I was reading in Ezekiel the other day and came across this vision:
9 And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” 10 So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel. 11 In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.
12 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” 13 Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.”
14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz. 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”
16 He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.
In this vision, Ezekiel is observing the elders of Israel worshiping false gods in God's holy temple. An atrocity to be sure. But as I read it, my thoughts were brought to Jesus on the cross being crucified and His words: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And as I thought about that I asked myself, how far do these words reach?
The image I had was like a stone thrown into a body of water and you can see the ripple effect extending farther and farther. So as Jesus said these words "Father forgive them" who exactly were those words directed at?
- The soldiers who crucified him?
- The Jewish leaders who handed him over to Pilate?
- Pilate and Herod who did nothing to stop it and asked for Him to be beaten?
- Judas who betrayed Him with a kiss?
- His disciples who abandoned Him in His moment of need?
Did the words extend back in time?
- To the elders of Israel worshiping false gods in His Holy Temple?
- To David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband?
- To the Israelites who grumbled and complained in the desert?
- To the Egyptians who persecuted God's people?
- To Cain when he killed his brother Abel?
- To Eve as she took a bite into the forbidden fruit?
Did the words extend into the future?
- To the trampling of Jerusalem in 70 AD?
- To the massacre of Native Americans?
- To the bonds of slavery past, present and future?
- To the Nazis during the holocaust?
- To me when I lost my temper with my daughter?
The night before Jesus went to the cross, He said:
7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
If in the moment of killing the Son of God - the offer was forgiveness - and this act was a revelation of the heart of God - then just how far does it reach?