As I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, I have underlined and highlighted the same phrase over and over again. When a theme is repeated, I can’t help but think it’s extremely important. After all, the Bible is long enough, right? God wouldn’t repeat Himself unless it were critical that we catch what He’s trying to convey! So, what is this all important phrase?
THEN THEY WILL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD.
Have you ever questioned if this “whole God thing” is real? Is there truly only one way into heaven? Is God really going to judge people at the end of time for their deeds and based on whether or not their sin was covered by the blood of Jesus? Is our purpose truly to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? While I personally believe the answers to these questions are yes, I’m not the One who is truly able to prove it. I can give my testimony of times I’ve seen God act on my behalf or read His Word and knew in my spirit it was truth. But, only God can fully make His presence known. And throughout Ezekiel, God explains His actions and says “Then they will know that I am the Lord!”
How many times is this phrase used? Not being a math person, I want to say “A TON!” But, let’s look together: Ezekiel 6:7, 6:10, 6:13, 7:4, 11:10, 11:12, 12:16, 13:14, 13:23, 14:8, 20:26, 20:42, 20:44, 22:16, 23:49, 24:24, 24:27, 25:11, 25:17, 26:6, 28:24, 28:26, 29:9, 29:16, 29:21, 30:19, 32:15, 34:27, 34:30, 35:15, 36:11, 36:23, 36:38, 37:6, 37:13, 37:14… And I’ll stop there because I’m sure you’re not reading every verse and have lost count already (plus, I’m only up to chapter 38 in my New Living Translation Bible). The point is this, it’s obviously an important phrase to reflect on.
How will we know that God is the Lord? What do some of these verses tell us? In the references from Ezekiel 6 to 11, we see that when God punished the Israelites and allowed them to die for the idolatry and sins they committed – when they saw all that He predicted come true, then they would know that God alone is the Lord and that He was serious. In Ezekiel 12, the Bible tells us that God would spare a few Israelites from death by war, famine or disease so they could confess to their captors how wicked they had been, so that they would know that He was the Lord. Later in this chapter, God warned against misleading predictions of peace in Israel, saying that He was the Lord and what He threatens always happens (Ezekiel 12:25). Ezekiel 13 continues with judgment against the false prophets who were giving false hope rather than warnings to repent. When God crushed them, then He would reveal that He alone was the Lord. When God crushed the leaders who lead others into idolatry, then He would show that He alone was the Lord (Ezekiel 14:8). When God devastated those who worshiped other gods, He would reveal that He alone was the Lord (Ezekiel 20:26).
In Ezekiel 25, we learn that when God inflicts His revenge, we will know that He is the Lord (verse 17). We see when Israel stops trusting in neighbors and puts their faith in God, then they will know that He alone is Lord (Ezekiel 30:19).
Opposite from the disaster and destruction, God brings words of healing and hope to show His nature. “…And I will display my holiness in you as all nations watch. Then when I have brought you home to the land I promised your ancestors, then you will know that I am the Lord. You will look back at all your sins and hate yourselves because of the evil you have done. You will know that I am the Lord, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness, says the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 20:41b-44). Does this verse excite you as much as it did me when I read it? While God does what He says He will do, He is also merciful even when we don’t deserve it!
In Ezekiel 34, we saw that God would once again show mercy to Israel and let the land produce bumper crops, stop wild animals and neighboring nations from attacking the Israelites, and free them from slavery – then they would know that He alone was the Lord. Ezekiel 36:9 starts with “See I am concerned for you, and I will come to help you…” and verse 11 goes on to say “…I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 36 continues saying that when God displays His holiness through Israel – not because they deserve it, but because He is protecting His Name – then everyone would know that He alone is the Lord.
Today, do you know where Israel is? Could you point to it on a map or recognize the name when it’s on the news? Do you find it “coincidental” that this is the only nation that we read about from Biblical times until now? I hope you don’t miss that God has built this place and protected its name to bring Himself glory and honor! He is faithful even when His people aren’t!
And my hope for you as you read this is that you KNOW that there is one true sovereign Lord.
