I once heard Dr. Jerry Falwell say, “I have never known God to use a discouraged person.” (Lou Nicholes in Ezekiel - The Exiled Prophet).
The design the elders of Israel was promoting among the people was that being scattered in various nations they should lay aside all their peculiarities and conform to those among whom they lived; but God had told them that this design should not be (v. 32). Now, in these verses, he shows particularly how it should be (vv. 33-44). When the Israelites disobeyed God by refusing to enter the Promised Land the first time God chose to purify the people by forcing them to wander in the wilderness until the entire generation died (Num. 14:26-36) In this passage He promised to purge the nation of its rebellious people again as they cross the vast wilderness from their captivity in Babylon (vv.33-36). The doom that is passed upon them is backed with an oath not to be reversed: “As I live, saith the Lord God” (v. 33), thus and thus will I deal with you. Only those who faithfully obeyed God would be able to return to their land. The purpose of this wilderness judgment was to purge all those who worshiped idols and to restore all those faithful to God.
The phrase “that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all” (v. 32) is an utterance that already looks into the future. First, their judgment at the hand of Babylon will be the means of stopping their idolatry. But it may also have reference to the future day when the Lord will rule with an iron hand, not allowing idolatry of any kind (v. 37). The Israelites had been worshiping idols and giving gifts at the same time (v. 39). They did not believe in their God as the one true God; instead they worshiped Him along with the other gods of the land. Ezekiel tells the elders that the fire of judgment is about to occur. It will be clearly evident that I the Lord have kindled it, and not merely an earthly power (v. 48). But the elders appear not to fully understand, perhaps deliberately so. Ezekiel was exasperated and discouraged (v. 49). Many Israelites were complaining that he spoke only in riddles so they refused to listen.
No matter how exciting my ministry may be I will have moments of discouragement. Instead of feeling like giving up when I become discouraged, I just need to continue doing what God has told me to do. God promises to reward the faithful (Mark 13:13). God’s cure for discouragement may be another assignment in serving others, and in that I may receive the renewal I need.
"As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols. "For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD." And the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, set your face toward the southland; preach against the south, and prophesy against the forest land in the Negeb. Say to the forest of the Negeb, Hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree. The blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it; it shall not be quenched." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! They are saying of me, 'Is he not a maker of parables?'"
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Ezekiel 17:1-24Two Eagles and the Vine
Ezekiel 18:1-18A False Proverb Refuted
Ezekiel 18:19-32Turn and Live
Ezekiel 19:1-14Israel Degraded
Ezekiel 20:1-16The Rebellions of Israel
Ezekiel 20:17-32Ezekiel Reinforces the Law
Ezekiel 20:33-49God Will Restore Israel
Ezekiel 21:1-7God’s Judgment Sword Drawn
Ezekiel 21:8-17The Sword Sharpened
Ezekiel 21:18-32The Instrument of God’s Judgment
Ezekiel 22:1-16Sins of Jerusalem
Ezekiel 22:17-22Israel in the Furnace
Ezekiel 22:23-31Israel’s Wicked Leaders
Ezekiel 23:1-21Two Harlot Sisters
Ezekiel 23:22-35Judgment on Jerusalem
Ezekiel 23:36-49Both Sisters Judged