If we think that no one is expected to be perfect, then surely we do not expect leaders to treat their people as if they are to be perfect. In other words, they are expected to soften their message.
This is like modern man's preoccupation of making foods look nice and yet have all their nutrition removed! White bread and rice became popular because it was first associated with prosperity. Now people mostly eat just this white bread from which the nutrients have been taken away and only a small percentage replaced. Equally worse are the diseases that are directly related to the lack of fiber people are getting in their diets which are based on impoverished fods. But it tastes good they say! They have missed the point.
God is very conscious of the temptations of elders and pastors to reduce the essentials from His message. The people will come demanding that they 'be more understanding.' Of course, we can speak eloquently, but we must be real. God's leaders are required to bring the message that God Himself desires to bring. This is the integrity of God's servant. He does not tamper with God's message.
But if the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the LORD, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. (Ezekiel 14:9).
Softening the message of God is usurping God's authority. This is like telling the people that their message is better than God's. They are essentially telling them that they ought to go by their word rather than God's Word. One can see the 'heart idol' set up in the heart of these leaders. This is the reason the judgment is so severe.
And they will bear the punishment of their iniquity; as the iniquity of the inquirer is, so the iniquity of the prophet will be, (Ezekiel 14:10).
Three times the word iniquity is used. They are guilty of impure decisions. These leaders have compromised their duties because of the fear of man. Unless the leader fears God, then he will always fear man and compromise the message. What is the result of this? God says that because of 'mushy' preaching, God's people both stray from Him and defile themselves.
In order that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me and no longer defile themselves with all their transgressions. Thus they will be My people, and I shall be their God, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 14:11).
When the pastors and teachers, the prophets and evangelists, compromise on God's Word, the people will go further away from God. If God's people would again start faithfully preaching His Word, then the people would stop straying and no longer wander in their sins. They would come back to God. Revival comes when leaders start preaching God's whole word, for then the people hear it, confess their sins, repent and are restored to God. The leaders are very responsible for the hearts of the people. It is hard to be a faithful preacher, but even harder to be an unfaithful one for the Lord will severely judge him.
Application No light from God
Have you at all compromised the message of God? Where exactly? If you are in leadership, why not start by telling God that you have compromised His message and now repent from it. Then go to the other leaders on your level within the church, and tell them what you have done. Perhaps God would be so gracious to bring people back to Himself. But they might not want your confession. Be prepared to stand strong and be rejected. Just be humble. You have failed God as much as they have.
4) God won't judge the heathen (Ezekiel 14:12-20)
The implications of a soft message are very clear. If God will overlook sin in the lives of His people, then surely He will overlook the sins in the lives of those who never heard His Word. This is the heathen or distant people that might never have heard of God's Word. What do you believe about this matter? Why?
We can see that God is speaking no longer about His people or leaders but just some country or nation in some part of the world. God has not spoken clearly to these people, but they clear enough are held accountable for their deeds. Note what God says.
Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and cut off from it both man and beast, (Ezekiel 14:13).
Unfaithfulness is not the best translation because it hints at the covenant God only has with His people. 'Trespassing' is a more accurate translation. We see that God holds that country liable for all its deeds against God's laws. The country has to some degree understood its obligations but failed God her Maker.
When nations are judged and wiped out, we see that God takes full charge of this operation. God is Judge of all the nations. He deals with hidden heart sins, people's sins, leaders' sins and national sins.
Many people think that God only judges His people. We see this is not the case. He does judge His people more severely because they have received more light, but he Himself still judges the pagan nations. There might be some righteous men like Noah, Daniel and Job inside a wicked nation, but that doesn't change God's determination to judge that nation.
Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 14:14).
The statement seems obvious the first time God said it, but we note that the LORD repeatedly states that what might most incline Him to spare a nation the presence of His righteous people would still not get that nation off the hook. He repeats this in verse 14, 16, 18, and 20. His righteous people 'would only deliver themselves.'
So we see that God uses all sorts of hardships as judgments. Famine (13), wild beasts (15), sword (17) and a plague (19) are all used to judge the peoples. We should train ourselves to connect the these national disasters with God's judgments. When God send an earthquake to disturb the oil supply, we are to pay close attention. It might be minor, but God is speaking through His actions. These things should cause us to repent.
We should be most silly to say that God does not judge the heathen. They are responsible for their sins. God will sooner or later begin a whole sequence of judgments which except for the last final judgment are serve as reminders to turn to God while they have a chance.
What disasters has your nation experienced as of late? Would it be called a nation who generally knows God's Word or not? Have you ever heard the newspaper calling these national disasters as God's judgments? Have you thought of them? Do you act contritely when they occur or just ignore them?
5) God loves us, He won't judge us! (Ezekiel 14:21-23)
The greatest hoax is saved for last. Here God destroys any hope that God's own people will not be spared if they sin against Him. I suppose we should know better, but still down deep God's people think that because of the covenant, because of His special love for them, because they are called Christians, etc., God simply won't judge them.
Christians get rather indignant at times when they hear God will judge them. Let's see what God's Words says here. In fact He is rather brief - only three verses. He in fact has already said it all in the previous verses but just in case they don't get the message He states it clearly.
For thus says the Lord GOD, How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague to cut off man and beast from it! (Ezekiel 14:21).
God is no longer speaking about the nations in general. He is addressing Judah and her capital Jerusalem. The exact four hardships that the nations would face are those things that they themselves would face. So much for the argument that because we are God's people, He will treat us better! The sword, famine, wild beasts and plagues would also be visited upon His own nation.
We see only one different thing that happens, and this is repeatedly heard and seen throughout the Old Testament. God promises a remnant. In other words, God will preserve a small group of loyalists through the great judgments. Everything else will go: the temple, the government buildings, the army destroyed, the city gates demolished, but the remnant will be preserved for His greater purposes.
God will not have mercy on them except that He will make sure His promises are completed. Comfort will not come to these wicked people, but to a future generation.
The message is clear. God's people will receive the same judgment as the heathen because their deeds were equally hideous, fully deserving judgment. God will never let sin stand no matter where it is, even right smack in the middle of a big church sanctuary. God will eventually judge it.
For we know Him who said, VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY. And again, THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE. (Hebrews 10:30).
Instead of excusing or overlooking their sins, God's people in the spirit of Revelations 2-3 confess and repent from their sins.
In section 1 God judges individuals.
In section 2 He judges His people.
In section 3 He judges His leaders.
In section 4 He judges the nations.
In section 5 He judges His own people as a nation.
Will God spare His judgment? No. We must refuse to insist that God will overlook our sins depending on who we are, big or small, black or white, clergy or laymen. God will judge all.
We should have no comfort except in the fact that we repent from our sins and live righteously like Noah, Daniel and Job. They stood like bright lights in a very dark and gloomy world.
Do we think that God would judge churches? What about your own church? What sins have we allowed to go on without repenting from? Can you name or think of three dead churches? What happened to them? If God would revive the nation of Israel, do you think He would tolerate sin in that nation? What should we expect if He did?
God cannot overlook sin. Sometimes He postpones judgment. Final judgment is coming and yet little warnings come forth which actually bring the death of many. Is it not time for us to uncover the idols of the heart, repent from them and live righteous lives after His standard? Can we not strive to join the 'righteous club' and be partners in living according to God's 100% standard like Noah, Daniel and Job? They lived in difficult times, but they persevered. We, now have more light than ever. We need to obey the Lord to be spared from His judgment.
God's love does not mean that He will spare any sinner from judgment. God's love only means that He has provided a means repentant sinners can escape that judgment through belief in Jesus Christ. All sin must be judged, either sooner or later.