The second book of Chronicles closes on a very somber note. Chapter 36 describes the final destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. There is a particular phrase at the close of verse 16: “till there was no remedy.” What had been prophesied for years had finally come to pass with the judgment of God falling upon Jerusalem.
With this thought in mind and turning to Ezekiel 14:12–23 there are four different judgments set forth: famine, noisesome beasts, the sword, and pestilence. There are three men brought before us in the passage, Noah, Daniel, and Job. The prophet states that if these men had been in the land in those prevailing conditions, they would not have been able to help and would only have been able to deliver themselves. Similar conditions are noted in Jeremiah 14-15 and, compared with this passage there are striking similarities.
Noah the Preacher
Look first at Noah who lived before the flood in the midst of great wickedness on the earth. He was a man who walked with God in those conditions. He was a preacher of righteousness to the antediluvians, the spirits now in prison. He prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Faith was in operation. But such a man as this, had he been present, would not have been able to help in these conditions as recorded in Ezekiel.
Daniel the Prophet
Daniel is mentioned next. He would be alive in Babylon, just as Ezekiel was, though in different circumstances. Ezekiel was among the captives and Daniel moved in the palace of the king. He was a man of purpose who would not defile himself with the king’s meat. He was a man of prayer even under the threat of being cast into the lions’ den. This did not deter him from praying to God three times a day. He was a man of prophecy and his writings are the backbone of prophecy. God calls him “a man greatly beloved.” Yet, had he been in Ezekiel’s area, Daniel would not have been able to help the nation.
Job the Patriarch
Job is spoken of as upright, and as a perfect man who feared God and eschewed evil. He was a man of prayer and took into account his family and offered sacrifices on their behalf with prayer. He was also the object of Satan’s malice. God permitted Satan to touch this man, his possessions, his family, and his own person with a dreadful affliction. But Job was also noted for his patience and at the end of his trial he prayed for his three friends and was blessed again of God. Despite this, he also would not have been able to intervene for the nation.
What we learn from this is that the nation had put itself in such a position by their sin and departure from God that the best of men, had they been there, would not have been able to help. Sin is a serious thing and the consequences that came upon the nation at this time were irreversible. The destruction of the city and the temple, and the carrying away of the captives to sit and weep for 70 long years, testify to this. At the close of this passage there is a ray of hope with the promise given of a remnant that would return.
There are also additional chapters in Ezekiel that mention God’s judgment on certain nations for their attitude and treatment of His people in their distress: Moab, Edom, the Philistines, and the Ammonites. God will judge His people but is looking on at the malicious behavior of other nations around; these nations will not go unpunished.
This can have a personal application today. It is a reality that a believer can fall into sin, with serious consequences. It can follow a gradual process; a look, a passing remark, or a gesture can start a train of events leading to a catastrophe. Think again of the privileges that Israel had as Paul mentions in Romans 9:4, 5: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
Israel as a nation was privileged. Yet their fall was so serious that even the prayers of three of the godliest in Israel’s history would not have availed to restore them again to usefulness for God.
The lesson of Ezekiel 14 is that privilege, gift, and past experiences do not in themselves preserve from falling; sin and departure are serious and carry long lasting effects on the life of a believer or an assembly.
However, God is the God of restoration and recovery can be made, as seen in Ezekiel 14:22-23, “Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant … ye shall be comforted … ye shall know.”