“…then they will know that I am the Lord.” Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as He wants to be known?
DAY ONE – Ezekiel 9-12
Public executions have become few and far between. Those we may have witnessed in the media are very solemn and sobering events–quiet meditation, soft movements, last visits and personal wishes, and always the hope of a last-minute legal stay granting a bit more time. But the end does come, and the records are closed. In Ezekiel’s vision, as it unfolded in Jerusalem, and thereafter, when he was back in Babylon, two major shifts were taking place. In the first, as Ezekiel watched, God’s ‘glory,’ that is His demonstrable Presence in the temple, lifted from His resting place and hovered over the court of the Lord while judgment commenced in the city. Some throughout the city were given a mark of immunity, saving them. The rest faced various death threats. Once the judgment was carried out, the glory of the Lord removed from the temple, hovered over the mountain to the east, and then was gone. Judah was now desolate. Then, back in Babylon, the early captives were scoffing at Ezekiel’s pronouncements, believing that his prophecies need only a bit of ‘cooling’ time, after which they would be meaningless. Everything would return to some order, and things would work out. They even had a proverb for that. But then God said that He was giving a new proverb: “The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!” Mercy had been shown; patience had worn thin; the Glory was gone, and the siege was at hand. To a people who had believed Jerusalem to be impregnable a new light dawned–their protection was removed, and they were now at the mercies of their tormentors.
Is there any good news? There is always good news, because Yahweh God is the Creator of Good News. Amid the prophecies of justice and judgment comes this news: Ezekiel 11:16-21 (NLT) 16 “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17 I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’ 18 “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. 19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. This very pronouncement has in it the miraculous character of God’s hand. Only the Lord can take the worst situations and turn them into something with positive outcomes. Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
DAY TWO – Ezekiel 13-16
When our first daughter was born, it was at a time when not even the husband was allowed in delivery, so I had to wait for the announcement and first viewing through the glass. That was Friday. After doing Sunday services I arrived Monday morning to bring my wife and baby home. As we got out of the car I picked up this beautiful little girl and laid her on my arm with her head in my hand. This was the first time I held her! Some months later I was out late at night reminiscing and ruminating on fatherhood. Joyfully I accepted my responsibility to bring her up, educate her, provide for her and be her father. All I asked of this infant girl was that she be my daughter; she would have to worry about nothing else. I would see that she made it to adulthood. I LOVED her. I still do. This is the Father heart of God. He loves His people. He loves the world. He said to Israel, “I will be your God, you will be my people–my sons and daughters.” And through Ezekiel the Lord told the story of finding baby Israel still unwashed, thrown out like a piece of trash by the mother, lying in a field. He picked her up, washed her, cared for her and watched her grow to adulthood. Then He took her as a bride, offering His covenant to only her. But the story goes downhill from there until Israel has completed cycles of prostitution with everyone passing by, offering herself to the gods of the nations while forgetting her ‘husband’–the Lord God. As a husband and father I can understand the Lord’s passion if a wife or daughter forsakes love and home to try to find something to satisfy her desires, family ties broken and ruined. In those circumstances would I want supposed friends to come along and whisper lies to me that this is all going to stop, that everything is going to be okay? And would I want supposed friends, claiming prophetic gifts, to visit my wife or daughter with lies that they are okay, that they are immune to rejection and destruction? Should I stand by and make no sound, no protest, no claim to that which at one time was exclusive to me? Should I be inclined to congratulate my wife’s lovers and wish them well and tell them I love them? And should I finally say that we are all just one big, happy family and the world is well? NOT!
As a father and lover, I value the relationships of family enough to humble myself and do all in my power to make whole those who are the objects of my love. Not being God, my humanity will leave room for the unknown and the unexpected outcome, whether good or bad. But even I, created in the image of God, am capable of continuing to love and give myself in favor of those whose love I crave. And in that sense, I understand the messages Ezekiel is giving to the nation of Judah, now divided between their homeland and Babylon. GOD CARES, GOD RESTORES.
DAY THREE – Ezekiel 17-20
God has no grandchildren! Yahweh God, whom we love and serve, is timeless. He lives in eternity, a dimension unknown to us except in theory. When I turned ten, my beloved grandmother passed to the Lord, and hers was the last funeral I attended until I was an adult. That was over sixty-five years ago. I still hold blessed memories of her. Nine years ago I laid my father to rest. Two generations of living beings have preceded me into the eternity in which I believe; and one day I will follow. So generations come and go–grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and on and on. Memories are made and lost. Now we talk about DNA to reveal to us where our ancestors came from. However, I am much more interested in where we are going! Repeatedly the Lord sent His prophets with His messages to Abraham’s descendants–the children of Israel (Jacob)–to reveal His unique relationship and covenant with them. Sometimes using stories, sometimes speaking plainly, God recounted their history from the days of Egypt and before, all the way down the centuries to the present exile in Babylon. The Jews from Judah could trace their ancestry by genealogy back over one thousand years to their patriarch Abraham! And yet God has no grandchildren, since He has no genealogy. Every human since creation has opportunity to be in direct relationship with the Everlasting, Mighty God the Creator! And for every one of us who enter His covenant by faith and obedience, we are first generation sons and daughters! In every generation through all time, God has continually revealed Himself as ‘I AM,’ meaning He is universal and eternal. As we read these ancient messages through the prophet of the exile, as Ezekiel was, we are reading as if it is today and we are the ones to whom the message is coming. God’s words still ring true, and His messages are still relevant, because as King Solomon, the wise man, once said, “There is nothing new under the sun!”
