When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, my mom would instill fear in us by forecasting the lessons we’d learn once she or my dad got “through with us.” Here Ezekiel relays pretty much the same kind of message.
11 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out “Alas!” because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the people of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. 12 One who is far away will die of the plague, and one who is near will fall by the sword, and anyone who survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I pour out my wrath on them. 13 And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every leafy oak—places where they offered fragrant incense to all their idols. 14 And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah—wherever they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 6:11-14
For its unrepentant rebellion, Israel had death, desolation, disease, and unmitigated disaster to look forward to. As a result, they’d wallow in self-loathing. They’d lie slain amongst their broken idols. They’d tremble with abject fear. This retribution at the Lord’s hands was to finally force them to know him! Seven times, in fact, in Ezekiel chapters 6 and 7, the Lord says, “then you will know that I am the Lord.” What an obstinate people!
The lesson for us is this. To what extent will the Lord need to go to teach us the same lesson? At some point, every man and woman will bend the knee to an Almighty God (Philippians 2:10). Will you be judged by your own judgments, or appeal to Jesus, who’s born the wrath of God in your place? “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
My mom would also offer an alternative to the certain punishment to come, and that was to shape up.
It’s not too late to get to know the God of the universe on his own terms.