“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins. “Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you?”
It’s usually the simple questions that get us. Those questions that are only one short phrase yet they pierce us like a needle the words are so pointed. You know the kind of questions I’m talking about. They’re the ones cancel the ability of your tongue to slither and form a counter-argument. They are rhetorical questions, and they are designed to make you think very, very deeply about yourself.
Here in this quick snippet from Ezekiel, we see just that kind of question. In the first couple of verses, God obviously has some explaining to do, but not because He is on trial or needs to prove Himself. See, the people of Israel simply weren’t getting it. The Lord was gazing upon His people, hearing their cries and arguments against them, and He answered.
As He provides this brilliant lecture on justice, He starts to wrap up with one of these pointed questions. In these few short words, the tables turn: “Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you?” Right there, God reveals a very prevalent aspect of human nature; we love to blame anyone except ourselves when things are going wrong. We love to blame anyone else, and then we love to fight and defend our position.
If someone else, anyone else were to ask us that question during an argument, we would immediately start to defend our perspective, whether out loud or to ourselves. In this chapter, however, this question is posed by the Almighty God. Nothing could be more humbling. I mean, you can try and form a defense. You could present your case, but how could it stand against the perfection of the justice of God?
There is nothing to do but realize the truth and stand in awe of God at that point. Then, you seek Him and adore Him and learn from Him.
You can also, however, take this pointed question and use it in your conversations with others. Not against them of course, but use this question to shatter what may be a sinfully self-righteous perspective. When you are discussing an issue with someone or even you are simply considering the issue to yourself, pose the question to yourself: “Is there any chance that you just might be wrong about this?”
It is a great opportunity to humble and learn about yourself.