dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


And They Shall Know

I finished the book of Ezekiel today. Reading through the book over the last few weeks impressed a couple of things on me. The first is that I should use a good commentary when next I read Ezekiel. As if the valley of dry bones, the 390 days that Ezekiel spent leaning on his side, the heavenly vision of chapter one, and the detailed descriptions of the new temple weren't reason enough, there are the judgments spoken against the nations and kings: Ammon, Edom, Moab, Egypt and the pharaoh, Tyre and the king of Tyre (to name a few).

The second thought that I am coming away with is a theme that I saw again and again throughout these prophecies. In Ezekiel 5 we read the judgment of Jerusalem's destruction. In verse 13, the Lord says, "And they shall know that I am the Lord. . . " Now, I did not specifically notice this when I read chapter five. Nor did I specifically notice that these words are repeated three more times in chapter six, in the judgment against idolatry. Again, and again, and again, the Lord speaks these words in the midst of judgment: "And you shall know that I am the Lord." Finally, I did begin to notice.

But it is not as though the Lord is saying, "You will know this at last, when it is too late." For fifty-eight verses of chapter sixteen, we read of the faithlessness of Israel. But in the final verses of the chapter, we read of the everlasting covenant of the Lord (v60). We read where He says that the people "shall know that I am the Lord" (v62). And we read the promise that the Lord Himself would atone for their sins (v63).

That is not all. If you remember one thing about the book of Ezekiel, it is probably of the valley of dry bones in chapter thirty-seven. But do you remember how that ends? "And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord" (v14, italics added). In the second half of the chapter, we see the same--and in even greater breadth, for the Lord's work in Israel was to be a testimony to the nations that the Lord is God. The chapter closes with verse twenty-eight: "Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore." So we see, even in a book full of prophecies of judgment, that the Lord brings glory to His name through redemption.

But what of the other nations, also given over to sin and utter lawlessness, yet not a part of God's chosen people? We read of judgment after judgment, but no restoration--at least, not for the nation. Nonetheless, the words "then you will know that the Lord is God" are spoken in some form at the ends of the prophecies against Ammon (25:7), Moab (25:11), Edom (25:14), Philistia (25:17), Sidon (28:22), Egypt (29:6, 30:25), and Mount Seir (35:4,12).* Especially interesting are the words spoken against Ammon and Egypt. Against Ammon (in 25:7) the Lord says, "I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the Lord." How can this be? If they were destroyed, who would be left to do any knowing? But consider that they were destroyed as a nation, and a remnant of the people remained, with the knowledge of Who is the Lord. See also, in the judgment against Egypt, how the Lord says that "all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord" (29:6).

He did not say that these people would come to repentance. But He did break their pride. He did promise that they would know that the Lord is God. As God pours out His righteous wrath on nations, it is His mercy to that nation's people to bring that judgment in this life, if it means opening their eyes to see that the Lord is God. The judgment that He brings is ultimately for the glory of His name--that is the purpose stated again and again. Yet we are shown mercy when He glorifies His name in this way, if He shows us our sinful state before Him, if He opens our eyes to see that the Lord is God.

We, as redeemed, personally know God's mercy in saving us from His holy wrath and judgment. This is the thought that I have been pondering: God is merciful to bring judgment in this life, when it means breaking hardened hearts and opening blind eyes to see that He is the Lord.

*(For reference, here is a quick list of thirty-eight appearances of the phrase "shall know that I am the Lord" appears times in Ezekiel; this phrase appears a total of fifty-one times in the whole Bible.)

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Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Wow...God never gets tired of telling his Love Story, does he? It's amazing that so many people see God as purely Law, passing judgment on everyone. In reality, we don't know him all that well (heh), because seeing us fail does not bring him glory, so he seeks to restore us and therefore bring us more glory.

After I'm done with Isaiah, I think I'll read Ezekiel. Thanks!

10/27/2007 6:06 PM

Anonymous J.D. said...

Jason, what a perspicacious devotional you have written. Great job! I always enjoy your concise writing style and heartfelt accuracy.
I heard a very interesting discussion on the city of Tyre earlier this summer from a gentleman who was giving a presentation on the reliability of the Bible's prophecy. I'll have to lend you the CD sometime.

What a way-cool reference link you made for the Scriptures you sighted on the ESV Bible website. I never knew such a thing existed for the ESV Bible. I will have to make use of that feature.

- J.D.

11/02/2007 8:31 PM

Blogger Jason said...

That CD sounds interesting. I've been wanting to learn more about OT prophecy.

The ESV website is a favorite of mine. It's a great tool for searches on phrases and such, especially whenever I can only a fragment of a verse and don't know the reference to look the rest up.

RE "perspicacious." Man, I have to admit that I had to look that one up! It sounded like a compliment but I wasn't sure exactly what you were saying. God is definitely the giver of perspicaciousness, and it's exciting when He does give it. So thanks for the comment, and keep building that vocabulary!

11/03/2007 12:32 PM

Anonymous stephen said...

I have just finished the book of Jeremiah and I saw similar insight to those that you saw in the book of Ezekiel, namely, God's mercy in humbling the proud. I think that God also makes it very clear in the book of Jeremiah that He alone is King of kings and Ruler of the nations; He can use one nation to bring His judgment on another (ie. Babylon destroying Israel)and then turn around and declare that that inflicter of wrath will also be judged.

I have started to read Jeremiah's second book, the book of Lamentations. I think it is divinely providential that God included both of these books in the Scriptures, for at times in the book of Jeremiah it can seem like Jeremiah was nothing but a heartless mouth-piece of a heavenly oracle. In the book of Lamentations, however, we can feel the heartbeat of this prophet and perhaps learn some lessons on prayer.

Now that I've left you a blog post, I'll sign off.

11/19/2007 11:10 PM


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