When God judges a nation

Judge nation

Wednesday 03/08/23 

Series: Thru the Bible

Message: When God judges a nation

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When God judges a nation

Ezekiel 21:1-32, 

“(1) The word of the LORD came to me again:  

(2)  “Son of man, turn your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel,  (3)  and say to it: 

This is what the LORD says: I am against you. I will draw My sword from its sheath and cut off both the righteous and the wicked from you.  

(4)  Since I will cut off both the righteous and the wicked, My sword will therefore come out of its sheath against everyone from the south to the north.  (5)  So all the people will know that I, the LORD, have taken My sword from its sheath–it will not be sheathed again.” 

Before I address the big issue of the righteous being judged with the wicked, let me first address what the sword is. 

It is both metaphorical and literal. 

The sword mentioned in this place is Nebuchadnezzar and those nations such as the Chaldeans who were aligned with him in battle. He is the sword in the hand of God, whom God will use to execute national judgment on Israel

The imagery is simply a little more personal and lively here than in Paul’s statement in Romans which reads,

Romans 13:1-6, “(1) Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.  (2)  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.  (3)  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do good and you will have its approval.  (4)  For government is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.  (5)  Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience.  (6)  And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks.”

Now you might wonder at this statement of the righteous being judged with the wicked. We know that God has historically gone on record that the righteous will not be punished with the wicked, nor stand in the same judgment with them.

Psalm 1:5-6, “(5) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;  (6)  for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

However, this first portion of the prophecy is regarding NATIONAL judgment NOT individual judgment and this is something we all need to understand clearly.

When God comes in judgment to destroy, He pours His wrath out on the wicked. When He comes to bring judgment against the nation – all participate, but the wicked will be those who are afflicted the greatest.

Remember two weeks ago in Ezekiel 14…

“This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.  (12)  The word of the LORD came to me:  

(13)  “Son of man, if a land sins against Me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out My hand against it to cut off its supply of bread, to send famine through it, and to wipe out both man and animal from it,  (14)  even if these three men–Noah, Daniel, and Job–were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”

The list given were those listed in Solomon’s prayer and included famine, plague, sword…etc. ALL OF THESE affects one’s individual life and so the righteous would be spared, though they lived in the midst of it. 

This is in keeping with what we learned last week regarding the proverb in Israel God stopped, which said, “The fathers eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” which is to indicate that innocent children are punished for the crimes of their fathers. God set the record straight by saying in Ezekiel 18:9,“He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”

However, while the innocent are not punished FOR the crimes of others, they are not free from the effects of that sin. If a father sins, he might very well make life hard on his children, but those same children will not be punished for the sins of the father.

Likewise if the nation as a whole did evil in the sight of the Lord and they were to be deported – delivered into captivity, then ALL would go. However, historically, those who are righteous are always given a place of prominence among their captors and are favored by them.

Peter, when talking about judgment said that, “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,” 


Just a few chapters back here in Ezekiel we saw God marking the righteous – separating them from the wicked for judgment. 

Ezekiel 9:3-11, “(3) Then the glory of the God of Israel rose from above the cherubim where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man clothed in linen with the writing equipment at his side.  

(4)  “Pass throughout the city of Jerusalem,” the LORD said to him, “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations committed in it.”  

(5)  To the others He said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him and start killing; do not show pity or spare them!  (6)  Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, as well as the older women and little children, but do not come near anyone who has the mark. Now begin at My sanctuary.” 

So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple.  (7)  Then He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out killing people in the city.  

(8)  While they were killing, I was left alone. And I fell facedown and cried out, “Ah, Lord GOD! Are You going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel when You pour out Your wrath on Jerusalem?”  

(9)  He answered me: “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is extremely great; the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity. For they say: The LORD has abandoned the land; He does not see.  (10)  But as for Me, I will not show pity or spare them. I will bring their actions down on their own heads.”  

(11)  Then the man clothed in linen with the writing equipment at his side reported back, “I have done as You commanded me.”

So while God is not going to spare either the righteous or the unrighteous, we will see that His judgments for both are not entirely the same.

Ezekiel 21…

(6)  “But you, son of man, groan! Groan bitterly with a broken heart right before their eyes.  (7)  And when they ask you: Why are you groaning? then say: 

Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt, and every hand will become weak. Every spirit will be discouraged, and every knee will turn to water. 

Yes, it is coming and it will happen.” 

This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.  

(8)  The word of the LORD came to me:  

(9)  “Son of man, prophesy: This is what the Lord says! You are to proclaim: A sword! A sword is sharpened and also polished.  (10)  It is sharpened for slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! 

Should we rejoice? The scepter of My son, the sword despises every tree.  (11)  The sword is given to be polished, to be grasped in the hand. It is sharpened, and it is polished, to be put in the hand of the slayer.  

(12)  Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against My people. It is against all the princes of Israel! They are given over to the sword with My people. Therefore strike your thigh in grief.  (13)  Surely it will be a trial! 

And what if the sword despises even the scepter? The scepter will not continue. 

This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.  

In other words, not even the kings of Israel will be spared.

“(14)  Therefore, son of man, prophesy and clap your hands together. Let the sword strike two times, even three. It is a sword for massacre, a sword for great massacre–it surrounds them!  

(15)  I have appointed a sword for slaughter at all their gates, so that their hearts may melt and many may stumble. Alas! It is ready to flash like lightning; it is drawn for slaughter.  

(16)  Slash to the right; turn to the left–wherever your blade is directed.  (17)  I also will clap My hands together, and I will satisfy My wrath. 

