Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That famous line from the Lord’s prayer should strike fear in us. Do we really want to be forgiven in relationship to how forgiving we are to others? That might not work out so well for us…
Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
Well, it was the same for the elders of Israel at the time of Ezekiel. Here’s the problem: they set up idols and stumbling blocks before themselves. The elders. Those are the leaders. And if the leaders have trouble with idols and stumbling in their faith, how much more the people?
Yet still they came to inquire of the Lord. Interesting. Does that happen today? Do we set up idols and stumbling blocks before ourselves and then still come to God for help and direction? Absolutely we do.
We often have one foot in the world and one foot in heaven. One eye on our worldly plans and one on the things of God. And we come to God for his blessing.
God is discussing this with Ezekiel and asking, ‘should I even entertain their inquiry?’. Should I bother? Will they listen? Turns out only if we want to. If it suits us. And so God tells Ezekiel that he will answer the elders in keeping with their idolatry. He will respond to them as they deserve. Their behaviour will guide God’s response.
May it never be.
May it never be that God deals with me according to my idols and stumbling blocks – the snares and traps of my own making… I stand in grace. In Jesus, I will not be dealt with according to what I deserve. Jesus received my due penalty for my sins. I receive grace because of Jesus.
In fact, there is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Thanks be to God that he has shown us this great mercy. Let’s not take it for granted…