Ezekiel 20:45–49 (NKJV)
45 Furthermore the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 46 “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South, 47 and say to the forest of the South, ‘Hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. 48 All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.” ’ ”
49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! They say of me, ‘Does he not speak parables?’ ”
The prophet is here given an oracle for the people of the South, a forested land. This indicates Judah, the southern kingdom of the house of Israel. He uses the same language of fire that He used in the previous prophecy declaring that the vine would be consumed with fire to now describe a forest fire. The forests of Judah will be set on fire with judgment. It will not be easily quenched, for the Lord has set the fire. Ezekiel sees the faces of the people and knows that they will not hear this parable, and asks for a remedy. God gives a further prophecy in the next chapter, but for now leaves this one as a valid message for the people.
Fire is used many times to describe the vengeance and justice of God measured out against those who come against Him. God is fierce and sudden against His enemies. In an age of grace, we often forget the powerful force of God’s vengeance. Covered by the blood of Christ, we are safe. But, in the words of Jonathan Edwards, do not become a sinner in the hands of an angry God!