The Shadow of Christ in Ezekiel
Ezekiel's prophetic message to Israel, and to the wicked nations around her, is quite sobering. The Lord speaks to His beloved people through Ezekiel's prophecy with severe warning of judgment saying,
"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations...around her...
"Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of nations. Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again" (Ezek. 5:5-6, 8, 9).
Yes, God's people rejected Him and His laws. They became worse than the nations around them. Of course, the nations were also wicked deserving God's judgment. The LORD has dealt with them justly as well.
The Sovereign LORD is indeed faithful and loving. He will save His own. But He is also holy and just. He will not let the guilty unpunished.
"So how can [God] forgive the guilty and still be just?" asks one Bible commentator. "Ezekiel does not give us a very clear answer to that question...He knows that it is true, for God has revealed it to him, but he doesn't know how it can be true."
"But we...have a much clearer understanding," the same commentator adds. "How can God be just and still forgive the guilty? How can the fire pass over us and not completely burn us alive? It is only because it has already passed over Jesus and poured its heat out on him.
"The judgment that was to fall on Jerusalem for her sins was truly horrendous, so awful that few, a bare remnant of a remnant, would live to tell the tale. Yet it was nothing compared to the wrath of God that was poured out on his beloved Son on the cross for the sins of his people...But the result was that the wrath of God was exhausted on him; he has been avenged on sin, his wrath is spent (Ezek. 5:13).
"As a consequence, there is now no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). As Paul puts in in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10: 'For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.' The wrath of God came on him once and for all, so that it might not now or in the future have to fall on us, his people" (Iain M. Duguid, "Ezekiel: The NIV Application Commentary," 104).
Ezekiel's message contains both warnings of judgment and assurance of hope. Those who put their trust in God alone through His Son Jesus Christ shall know that mercy triumphs over judgment. Only those who take refuge in the Son of God shall come forth untouched by the whirlwind of God's coming wrath.