9:9. This is a paradigm verse for handling some of the current popular atheisms in the culture. Before we dismiss the idea as unfair, to criticize someone's atheism as borne along by sin, let's look at the passage.
We all are aware, or can easily become aware, of how insurgencies and counter-measures proceed and escalate: one act is said to be justified as a response to some other recent act, and it seems like so long ago that it originally started, that it is impossible to assign blame to a beginning.
That's the kind of "explanation" offered here for the actions of the house of Israel and Judah. First point: the Lord did this and that in the past. Second point: the Lord doesn't see what we're doing anymore.
This is not the only form of atheism, but this form of it, where its assertions are both an excuse ("the Lord does not see") and an attempt to explain the cause ("the Lord has forsaken the land") -- are not self-consistent! If the Lord has forsaken the land, it is because He saw what they were doing! Indeed, that's one of the points of Ezekiel in today's One Year Bible chapters. Ezekiel is NOT pointing out what they are doing TO God, God is pointing it all out TO Ezekiel!
C.S. Lewis describes a state in his atheistic days when he was both asserting that God did not exist, simultaneously with being angry for God not existing. This, we notice, is the Ez 9:9 thing too.
9:4 says what people in the meantime can do about it. Groaning gets noticed, by God at least. People wonder what good groaning can do, but sighing and groaning (9:4) is an honest response to it, far more honest than some other forms of response, such as, as perpetrators try and do sometimes, making empty promises, or making excuses.
And so the etiology of a kind of atheism is showing here, we back in the day, about 590 B.C. The doing of destructive stuff, coupled with saying that God has left the building, coupled with saying God doesn't see it. Those kinds of patterns have been around while.
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