Thursday, September 6, 2012

the God of righteous ruin

A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him.
Ezekiel 21:27

God was sovereign in the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was given a message to warn the city, the king, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem that the king of Babylon had sharpened a sword and would soon destroy them all. The city would be left a smoldering ruin. And all of this was not the will of Babylon alone. It was the way God was pouring His wrath out in response to decades of idolatry.

Some of the most descriptive imagery was reserved for the king, in this case Zedekiah, as God took him to task for his improper leadership. The overwhelming devastation was supposed to exalt God and His prophetic word while at the same time humiliating the wicked king and his unrighteous disobedience. God would prove Himself to be still the God of Israel by exercising His discipline.

For some reason contemporary Christians don't like to talk much about God's sovereign justice. Perhaps we are afraid to do so for two reasons. First, we are afraid that if we do, we will get thrown into Fred Phelps' bizarre camp. But knowing God to be sovereign in judgment does not mean that we turn into raving "end of days" picketers. Secondly, we don't really live like God is concerned with justice among us. If we got involved in bringing the gospel to bear against real injustice (not the celebration of sinful life, but the exaltation of righteousness by caring for people), perhaps we would be filled with an understanding of God's holy indignation!

Knowing sovereign justice fills us with proper respect. It is the rescue that the gospel is all about. It does us good to remember God's wrath in order to celebrate His mercy in the gospel.

Help me to hold the truth in a holy, respectful tension. You are both Savior and Sovereign Judge! And the entire message is the gospel upon which I must center my beliefs, my life, and my actions!

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