I’ve recently been reading through the Book of Ezekiel during my devotions. It’s been some time since I’ve worked through this incredible book. Ezekiel was a Prophet and he “spoke to a community forced from its home, a people who had broken faith with their God. As the spokesman for the God of Israel, Ezekiel spoke oracles that vindicate the reputation of this holy God” (Preaching the Word Commentary)

When we arrive to chapter seven, Ezekiel is prophesying of the impending wrath that the nation of Israel will face. The whole chapter gives detail what this looks like:

[3] Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. (ESV)

[7] Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come; the day is near, a day of tumult, and not of joyful shouting on the mountains. [8] Now I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. (ESV)

[12] The time has come; the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is upon all their multitude. (ESV)

[22] I will turn my face from them, and they shall profane my treasured place. Robbers shall enter and profane it. [23] “Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. [24] I will bring the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. I will put an end to the pride of the strong, and their holy places shall be profaned. (ESV)

As you read through the chapter, you can see the gravity of Israel’s sin. God has had enough. Their wickedness cannot be tolerated any more. His wrath will be poured on them!

However, what’s interesting is three times the Lord says through Ezekiel, “and they shall know that I am the LORD” (7:4, 9, 27). It seems contradictory to find out who God really is by witnessing him pour out “disaster after disaster” (His words) on people He calls his children.

While it seems contradictory, we do learn who God is by seeing His wrath poured out on sin. What we learn is that God is holy and man is not and because of God’s holiness, sin, if it is not repented of, must be punished. It cannot be tolerated. When we see God’s wrath displayed in chapter seven, we are repulsed. Why? As R.C. Sproul states in his classic work The Holiness of God, “We tend to have mixed feelings about the holy. There is a sense in which we are at the same time attracted to it and repulsed by it. Something draws us toward it, while at the same time we want to run away from it.” He continues, “Sinful people are not comfortable in the presence of the holy”.

What makes Ezekiel 7 off-putting is not that God is pouring out his wrath on sin, but it is that we know our sin deserves to face a wrath-bearing God. We are inherently sinful. We were beautifully made in the image of God, but sin has corrupted out hearts and we have completely rebelled against the Creator. Because of our sin, we cannot stand before a Holy God. Sin repulses him. And there is no way we can enter into the presence of a holy God while we are covered in our sin. What we deserve is God’s wrath violently poured out on us. And because God is holy, his wrath towards sinners is just.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  (Romans 1:18)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

The tragedy in all of this is that we cannot save ourselves. We deserve the wrath of God, just like the people of Israel in Ezekiel 7. But because of Jesus, we don’t have to face God’s wrath. This is ultimately the goodness of the Gospel. The wrath of God is satisfied in Jesus Christ. God poured the wrath we deserved on his only Son. The perfect and holy Son of Heaven became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Ezekiel 7 appears to contradict our idea of God. “God is suppose to be loving and gracious”! And he is. What we fail to see is, as Derek Thomas states, “The Gospel is not ‘God loves us’, but ‘God loves us at the cost of His Son’.” Because of Christ, we don’t have to face Ezekiel 7. Jesus was dealt Ezekiel 7 for us. This is seen in Romans 3:

[23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)

We learn who God is when we see his wrath poured out on His Son. We see who God is when, because of Christ, He no longer sees us as sinners, but He sees the righteousness of His Son on us. Because of Jesus, we don’t experience God’s wrath, we experience His grace. This is who God is: A righteous and just God who must pour His wrath out on sin, yet, because of his unconditional love and grace, poured out his wrath on His own Son so we, through faith in Christ Jesus, can have the forgiveness of sins and be restored to see God for who He truly is.