Ezekiel 21 starts with Ezekiel being told to “Prophecy against the land of Israel” and that God “will cut off from you both righteous and wicked … and all flesh shall know that I am the LORD” (21:2,4,5). In effect God is now saying, ‘I mean what I say’. The fascinating part of the chapter is the long-term prophecy Ezekiel receives, “… O profane wicked prince of Israel … thus says the LORD … take off the crown. Things shall not remain … A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it … until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him” (verses 25-27).

This is what happened, and we await the completion of the prophecy. The last proper king in Jerusalem was killed; the Jews have not had a king since. Kings Herod and Agrippa in the New Testament were Idumeans appointed by the Romans. The Jewish leaders in the days of Jesus were proud of their heritage, but they said they had “no king but Caesar”. Their pride was self-centred, they had no meaningful concept of the God they claimed to worship – let us make sure that we do!

Today’s chapter in Luke has Jesus portraying the contrasting attitudes of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector as they went into the Temple to pray. The Pharisee suffered from ‘I’ trouble. He “standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes …’” (18:11,12). In contrast, the Tax Collector humbly asked, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner”. The Lord makes the point, “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (verse 14). May we absorb the point so that we may be there, and be among the “exalted” when “all flesh shall know” there is a God.

The prophets became conscious of this; this is how they were able to endure in all their difficult surroundings: how difficult are our times going to become? Remember the words of Jeremiah, “O LORD of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause” (20:12). May we be there at that time when “all flesh shall know” there is a Creator. Let us pray now that our Lord will be merciful to us.