Troublesome Topic: A Remnant Will Be Preserved

Lesson 4 of 5

At what moment is the opportunity to repent replaced by judgement with no opportunity to repent?

Up till now I have been saying that the message of the prophets was that the time for repentance had passed and it was time for judgment. However, that statement needs to be revised a little bit, but I have purposefully waited until this moment to revise it.

I believe there was opportunity to repent up until the punishment/judgment started. For the prophets, the time for punishment was so close that it was communicated as if that door had already closed. The urgency of the message was intended to cause their listeners to throw themselves on the mercy of God, perhaps He would relent and forgive. In contrast, if they had communicated that there was only a little more time for repentance, this rebellious people would not have been moved to repentance, but would have continued waiting.

The picture we are given of God in the entire Bible is that until judgment has begun, there is opportunity to repent. Repentance always requires more than an attempt to get out of punishment. Repentance must be genuine and must be accompanied by humility, submission and obedience which brings changes in action. But if repentance is genuine, God will forgive, unless His punishment/judgment has begun.

In the time of the prophets God’s mighty arm was upraised, ready to strike the punishing blow. But as long as His arm was poised in the upraised position and had not yet begun its downward motion, there was still opportunity for repentance. That is how great the mercy of God is!

The theme of opportunity is not stated, but it is seen in the stories we read in the Old Testament. Those stories serve to show what God is like and how He acts. They are consistent with what the Former Covenant taught about God, but they also bring balance.

A Remnant Will Be Preserved

Alongside the theme of imminent judgment, there was another common theme in the prophets which demonstrated God’s mercy and grace. The prophets spoke of a remnant that would remain and be restored to God who would fulfill His promise of providing salvation. This theme of restoration is very common among the prophets.

It is truly amazing to see first of all God’s incredible patience with this rebellious lot, and then His remarkable expression of true grace when He promised to keep a remnant, for which He would provide full salvation. All deserved death, no one had earned the right to be kept alive as part of the remnant; it was purely God’s grace.

There have been some theologians who claim the Old Testament is only about Law, and the New Testament is only about grace. They see no grace in the Old Testament. How terribly wrong that assumption is, for the Old Testament is replete with God’s grace, expressed in a multitude of ways. Also, the New Testament assumes the reader knows all the characteristics of God and the principles for living taught by the Former Covenant.

I now return to Ezekiel who saw the glory of God leave the temple (chapters 10 & 11) as a sign that, as a result of their continual abandonment of Him, He had finally abandoned them. However, the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel did not end on this sad note; rather he received a promise that God would once again establish a relationship with His people. It came in the form of a vision recorded in chapter 43 of his writings:

Ezekiel 43:2


Look! The glory of the ELOHIM of ISRAEL came from the East

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This is amazing! The glory of the CREATOR AND RULER of THOSE WHO NEVER LET GO OF GOD was returning! It was coming back from the place of its origin, the place from which everything good comes.

Ezekiel 43:4


the glory of YHVH (read Adonai) entered the temple through the gate which faces East

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The glory of THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD returned to the place it had earlier abandoned,

the center of spiritual growth and worship! It came in with clear proof that it is good, it is vital for life, and it cannot be manipulated by man.

Ezekiel 43:5


and the glory of YHVH (read Adonai) filled the temple


Then the awe-inspiring fullness of THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD completely filled and occupied

the place of spiritual growth and worship in a powerful demonstration that God was back!

The people were reaping the consequences they had earned for violating God’s covenant. He could have left it at that, but He did not. Instead, because of His immense mercy and grace, He promised that His presence would return, and would do so without holding anything back. When He came, He would bring reconciliation, restoration, peace, protection, grace and much more to the remnant He had preserved.

The next lesson in all three series on the Covenants is: Something New!



The glory of the Lord returned from the same direction (the East) in which it had left back in chapter 10 of Ezekiel.


In a Jewish way of thinking, the fact that the glory of God came from the East indicated something about its importance and its quality.