The Worthwhile Burning of the Unworthy People
The former prophecy (Ezek. 14:1-23) was no doubt offensive to the sin-diseased people, so the LORD reckoned with them further, pleading: firstly, a parable which justified the worthiness of burning all worthless objects/souls (“Is it meet for any work?” – Ezek. 15:2-6), which meant, in turn, the dedication of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the fire (Ezek. 15:6). The parable elaborated upon the worthwhile burning of the worthlessness people, that they were worthless before and after the fire by the nature of their despicable persons (Ezek. 15:5). Worthlessness here rendered is, in other words, unworthiness. The question, “Is it meet [worthy] for any work?” (Ezek. 15:4), proves that the people were unworthy of the Kingdom of God (God’s work!). This frightening parable, depicting the worthwhile burning of unworthy people, should compel all saints to study and understand the Doctrine of Worthiness according to the scriptures. My reader, are you worthy of the Kingdom of God (1 Thess. 2:11-12, 2 Thess. 1:5)?
The whole compass of the Apostle Paul’s ministry finds significance in the Doctrine of Worthiness. Speaking to the Christians of Thessalonica, Paul said: “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, Who hath called you unto His Kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:11-12). All forms of ministerial communication and verbal influence (exhorting, comforting, and charging) were mustered and employed in hopes that the Christians of Thessalonica would be worthy! Or, as Paul phrased it, “that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God” (2 Thess. 1:5). This unknown and unpreached doctrine, the Doctrine of Worthiness, was the end goal and chief aim of Paul’s preaching every time he preached! And, should we be surprised (“I have written to him the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” – Hos. 8:12)?
Worthiness is the response of saving faith, and since faith must be kept initially, presently and progressively, and finally, so also worthiness is spoken of as an attribute of initial salvation (Matt. 10:37-39, 22:8), present progressive salvation (1 Thess. 2:11-12, Eph. 4:1), and final salvation (2 Thess. 1:5, 11, Rev. 3:4, Luke 20:35-36, 21:36). The call to worthiness is a call to live in and walk in the Presence of God, to be conformed to what God is BY DEED. We are called unto the fellowship of God’s Son in this saving union of oneness, and when that fellowship or communion with Him is broken in our personal relationship to God’s Presence that dwells in us, then the following experiences of the gospel, also described as our calling, are not experienced, hence we are to be blamed instead of being judged “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8), and we will not be recognized by God as His sons (2 Cor. 6:18-7:1). What we are by nature, we must become by DEED, and this is worthiness. This is Paul’s continual burden for the Church of God. Your eternity will be decided upon in the language, “if you will be accounted worthy” (Lk. 20:35, 21:36). All those who enter Paradise will enter because their life-relationship to the Gospel call was “worthy”, in God’s estimation (Rev. 3:4).
Behavior “as dear children” (Eph. 5:1) of God, is, behavior “as obedient children” (1 Pet. 1:14), and at Judgment Day they will be the “sons of God without rebuke” (Php. 2:17). Living otherwise, men will be called “the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1). Their eternal fate resides like the solemn warning: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6, Col. 3:6). Such persons are living in a manner which does not represent the calling to be holy, or as Paul said, “called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2, Rom. 1:7), therefore they are living in a way which does not “becometh saints” (Eph. 5:3), and that is to say that they are not living in a way which is worthy of the name saint (“holy one”), and likewise they are not living in a way “as becometh the gospel” call (Php. 1:27). Becometh is a synonym to worthiness. These verses I have cited are in various places throughout scripture, and they address different nature-to-deed call of worthiness, but what you need to see is that God must “account” you “worthy” to be called “the children of God”, and when you see this, then you will understand all the argumentation which we shall soon cite and examine.
How serious is the Doctrine of Worthiness? Hear God through the prophet Ezekiel! Transitioning from parabolic terms to plain speech, the LORD declared that there would be an inescapable fire to devour all the present-tense inhabitants of Jerusalem (whether they abode in the City or went elsewhere; Ezek. 15:7) because of their unworthiness! So, the surviving escapees would be made to give glory to an inescapable LORD (“ye shall know that I am the LORD” – Ezek. 15:7). The escapees escaped an inescapable LORD, worshipping! How can it be? Sovereign Mercy. Nevertheless, and at last, the indisputable (though highly contested) final estate of the Land of Judah and Jerusalem at the conclusion of the Tribulation would be known by all (“I will make the Land desolate” – Ezek. 15:8).
The primary object of illustration in the parable chosen by the LORD was a Vine Tree. He said, “Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel” (Ezek. 15:4). The authorial intent of application made by the LORD was said to be, “As the Vine Tree among the Trees of the Forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Ezek. 15:6). This fire of tribulation was so inescapable by all the present-tense inhabitants of Jerusalem that, it did not matter if they escaped the City and went elsewhere or not, the LORD promised: “I will set My face against them [the inhabitants of Jerusalem]” (Ezek. 15:7). This fixation of God’s face had a direct goal, which was,
“And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set My face against them.” – Ezek. 15:7
The fire was inescapable no matter the location of the people! “They shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall DEVOUR THEM”, God said, to the end that the remnant plucked out of the fire would give Him the glory (“a brand plucked from the fire” – Zech. 3:2)! How sparse would this company of people be, my reader, seeing that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were identified by God as Evil Figs (Evil Figs: Jer. 24:8-10, 29:16-19)? “For the LORD shall judge His people, and repent Himself for his servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left” (Deut. 32:36).