Day19

An Indictment of Sinful Jerusalem

from the Lent 2022: Come to Life reading plan


Ezekiel 22:1-31, Ezekiel 23:1-27, Romans 3:21-26

BY Melanie Rainer

I like happy stories. I’m drawn to comedy over drama, delight in an afternoon spent wrapped up in a blanket watching a late nineties romantic comedy (ideally starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). I avoid movies, shows, and books with the following: suspense, tragedy, gore of any kind, car wrecks, deadly diseases, dying, and unhappy endings. Blame my anxiety, some unresolved childhood trauma, or just a buoyant outlook on life, but hard and sad stories are not for me. 

So I’m not naturally drawn to books like Ezekiel, at least certainly not the first few dozen chapters. It’s hard to sit and read about the myriad ways Judah has failed and to see those failures reflected back in my own heart. Chapters 22 and 23 cut to the chase, and as I read them during this Lenten season, I flinch and squirm, unsettled by the harsh but true language. Because I’m reading not just about the long-ago Israelites, I’m reading about the depth of sin that is possible in me. 

But to grasp the implications of the true ugliness of sin in my own heart, it’s helpful to understand how and why Ezekiel structures these chapters. Chapter 22 gives us three oracles about their destructive behavior. A cue for seeing when each starts is the phrase, “the word of the LORD came to me,” and they begin at verses 1, 17, and 23. 

In the first oracle, Ezekiel gives the people a list. It’s not just a list of things they’ve done wrong. He uses language and references from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy to show specifically the laws of God that they have broken. This isn’t a wild deviation from culture and norms; rather, these are things that God told them not to do. If my kids break a rule they don’t know about, like saying a bad word they had never heard before, well, that’s one thing. It’s on me to disciple them in that moment, to teach them right from wrong. But the people weren’t stumbling onto a new way of sinfulness, they were explicitly breaking God’s laws. We see echoes of the Ten Commandments in Ezekiel 22:4, 7, and 8. Ezekiel references specific Levitical laws throughout this oracle as well, specifically from Leviticus 18–20. 

In the second oracle, Ezekiel tells them that there is no good left. The city will be burned, but nothing will be refined: no silver purified from dross. This is a stark, shocking, sad image. He starts with “this is what you have done,” and the second oracle describes “this is what will happen to you.” 

The third oracle, beginning with verse 22, reminds the people of Judah that none of them—not one—is righteous. None have obeyed the law. Romans 3:23 reiterates this truth: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 

Ezekiel’s words sting all the way through, each of the three oracles wielding a particular perspective. But they lead us to this: not one of us can follow the law. And so God must do what He has spoken; He must act. The Lord’s wrath was not poured out on us, but on His own son, Jesus—who, on the cross, bore the crushing weight of all our sin, and who made a way for us to be clean and righteous. What a weight we bear, but what a gift we have been given. Praise be to God. 

Post Comments (61)

61 thoughts on "An Indictment of Sinful Jerusalem"

  1. Susan Clifton says:

    In seasons of life, (right now, for us, rife with celebrating many family and friends who have left this earthly world, your words Little Churchmouse, are timely jewels. My husband and I are grateful for this season of renewal, restoration, and the acknowledgement of how we fail daily, yet God continues to discipline and Love us. HE calls us to glorify him. Thank you Sweet Jesus for today and the words of others you place in our paths.

    Sorry for the multiple posts. I am a tad frustrated by my clumsy fingers, small typing space, strange scrolling and my lack of knowledge on how to edit posts well on SRT. I remain prayerful SRT can improve this “posting” part of the experience to aid us in decreasing multiples. Love the site, but barely can see that light green POST color.

  2. Susan Clifton says:

    In seasons of life, (right now, for us, rife with celebrating many family and friends who have left this earthly world, your words Little Churchmouse, are timely jewels. My husband and I are grateful for this season of renewal, restoration, and the acknowledgement of how we fail daily, yet God continues to discipline and Love us. HE calls us to glorify him, co

    Sweet Jesus for today and the words of others you place in our paths.

  3. Susan Clifton says:

    In seasons of life, (right now, for us, rife with celebrating many family and friends who have left this earthly world, your words Little Churchmouse, are timely jewels. My husband and I are grateful for this season of renewal, restoration, and the acknowledgement of how we fail daily, yet God continues to discipline and Love us. HE calls us to glorify him, constantly keeping our relationship with hiSweet Jesus for today and the words of others you place in our paths.

  4. Susan Clifton says:

    In seasons of life, right now for us, the deyour words Little Churchmouse, are timely jewels.

  5. Kristin V says:

    ♥️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.