I have been seeing some horrific stories in the news lately – stories that make my heart ache. And I wonder, where is our fear of the Lord? If we know God – if we truly believe that He exists, that He is the Judge and that all His promises (blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience) are true – then our behavior ought to reflect some fear of our Maker. I’ll give you a few recent examples receiving media attention. In Baltimore (not all that far from Lancaster, PA where I grew up), a man died potentially as a result of how he was arrested and subsequent rioting began. Opinions about the story were everywhere, and I saw one amusing picture on Facebook that said “Don’t want to be mistreated by a cop? How about trying not breaking the law?” And there’s some truth to that – having fear for God and respect for the laws of the Country in which you live will prevent you from having such encounters. But, on the other side of the coin, did the police officers in question have proper fear of God as well? I’m not judging anyone here (I know many folks who are cops and I am grateful that there are people willing to walk into the worst of situations to protect others from harm! They are truly heroes!), but I’m just looking at all sides of the story as a complete outsider. Do the rioters fear the Lord and recognize Him as judge? Do those in the media fear God when they pick which sides of the story to tell? If we would all start with recognizing God as THE Lord and understand that He sees all and knows each one of us, perhaps it would help keep us “in check” when the temptation arises to mistreat others or let a situation get out of hand.
Another appalling story (which I’ve only read a few of the details on) was about a man who was shot in the parking lot of a restaurant we used to enjoy by another driver due to a road rage incident. Sadly, the man was shot IN FRONT OF HIS KIDS WHO WERE IN THE CAR. How do you get so angry behind the wheel of a vehicle that you find it necessary to pull over and shoot someone? I understand anger – anger so deep that it makes you not think! But a genuine fear of God – knowing that He is the sovereign Lord – should keep us from pulling any triggers (literally!).
I’m concerned for our nation. Just like the Israelites, we have witnessed prosperity and blessing and abundance. But, also like the Israelites, we have allowed pride and the subtle “worship” of our blessings to cloud our judgment. Have we lost a sense of Who God is or what He has promised in His Word? Have we missed that there is one Judge (so thankfully any opinions I have on any of these situations are truly of little value!) and that He knows each of our hearts? Do we recognize that God has been merciful to us, even when we don’t deserve it? Can we take a moment to pause and reflect and realize that many of His actions have been so that we can KNOW THAT HE IS THE LORD!?
This is National Day of Prayer. Will you join with me in interceding for our nation? Can we ask God to give us all a healthy fear of Him, which the Bible tells us is the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 9:10)? Will you choose this day to KNOW and accept that God is the One and Only Sovereign Lord? Can we praise Him together and ask for His undeserved mercy?
Dear Heavenly Father, we love You and praise You. We acknowledge that You are the One and Only Sovereign Lord. We confess that we have been guilty of the same sins the Israelites committed – we have taken for granted the many blessings You have given us and spent our time, resources and love on things that are of lesser importance and value than You. Will you please forgive us? Will you forgive that we have lost our fear of You and have been proud of “our” accomplishments that are truly Your blessings? Will you forgive us for mistreating others in rage or hatred or unbelief? Will you forgive our nation and spare us the destruction You could easily and rightfully bestow upon us? Instead, will you treat us with mercy and grace like You did the remnant that You saved for Yourself out of the Israelites? God, You even promised to give them a new heart and mind that would seek after You and know You! Through the blood on the cross, can we boldly ask for these same blessings? Not that we deserve it, but that we have been honored with changing spots with Jesus…I ask for a new spirit and new mind – to KNOW You and to love You and Your Word. I ask these same things for my children and my neighbors and friends and country. For the sake of Your holy name, will You preserve Your people for Yourself? We humbly ask these things in the power of the name of Jesus. Forgive those who have made the headlines for sin – for we have ALL sinned and fallen short of your glory (Romans 3:23). Not one of us has the right to throw that first stone. So, we ask that You keep us from sinning through Your spirit inside of us. We are all a hot mess without You! Thank You for being a gracious and loving God, forgiving sin and providing a way back to You. Thank You for not giving up on us even when we have done wrong. Help us love others the way You have loved us. We are grateful for all You do and who You are! AMEN!