“This was the error of Sodom your sister: She and her daughters were proud and had an abundance of food and carefree tranquility; yet they did not support the afflicted and the poor.”
Why was Jerusalem, the Holy City, compared to Sodom?
Sodom had been notorious not only for its immoral practices, which Judeans now surpassed, but also for its hardheartedness. (Eze. 16:47,48,50)
Over a hundred years before Ezekiel, the prophet Isaiah had also compared the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah, which led to his execution (Isa. 1:10; Isaiah’s Prophecy I: “Let Us Set Matters Straight; footnote)
Jesus, referring to the inhabitants of his day who ignored the signs that he was the messiah, stated: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Matt. 10:11-15)
What about ourselves?
Do we respond to the Bible’s message with pride and hardheartedness?
As Christians, does our moral lifestyle include giving more of ourselves toward those who are spiritually, emotionally and physically in need? (Jas. 1:27)
“Although I have removed them far away among the nations […], for a little while I will become a sanctuary for them in the lands to which they have gone.”
Even when Jehovah God decides to discipline someone, he does not abandon them.
Jehovah wants those he disciplines to learn to rely on him.
The Jews in Ezekiel’s time were being taken captive to Babylon. (2 Ki. 24:14,15)
Those remaining ended up fleeing to other nations. (2 Ki. 25:26)
Regardless of where they ended up, Jehovah was still reaching out individually to those who wanted to worship him.
Nowadays, for whatever reason, someone might find him or herself separated from the congregation.
Jehovah wants to comfort any of those who call out to him in prayer, as he will never desert those who actively seek him. (Neh. 9:31)
“[…] Do not let your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion.”
Is it cruel on God’s part to destroy the wicked?
Jesus said God executes justice “speedily.” (Luke 18:7,8)
But when Ezekiel prophesied about Jerusalem’s destruction, five years had yet to pass before its fulfillment.
Since the days of Moses, Jehovah had sent one prophet after another to warn his people of what would happen should they stray from true worship. (Jer. 7:25)
Still, the people as a whole were not destroyed.
Jehovah examined them individually and figuratively marked those who would survive Babylon’s invasion.
Furthermore, the religious leaders most responsible for corrupting Jehovah’s worship would be the first to be executed. (Eze. 9:6)
This teaches us that being a nominal Christian or getting baptized is not enough to receive the “mark” of salvation.
Jehovah and Jesus will closely examine who among us truly has faith by our acts of worship. (Jas. 2:24)
“When he spoke to me, spirit came into me and made me stand up on my feet […]”
Sometimes we may feel like we can no longer go on dealing with life’s problems.
We may want to do good and move forward and onward, but we just cannot find any fight left in us.
If we rely on Jehovah God, he will give us the strength to boldly carry on. (Ps. 138:3)
He will give us the peace of mind needed to continue serving him. (Ps. 29:11; Dan. 10:19)
If we continue to ‘walk in Jehovah’s name,’ he will bless us with his superior spirit, allowing us to successfully stand up to our trials. (Zec. 10:12)
“Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens […]”
Is God your best friend?
Jehovah God wants us to reach out to him in heartfelt prayer. (Ps. 65:2)
But it might be difficult to open up to someone we cannot see or physically listen to.
Even if we cannot find the right words, if we continuously try to reach out to God in prayer, he understands what we are trying to say. (Rom. 8:26,27)
God is not just looking for routine acts of worship or words.
He wants us to “lift up our hearts along with our hands.”
This indicates sincere motivation coupled with good deeds.
Perhaps in the past we have been guilty of loving God half-heartedly, afraid of giving more than we were already giving to his service. (Re. 3:16)
Or perhaps we have even been guilty of being double-hearted, verbally committing to something while we secretly resolved not to carry it through. (Matt. 15:7,8)
How comforting it is to know that if we repent, reexamine our lives, and seek God again with all our heart, he will forgive us and be our friend. (Jer. 29:12,13)
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, most became obstinate in their behavior while others just pretended to repent, and this hurt Jehovah. (Jer. 3:10; 8:6)
Let us make sure every day that what we are doing in God’s service is motivated by whole-hearted love for him and we can trust that he will do his part. (Ps. 10:17; Ps. 119:145)
“‘[…] They will sleep a lasting sleep,
From which they will not wake up,’ declares Jehovah.”
The Bible explains that there are at least two different types of deaths.
One is the death of someone whom God will resurrect in Paradise, a death Jesus likened to sleep. (Luke 23:39-43; John 11:11-13)
The other death the Bible refers to is that which results in nothingness, nonexistence, simply dust and ashes. (Gen. 3:17,19; Isa. 66:24; Luke 12:4,5; Rev. 20:15)
God foretold through his prophet Jeremiah that Babylon’s leaders would receive permanent punishment for the war crimes they committed, reiterating in verse fifty-seven that they would not benefit from the resurrection hope. (Jer. 51:6, 9, 24, 25, 35, 47, 49, 56)
This prophecy was fulfilled in the year 539 b.C.E., when the city fell in one night to the Mede and Persian armies while the empire’s leaders celebrated a banquet. (Daniel 5:1-3, 30)
Because Jehovah God has appointed his son Jesus as judge, it is unwise for us to speculate whether someone who does not serve God today will not benefit from the resurrection in Paradise. (Acts 10:36,42)
“’In those days and at that time,’ declares Jehovah,
‘Israel’s guilt will be searched for,
But there will be none,
And the sins of Judah will not be found,
For I will forgive those whom I let remain.'”
God allowed his people to be disciplined for not heeding his commandments and straying from true worship. (Jer. 44:10,11)
But God also foretold that his people would return to the Promised Land after a set period and they would then be at peace with him. (Isa. 44:22; Jer. 31:34, 33:7)
Jehovah God is willing to forgive once he has set matters straight, leaving the past in the past.
Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?