“I’m not kidding!” It’s an expression often used when a warning is not taken seriously or, at least, given some attention. To ignore such a red-flag statement implies that the one giving notice is either powerless to make good on the threat or it was given in the heat of some conflict, just a radical heads-up, an exaggeration (many of us have been guilty of using hyperbole [exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally] in order to make a point). However, when God gives us a warning He is serious. He does not overstate a matter, amplify out of proportion or dramatize for effect any of His cautionary pronouncements. He is not kidding.
It is a curious study in humanity to pursue the “reasons” that people ignore God. Are God’s pronouncements too hard to understand? No, for we can “know the truth,” according to Jesus (John 8:32). Is it the case that God is power-challenged, unable to see through a directive that He has made? No, for Paul, in his potter-controlling-the- clay comment, implies God is all powerful (Romans 9:21). Is it the case that some people arrogantly think they are the exception to Divine rule (Romans 2:11)? Or, do people just not understand that God’s love has its limits (Deuteronomy 12:31-32; cf. Proverbs 6:16-19)? Or, maybe (no offense intended), people just don’t think (Haggai 1:5, 7)? Who knows what goes on in the minds of humans?
This much we can know, if we are willing. When God, through the prophet Ezekiel, warned Israel of impending disaster, He was not kidding. Knowing God, in part, is knowing that He is serious when He warns us. He does so for our own good, in deep and abiding love and with patience beyond the call of duty. However, if one will not know the Lord by heeding warnings, one will know the Lord when His warnings come to fruition. So, the Children of Israel ignored Ezekiel to their own condemnation. “And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them” (Ezekiel 6:10). God was not kidding.
What shall it be: calamity or compliance? “For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I’m not kidding.