Thursday, August 9, 2012

"...know that I am the LORD"

And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land desolate and waste, in all their dwelling places, from the wilderness to Riblah. Then they will know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 6:14

The running theme of Ezekiel's prophecy is summed up in an often repeated phrase: "know that I am the LORD". This is said four times in chapter six alone (Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13, & 14). And the messages and metaphors of this chapter are a bitter pill to swallow.

God issues statements that confirm that idolatrous Israel will be judged. The dead bodies of idolaters will lie fallen, slain next to their destroyed false gods. God will utterly wipe out this penchant for idols. God takes credit for this judgment exclusively. God uses strong language to describe the unfaithfulness of His people, accusing them of having whoring hearts. He wants them to know the devastating destruction is a message. He brought the difficulties upon them because of their arrogant unfaithfulness to Him.

God takes responsibility for all the judgments that fall on the disobedient; warfare, famine, and disease. This is because He is furious in His wrath and is not holding back any of the curses of the covenant. Yet a small percentage will survive to be chastened in the captivity (Ezekiel 6:11-12). God is merciful even then.

If we only concentrate on the aftermath of judgment, the suffering and the unfathomable human misery, we will miss the entire picture. The purpose of judgment is to draw the people back to a true knowledge of God. After experiencing His discipline, they will know that He is Lord. And they will turn to Him and be saved. God is not just wildly and arbitrarily angry. He is always gracious and even brings judgment in a way that continues to show His desire to save.

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