When a reader finds themselves locked into the plot of a captivating read, they allow their emotions to swell and plummet along with the flow of the story line. Some page-turners, bring the reader almost to the point of despair as they trap their protagonist in such a seemingly impenetrable dilemma when they enter the so-called “dark night of the soul” chapter of their story. The reader can see no way out, no hope, no possible conclusion aside from death and loss. And yet, they know the end cannot be all loss, perhaps unless they happen to be reading a tragedy. Even in those rare books that kill off the main character himself, a solid book will work its way toward a satisfying conclusion.
Ezekiel seems to want to remind us of this real life truth as well. When all is despair – God is present. When all seems lost – God has a plan. When the wicked seem to prosper – God will judge. When the righteous seem forgotten – God sees them. When the wicked change their ways – God is ready to forgive.
We might sometimes get caught up in the hopelessness around us, the injustice and evil. Our hope should never fail. We always can rest in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and compassion.
20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.Ezekiel 18:20 ESV
God does not transfer guilt, but holds each person accountable for their own choices. This always reminds me afresh of the awesomeness of the cross. A completely just God needed a way to forgive us who could never compensate for our sinful choices. The sin demanded judgement. So, He paid it himself. He took on the guilt and punishment that he could not pass over in His overriding eagerness to forgive and bless us. His love made Him take our place in absorbing and absolving His own wrath.
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.Ezekiel 18:31-32 ESV
God does not want even the rebellious to die in their rebellion. We might sometimes cheer at the downfall of the wicked, but God prefers transformation. His own son paid an astronomical price so that all may enjoy forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.Ezekiel 20:9 ESV
God’s promises are eternally trustworthy. His name, his integrity, aligns with the holiest of standards, his own unchanging truth, consistent through millennia.
Regardless of how the tides of our lives, nations, and histories rise and fall, God never changes. Our eternal hope in Him should not diminish as it carries us through the most confusing life circumstances, and the most dire of plot twists.
Lord God, thank you that you are here, were here, will always be here. Thank you for your incomprehensible compassion toward me. Help me to rest in the three pronged power of your sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom. In Jesus name, amen.