Ezekiel illustrates one of the defining markers of God’s people (11:18-21). God’s people are those who look at everything through the lens of God’s character and purposes as revealed through his authorized messengers in his word. No matter the apparent success of a movement or a person in terms of power, influence or wealth, the goodness or rightness of such “success” is determined by its conformity to God’s expressed will and that alone. Positions of power and influence are not straightforward indicators of God’s blessing. God’s people know that you can “gain the whole world” and still “lose your soul” (Mark 8:36).
In Ezekiel’s case, God does not explain why he allowed the wicked leaders and their followers to escape exile and continue in power. His patience is often about his mercy. He is a longsuffering God. On the other hand, sometimes it appears that God gives people the leaders they want as judgment. What is clear in Ezekiel 11 is that they misread God’s intentions toward them from their survival and from the positions of power and influence they held. They were wrong to assume that earthly prosperity means God’s favor—especially as it is defined by a culture out of touch with and rebelling against God’s will and way.
This is something happening with our leaders today. From their positions of power and influence they see the recent Supreme Court decisions as the triumph of love. #lovewins and the rainbow flag/colors herald the dawn of this new age of blessing in America. Our passage applies most directly to church leaders who profess the name of Christ and yet herald this movement as a movement of the Spirit, at worst, or something morally ambiguous, at best. Sadly, one contemporary leader has taken this path. In a recent blog post he states: ”It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”
But this also applies to our secular leaders as well. Ezekiel, and the prophets generally, emphasize that God is the God of the nations. It is through the prophets that we learn that God has his eyes on the nations. Not only were his own people to be a light to the nations, God holds the nations accountable for their rejection of him. The voice of the prophet relayed God’s word for his own people and all peoples. To speak of the most prominent leader in America, President Obama lauded this moment as the moment when our “union” as a country has been made more “perfect”, drawing this line from the Preamble of the Constitution.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
In his opinion our society is freer, more just, more able to enjoy the “blessings of liberty” now and in the future even though we have undermined, even repudiated, God’s created design for men and women, a design that God is restoring and reclaiming through his saving work in Christ.
What Ezekiel points out is that leaders who proclaim peace and prosperity when God is being denied are not to be trusted. They are reading the absence of obvious judgment by God all wrong. These are people who are “plotting evil” (11:2) while heralding a new age of blessings.
In the recent days, when our leaders (and a large percentage of our fellow citizens) discourage those struggling with destructive desires to embrace them as good; when they elevate people who struggle with those desires to a protected class who should be celebrated (rather than lovingly calling them away from and supporting them in their struggle with these desires); and when they say that our “union” as a nation has been made more “perfect” by enshrining in law what God warns against, Ezekiel warns God’s people not to trust them and warns these leaders that he sees and will act.