts of deepest gratitude for the mercy and grace found in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good news from Jody HERE.