When we review from God’s Word what He tells us about His laws – we can know this statement in verse 25 of Ezekiel 20 cannot be complete as presented.
In Psalm 19:7-10 we read: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Romans 7:12 tells us “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”
What then, could this verse in Ezekiel be revealing to us? Much can be learned by reading the preceding 24 verses of this 20th chapter of Ezekiel. Israel, of course, had been in captivity under the rule of the Egyptians for some 400 years, and had totally lost any knowledge of God and of His Ways. God had determined to reveal Himself once again to these descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).
In verse 11 of this chapter we see, that God gave them His statutes and judgments: “…which if a man does, he shall live by them.” Continue – verses 12-13:
“Moreover, I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths.”
Thus, God lifted His hand against them (verses 23-24): “Also I lifted My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols.”
Somewhat clearer than the Authorized Version, the New King James Bible gives a little more understanding relative to verse 25: Therefore, God “…GAVE THEM UP to statutes that were not good.” The Living Bible states it this way: “I let them adopt customs and laws which were worthless. Through the keeping of them they could not attain (eternal) life.”
These were laws and statutes they had determined for themselves to live by. Yet, in so doing, they could not please God!
What were these laws – these statutes – these judgments that the people took to themselves? They are the laws Paul spoke of in the second chapter of the letter to the Colossians. He described these laws as “philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and NOT according to Christ” (verse 8). Paul identified these human “regulations” (verse 20) as “commandments and doctrines of men” (verse 22).
In Psalm 81:11-12 God reveals exactly what He did in this matter with Israel. “But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.”
Notice, also, Acts 7:41-42: “And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven (false worship), as it is written in the book of the Prophets…”
Yes, God allowed them to go their own way. It was their choice – as it is with God’s people, today! Proverbs 14:12 tells us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Moses explained to Israel in Deuteronomy 4:5-8 that God’s righteous laws were for their wisdom and understanding in the sight of all the nations. This was a blessing to them from the Almighty!
Notice verse 8 of Deuteronomy 4 (Authorized Version): “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” And in Deuteronomy 6:24-25 (Authorized Version): “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is today. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all the commandments before our God, as He hath commanded.”
We, as God’s people, today, would do well to follow these righteous instructions from our God! For more information, please read our free booklets, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” and, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”