Ezekiel is beginning like Isaiah, and Jeremiah: God is revealing to the captives what they have done. Why is this so important, to provide a list of sins each time? The captives are in captivity, so why hasn’t God put the past in the past and forgotten about it?
It is because of repentance. There can be no repentance, no turning away from, unless there is first a knowledge of what has been done that needs turning away from. Since there can be no forgiveness and erasing of the past, without repentance first, this is an act of love on God’s part. He is trying to get to the forgiveness and forgetting, so He is putting the knowledge of Israel’s sin before her face, so that she can repent.
The fact remains that even though God used the lifetimes of both Isaiah and Jeremiah to call Israel to repent or calamity was coming, Israel did not repent. We know they did not repent, because the calamity came upon them. They were carried into captivity unrepentant, and perhaps now, for the first time since Isaiah was called, now that they are slaves in another land, they are willing to listen for the first time, to the things that the LORD’s prophet is saying, and receiving for the first time the knowledge of their sins.
Parents, God is also a Father disciplining His rebellious children. We need to pay attention and learn from Him how He changes a rebellious heart that will not listen. He first established the rules of the house, and did not alter them. For hundreds of years, in love, He warned. He gave chance upon chance to learn. He rewarded righteousness and refused to reward wickedness. He used light discomforts in the beginning and increased the punishment over time only when they were not effective. His message was consistent from beginning to end.
Only when their hardness was so entrenched and their path to destruction set, did He bring upon them something so devastating which was sure to break them and open their eyes. Really, this is is a testament to the great GRACE and LONGSUFFERING of the LORD. If they knew that devastation would come upon them, as it came upon Egypt, surely they would have changed long before. But God’s dealings with them had always been love, and so even though the prophets warned for so long, they could not believe something that bad would really happen, because it had never happened before.
Now lest we misunderstand, God is not just angry at His disobedient children. Look at this astonishing revelation:
“Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries. Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations.” Eze 6:8-9
That Hebrew word for crushed, is the same word translated brokenhearted elsewhere in Scripture (God binds up the brokenhearted). God loves Israel, and Israel’s rebellion and complete and utter lack of love shown to Him in return, broke His heart. Let no one ever say that God does not understand what we are going through. He understands rejection, pain, and rebellion. He understands what it is like to do nothing but love our children and have them return that love with hatred. He can comfort us with true comfort, because He has been there Himself.
But He also knows exactly what to do — His discipline so cured Judah of rebellion and idolatry, that when the Greeks and Romans tried to turn Israel to paganism after Judah had been returned to their land, they fought to the death before submitting to it ever again. He will help us if we seek His face!