It came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, thus says the Lord God: ‘Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I will not be inquired of by you.’” (Ezekiel 20:1-3)
Coming To God With The Wrong Attitude
Israel had been taken captive to Babylon and would spend seventy years in bondage before being allowed by the Lord to return to the homeland of their fathers. Their rebellion and refusal to obey the Lord had brought the wrath of God against them. In the fifth year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin, God had come to Ezekiel the priest to prophecy to the captive people the word of the Lord. A few years later certain elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord seeking the counsel through Ezekiel. The response of God was not what they expected and instead became a severe rebuke of the attitudes that were still being manifested by the people against the Lord and the plight of their captivity. Although prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea had warned the people of the impending doom if they did not repent, Israel became a stiff-necked people refusing to change their ways. Incredibly they still wanted to argue with the Lord after their captivity. The elders of Israel wanted to blame their fathers for their plight and refused to acknowledge any guilt on their part. A proverb that was common at the time was told again and again that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge. The Lord told Ezekiel to tell the people He did not want to hear the proverb anymore. Sin had put the people in Babylon and they would have to accept their punishment. What made the visit by the elder’s anger God was they came with no remorse for their sins. It was easy to blame their fathers but they remained vigilant in their refusal to accept accountability for their own actions. They expected God to forgive them as if they could tell the Lord what to do. Their hearts of pride and arrogance delivered them into the hands of the heathen nation of Babylon because the Lord had allowed it. They dared come before the Lord God demanding answers. He refused.
David, the psalmist of Israel, said that repentance comes from a broken and contrite spirit. To dare come before God with a haughty heart will bring nothing but the fierce anger of the Lord. The elders of Israel were reminded of the abominations they had committed against the Lord and how throughout the history of Israel God had dealt with the people with mercy, grace, love, and longsuffering but to no avail. There was nothing more the God of Israel could do for His people and so they were banished to captivity. It seemed incredulous that now the elders came before Ezekiel seeking an audience with the Lord with unrepentant hearts demanding answers. The word of the Lord was clear and demonstrative. They would not be going back to Israel. The captivity would last the full seventy years and those who came into the captivity would never go home. Those who returned as the remnant were a new generation. Coming to God with the wrong attitude did not help their cause. If anything, it confirmed the reason God punished them in the beginning. Refusal to see one’s own sin is greater blindness than those who cannot see. Israel rejected God and He rejected them. Their attitude was that God owed them everything and they came to collect. The problem was their failure to appreciate how great the ocean of God’s mercy was and how small their boat.
The problem of sin and the failure to recognize the need for repentance still brings men to the Father seeking what they will never find. God will not hear the prayers of the unrepentant. Without a broken heart and a contrite spirit, the ears of the Divine will not be inclined to listen. Godly sorrow comes from a penitent heart begging for the mercy and grace of a loving Father. When the prodigal son returned to his father he did not come with demands but with tears. Jesus told of two men who went to pray and the result was one came to brag and the other to petition. God does not ignore sin. He is a righteous God who demands the penitent come to Him with a spirit of love understanding the measure of mercy allowed to even to be ushered into the presence of the throne room. No man can demand of God and God will not tolerate a haughty spirit of unrepentant pride. The elders of Israel mistakenly believed the Lord owed them an explanation and reason for their plight. If they would have heeded the words of the prophets they would not be in Babylon. Their stubborn hearts, rebellious spirits, and immoral minds brought them to destruction and they deserved every measure of God’s wrath. How could they dare approach God demanding answers? The Lord said He would not be inquired of by them. No man can come to the Father without first emptying self and coming to the Creator of the world on their knees. The humility of man is the exaltation of a righteous God who requires His name be glorified among men. Every knee will bow one day and no man will stand arrogant in the final day. Praise God for He is great.