From today’s chapters then, we remind ourselves that God always sees, always cares, and always acts in a just and righteous manner. Every benevolence He can bestow, He bestows. Every measure He can take, He takes. And every person He can receive under His covenant, He receives. He spelled it out clearly. He looks for humility and repentance, not perfection. He looks for response and obedience, not rebellion. And He looks for a good and willing heart in His people. Why would we want to pervert the truth of God into a lie which misrepresents Him and turns people away? Why would we ever want to ignore Him or refuse Him His proper place in our life? From a thankful heart of gratitude then, I turn my face to my God and seek His guidance for my life today.
DAY FOUR – Ezekiel 21-24
“You will know that I am the Lord.” “…then they will know that I am the Lord.” Over and over again Ezekiel’s prophecy ends with these words. As his messages take on more somber and savage tones, the predictions of terrible destruction and atrocities increase with intensity. As I read through these chapters my mind flashed back upon God the Creator, the Sovereign Lord over all that is made. Can we imagine that the heavens and earth were created in pristine glory… so much so that when God saw it He declared it good, and the “morning stars sang together for joy”? It was into this glorious Eden that our Lord placed earth’s first couple, created in His own image. For months we have been reading the history of humankind from God’s point of view, the Bible, which is His revealed Word to us. And now we have finally witnessed the total corruption of His image in redeemed humans, for the First Nation of Israel utterly failed God in their elevated status as the people of God. The Lord’s Name and Honor were shamed and insulted by their rampant idolatry and perversion, the shedding of innocent blood in sacrificing their children to the fire gods, and filling the land with corruption of all that is good. It was so beyond the pale that Ezekiel emphasized his messages with a slashing sword! The unthinkable happened, and Jerusalem, destitute Jerusalem, was about to lose its pride and joy, its last vestige of God’s glorious Presence, the Temple. First the Assyrians, and now the Babylonians, were unleashed against the holy people, and the handwriting was on the wall. Soon all came crashing down, and the corrupted people, having lost their last hopes of respect, finally humbled themselves and rejected their sins of idolatry. “Then they will know that I AM the Lord.”
From Moses, the man of God, come these words — Psalm 90:10-12 (WEB) The days of our years are seventy, Or even by reason of strength eighty years; Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, For it passes quickly, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of your anger, Your wrath according to the fear that is due to you? 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. What is a heart of wisdom? It is the heart that has been disciplined to the revelation of Almighty God and His sovereign grace and mercy. It is the heart that is trained to humble itself before God and seek His glory in life. And it is the heart that has learned how temporary everything is. In the final analysis, life must begin and end with the Lord. Then we can know true wisdom and have understanding of all that is important. What does it take for us to welcome the Lord in every aspect of life and seek His divine will in everything we do? Each of us has to answer that question. “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
DAY FIVE – Ezekiel 25-28
We are observing a divine phenomenon in the 20th and 21st centuries that was predicted by the ancient prophets, including Ezekiel. Carrying forward the theme “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” Yahweh God predicted judgment on all the nations who either afflicted Israel and Judah or rejoiced over their downfall. And in each case, as He described what would happen to those nations and how some of them would never be rebuilt or rise again, He reaffirmed “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Tyre, the island city built on a rock off the north coast of Israel, was especially singled out by the Lord, and her king was described in cosmic-like terms. Take time to reread the passage in Ezekiel 28:11-19. Who is this king of Tyre? From what we know of cosmic origins in early biblical history, this ‘person’ sounds very much like other descriptions of Lucifer, known to us as the devil. Ezekiel 28:16-17 (NLT) Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. 7 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. Consider the following choice words–rich commerce, violence, pride, wisdom, corrupted, love of splendor. We witness these things every day in the affairs of nations, of all humankind! Is it possible that this king of Tyre is a human example of those things in temporal life that God hates, that He exposes for all to see, that He eventually throws to the ground? Is it conceivable that this king of Tyre is a type of devil who embodied such evil motives and actions that God’s judgment on him is a warning to all? And can we believe that there actually is a cosmic war ongoing in another dimension that affects life here on earth? If the original creation was pristine, what happened? Where does all the violence and disruption come from? Why is there so much fighting going on all the time around the world? When will it all end? If we don’t know the answer to all these questions, here is what we DO KNOW– 1) Yahweh God is the Sovereign of the universe, and His word and will govern affairs among humankind. 2) Predictions made in history by the biblical prophets have been fulfilled with uncanny accuracy. 3) Israel was regathered from the nations and is now the world’s focal point for all international relations. 4) What was once the domain of Almighty God is STILL the domain of Almighty God, so we must remember these words: “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”