I, the LORD, have spoken.”  

(18)  Then the word of the LORD came to me:  

(19)  “Now you, son of man, mark out two roads that the sword of Babylon’s king can take. Both of them should originate from the same land. And make a signpost at the fork in the road to each city.  

(20)  Mark out a road that the sword can take to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem.  

(21)  For the king of Babylon stands at the split in the road, at the fork of the two roads, to practice divination: he shakes the arrows, consults the idols, and observes the liver.”

You may recall times when in movies, magic was consulted in times when someone needed to make a decision. Consulting entrails and in particular the liver was a real practice – not just in the movies. It is called “hepa-to-scopy”, or inspection into the liver. 

“(22)  The answer marked Jerusalem appears in his right hand, indicating that he should set up battering rams, give the order to slaughter, raise a battle cry, set battering rams against the gates, build a ramp, and construct a siege wall.  

(23)  It will seem like false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn an oath to the Babylonians, but it will draw attention to their guilt so that they will be captured.  

(24)  “Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says: 

Because you have drawn attention to your guilt, exposing your transgressions, so that your sins are revealed in all your actions, since you have done this, you will be captured by them.  (25)  And you, profane and wicked prince of Israel, the day has come for your punishment.”  

(26)  This is what the Lord GOD says: Remove the turban, and take off the crown. Things will not remain as they are; exalt the lowly and bring down the exalted.  

(27)  A ruin, a ruin, I will make it a ruin! 

Yet this will not happen until He comes; I have given the judgment to Him.  

(28)  “Now prophesy, son of man, and say: 

This is what the Lord GOD says concerning the Ammonites and their contempt. 

You are to proclaim: Sword, sword! You are drawn for slaughter, polished to consume, to flash like lightning.  (29)  While they offer false visions and lying divinations about you, the time has come to put you to the necks of the profane wicked ones; the day has come for your punishment.  

(30)  Return it to its sheath! I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land of your origin.  (31)  I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow the fire of My fury on you. I will hand you over to brutal men, skilled at destruction.  (32)  You will be fuel for the fire. Your blood will be spilled in the land. You will not be remembered, for I, the LORD, have spoken.”

This is a prophecy against the Ammonites because they scorned Israel at the profaning of the temple. Remember that the Ammonites and the Maobites were both the descendants of Lot, Abram’s nephew.

We will see this judgment addressed in chapter 25. As for now, know that this prophecy against them was fulfilled about five years after the fall of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 22:1-31,

“(1) The word of the LORD came to me:  

(2)  “Now, son of man, will you pass judgment? 

Will you pass judgment against the city of blood? 

Then explain all her abominations to her.  (3)  You are to say: 

This is what the Lord GOD says: 

A city that sheds blood within her walls so that her time of judgment has come and who makes idols for herself so that she is defiled!  (4)  You are guilty of the blood you have shed, and you are defiled from the idols you have made. You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment. 

Therefore, I have made you a disgrace to the nations and a mockery to all the lands.  (5)  Those who are near and those far away from you will mock you, you infamous one full of turmoil.  

(6)  “Look, every prince of Israel within you has used his strength to shed blood.  (7)  Father and mother are treated with contempt, and the foreign resident is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you.  (8)  You despise My holy things and profane My Sabbaths.  

(9)  There are men within you who slander in order to shed blood. People who live in you eat at the mountain shrines; they commit immoral acts within you.  (10)  Men within you have sexual intercourse with their father’s wife, and violate women during their menstrual impurity.  

(11)  One man within you commits an abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another wickedly defiles his daughter-in-law; and yet another violates his sister, his father’s daughter.  

(12)  People who live in you accept bribes in order to shed blood. You take interest and profit on a loan and brutally extort your neighbors. 

You have forgotten Me.” 

This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.  

(13)  “Now look, I clap My hands together against the unjust gain you have made and against the blood shed among you.  (14)  Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the days when I deal with you? 

I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will act.  

(15)  I will disperse you among the nations and scatter you among the countries; I will purge your uncleanness.  (16)  You will be profaned in the sight of the nations. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”  

(17)  The word of the LORD came to me:  

(18)  “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me. All of them are copper, tin, iron, and lead inside the furnace; they are the dross of silver.  

(19)  Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says: Because all of you have become dross, I am about to gather you into Jerusalem.  (20)  Just as one gathers silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into the furnace to blow fire on them and melt them, so I will gather you in My anger and wrath, put you inside, and melt you. 

(21)  Yes, I will gather you together and blow on you with the fire of My fury, and you will be melted within the city.  

(22)  As silver is melted inside a furnace, so you will be melted inside the city. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have poured out My wrath on you.”  

(23)  The word of the LORD came to me:  

(24)  “Son of man, say to her: 

You are a land that has not been cleansed, that has not received rain in the day of indignation.  (25)  The conspiracy of her prophets within her is like a roaring lion tearing its prey: they devour people, seize wealth and valuables, and multiply the widows within her.  

(26)  Her priests do violence to My law and profane My holy things. They make no distinction between the holy and the common, and they do not explain the difference between the clean and the unclean. They disregard My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  

(27)  “Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood, and destroying lives in order to get unjust gain.  

(28)  Her prophets plaster with whitewash for them by seeing false visions and lying divinations, and they say: 

This is what the Lord GOD says, when the LORD has not spoken.  

(29)  The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the foreign resident.  (30)  I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.  

(31)  So I have poured out My indignation on them and consumed them with the fire of My fury. I have brought their actions down on their own heads.” 

This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!