Ezekiel 8:12

“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”

Hundreds of years before Christ, the nation of Israel, by then divided into the nations of Israel and Judah, was taken away from their land. Israel was first carried away to Assyria. Then, 140 years later, Nebuchadnezzar took the nation of Judah captive to Babylon.

After the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people of the land of Judah were carried away, Ezekiel was sent by God to speak to them in Babylon. His job was to tell them why it was they were taken captive. If they had been listening to God’s many prophets, Ezekiel’s words would have been familiar. They told Israel and Judah that they would be taken out of their land because of their idolatry. At God’s command, those prophets warned them repeatedly to turn away from their idols, and turn to God. But, they turned their back on the LORD God and His prophets, and worshiped the idols of the nations around them: the nations that Israel had displaced in the land. Their idols did nothing for those nations, and they were unable to do anything for Israel. Their God was the Living God.

Earlier in chapter 8, Ezekiel recorded a vision that the LORD had given him of the idolatry of the leaders of Judah; idolatry that they carried out even in the temple of the Living God. The very last phrase of the verse above reveals their thinking; “… The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” The idolatry of the leaders was great, and though they thought it was unknown, the LORD was fully aware. Their ignorance of God was so deep that they thought that He didn’t care about what was going on with them, Israel, or in the world. They forgot God’s great history of caring for them, all the way from bringing them out of Egypt, leading them (not forsaking them) in their travels through the desert (though they had forsaken Him), fighting for them as they took the promised land, and providing leaders.

Similar words to those above are recorded in Ezekiel 9:9, “Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” This is what the people were saying. The attitude of the leaders, above, had taken hold of the whole nation. Ezekiel was told that because of their view of God, their city was full of blood and perverseness. Like their leaders, their ignorance of God was so deep that they thought that He didn’t care about what was going on in the world. They, too, forgot God’s great history of caring for them. Their idolatry ruined their city, and ultimately led to them being taken captive.

This kind of thinking about God continues to this very day. Many believe it. But, just as it was a lie in the days of Israel’s captivity, so it is today. The scriptures that they had told a different story about God. So do the scriptures that we have today. In both He is called good and righteous and holy and faithful and merciful and loving, to name only a few. Colossians 1:16, 17 tell us, “…For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” That is, He holds all things together. Throughout history it has been the case that the things that happen are because of mankind’s sinful nature, not God’s lack of interest. We think that He won’t take action regarding our sin, and when He doesn’t we conclude that he doesn’t know or care.

About 100 years after Ezekiel, it was recorded in Jeremiah 51:5, “For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” In spite of their sin, the nations of Israel and Judah had not been forsaken by God. In the context of this verse in Jeremiah, God promises to bring Israel and Judah out of captivity, back into their land, and back to Himself.

In John 14:1-3 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Jesus’ care for His people is evident in these words. He is not ignorant of what is going on in their lives.

All of these last few scriptures show that the LORD sees, and neither has He forsaken the earth. Opposite to what the leaders in Ezekiel’s day said, Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.”

Rejoice, the Lord is king! Your Lord and king adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice! (Charles Wesley)