Wednesday, September 5, 2012

God of wrath. God of restoration.

And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 20:44

These words are directed for the most part to a generation that will be born exiled from their homeland. In Ezekiel 20, God rehearse the entire history of Israel, from the Exodus to the Exile, and informs the elders of Israel that they are the generation that has enraged His wrath and will endure His judgment. They were no longer welcome to enquire of Him while their idolatry so filled their hearts. The entire history of the nation had been one in which the people were tempted to idolatry and had not wholeheartedly worshiped the Lord. They have never truly kept His laws nor have they obeyed His commandments.

The result was that God had only one answer to the inquiries of Ezekiel's generation: "You will know I am the Lord through My judgment". And the bulk of Ezekiel 20 repeats this in various ways. It culminates in verse 39, where God basically says, "Just go worship your idols and profane My name. I've had enough. You are going to be judged so you will know that My name is holy."

Yet then the chapter transitions to a message of hope and restoration. There would come a time when Israel would repent in the exile and seek the Lord without idolatry. And in that expression, God would begin to move them back to possess the Promised Land again. He would restore them and they would worship Him wholeheartedly as never before.

Just as in judgment they would know the sovereign work of God, so in restoration they would know the sovereign love of God when He dealt graciously with them again. God will be known both by His wrath against sin and His restoration in repentance. And in that hope, sinners find mercy and grace in God.

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