One of the difficulties we looked at yesterday in God's plan for the unfaithful in Ezekiel was the idea that God would not let persons turn to Him for help once they had turned away. This is difficult because throughout the Bible, God teaches that He longs for His people to turn to Him for help; Christians preach all the time that we should turn to Him for help; He even grieves over those who do not turn to Him for help.
But here He is, saying that He won't even let this people turn to Him for help. He won't allow it. He won't help them.
What gives is that God will not be your back-up plan. He won't be another one of your whims. In this passage, we're looking at a people who have chosen to turn their backs on Him, and what God is saying here is that if you're going to make a choice, you have to understand that that choice comes with consequences.
If it doesn't, you haven't made a choice at all.
This is something that our modern (or rather, postmodern) world doesn't understand very well. Today, it's almost expected that we'd all just fly by the seat of our pants, doing whatever feels good, pursuing whatever strikes us as good or valuable or meaningful at any given time. We talk about choice like it's the foundation of our existence, but honestly, we're living a life that doesn't require us to choose at all.
We don't have to make commitments any more; nobody expects us to. Things change. The world is constantly in flux. We can't be expected to make any real choices because the circumstances of our experience or our interaction with the world might change at any second and necessitate that we change our minds. So we never actually make them up, never choose anything at all. And that also means we never choose for or against God.
He's just one of those things that we might happen upon - or not - depending on how life falls.
And our God who is never-changing says that's not good enough. Our God who has created us to choose things says that's not how it works. Our God who has given us free will to decide what we want our lives to look like says we were not meant to live this amorphous life that doesn't look like anything at all. We have to choose. And if we have to choose, we have to accept the consequences.
So if you choose not to be God's people, don't call on Him for help. That's how it works. That's what you're deciding by your choice. You say you don't need God; don't cry out to Him. God's not doing that to you; you're choosing that. Choices have consequences.
Now, that doesn't mean that if, sometime in the future, you consider your position carefully and come into new evidence that makes you turn toward God that He will not accept you. His testimony on this is clear - anyone who wants to change their life, turn toward Him, repent of their unfaithfulness, and embrace His gift of the Cross is welcome to do so at any time. In fact, nothing would make Him happier. He welcomes you with open arms.
But this, too, is a choice, not a whim. If you're only crying out for God when you've got a problem that's bigger than you, you haven't made a choice for Him. If you only turn to Him when you've run out of other options, with the plan to turn back once you figure some things out, then you haven't made a choice for Him. If your longing for God goes no further than surface panic and doesn't echo out of the depths of your heart, you haven't made a choice for Him. You're using Him.
And God will not be used.
That's all that's going on here. God says, yes, you have free will, and He will never make you choose Him. But free will implies that you can make a choice, and if you haven't made a choice, you haven't exercised your free will. If you have made a choice, you have to live with the consequences of that choice. Which means...if you choose not to be His people, you can't pretend He is your God.