Eighty one times in the book of Ezekiel alone God says some version of, THEN ______________________will know that I am the Lord
5:13-15 “Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am the LORD – that I have spoken in my jealousy— when I spend my fury upon them. 14 Moreover, I will make you a desolation and an object of reproach among the nations all around you and in the sight of all who pass by. 15 You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken
7:4 “And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”
13:14 And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
21:1 -5 The word of the LORD came to me:
“Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. And all flesh shall know that I am the LORD. I have drawn my sword from its sheath; it shall not be sheathed again.
22:22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”
There are seventy-six more where it is promised that somebody is going to know that God is the LORD. Those above and a bunch more are proclaimed against His covenant people Israel where He promises to stomp their brains out from Dan to Beersheba for their idolatry. Why? Is it because their sin is bad for THEM? Like a hot stove? And the LORD doesn’t want them to get burned? It’s not that that is untrue, but it is a woefully self-centered and incomplete view of the truth.
Consider the following, please.
In chapter 20, God recounts Israel’s idolatry in Egypt (v8) and in the wilderness after the exodus, (vv13 and 21). Through His prophet, He tells How furious He was with them and how He was going to pour His wrath out on them then. In verses 9 and 14 we see why He didn’t.
Ezek 20:9 …But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.”
20:14 “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.”
God had been in covenant with the nation of Israel since Abraham. (Genesis 12, 15 and 17) After 400 years of captivity in pagan Egypt, God sends Moses to now lead them out IN HIS NAME. Which name Moses specifically asked Him for. (more on that in a minute) How would it look if the LORD were to exterminate the people He was covenanted with to give the land flowing with milk and honey? Both the Egyptians and the nations round about would say that THE LORD is unable to keep His people and to keep His promises. There was a real military element at play here too.
“Did the LORD, the god of the Hebrews destroy his own sissified army so they wouldn’t face defeat at our mighty hands?”
This is what the nations would say if the conquest of the fertile crescent by THE LORDS people were to fail without even a fight.
He showed them long-suffering faithfulness for the sake of His name.
God is reminding them of the history of their rebellion and His great patience in even allowing them to continue to exist. Why was He faithful to them? “FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE”Here we are 8 or 900 (or so) years later and their unfaithfulness and idolatry are worse than ever. The Babylonians are coming to execute the LORD’S purifying judgment on His own people, who albeit with a few periods of doing what was right in His eyes, just will not stay away from those irresistible false heathen gods.
The LORD, through Ezekiel also comes ferociously against the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. Why again? So that “THEY will know that I am the LORD.”
It’s important to note here as referenced above that where we see the word “LORD” in the Old Testament in all caps, that the NASB translation committee is rendering the Tetragrammaton from the Hebrew. That is, the four consonant proper name, that God gave for Himself to Moses at Sinai in Exodus 3:14. Nobody knows for sure how it was pronounced, but it means the I AM. The self-existent one. God is avenging the profaning of His name, which represents His character and person. He WILL see to it that HIS NAME is properly exalted and esteemed. Especially by and among His own covenant people.
Eighty-one times. “Why am I doing and saying these things,” says God? So that everybody will know that I AM THE LORD. The only true and living self-existing God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The ancient of days. The LORD God who took my people Israel by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.
Then, as is always the case when the LORD pronounces stern discipline on His covenant people for their unfaithfulness, He promises glorious restoration and peace as the result. Guess why?
Ezek 39:7 “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
Someone is sure to say:
“Yeah, well that’s the old testament and earthly theocratic Israel. God’s not like that anymore.”
The God of the bible never changes (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17) The wrath and fury of the thrice holy offended God as displayed against a harlot Israel throughout, especially the books of the prophets, is exactly what Jesus Christ came to save us from. All of it was satisfied upon God’s crucified spotless Lamb. Never ever to be held to the account of His people again.
The entire bloody burdensome, laborious Levitical machine, slaughtering animals and consuming goods, day and night, unable to keep up with the incessant lawbreaking of even those who truly wanted to please the LORD their God.
ALL OF IT, summed up and fulfilled in the once for all perfect sacrifice of the man born God, Jesus of Nazareth. Having no sin of His own, death could not hold Him and He stepped forth from that tomb alive on the third day, bringing with Him all of those given Him by the Father from eternity. His life FOR theirs, and now His life IS theirs.
Speaking of this Jesus, the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us in the 12th chapter: (caps indicate OT citations as per the NASB translators)
3-For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4-You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
5-and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; (Job 5:17, Proverbs 3:11)
6-FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 3:12)
7-It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8-But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9-Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10-For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11-All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
This passage is for the encouragement of Christians who were coming under severe persecution from unbelievers. Much like with Israel under Babylon in Ezekiel’s prophecies, and also like then, the LORD had a holy reason for this.
Once “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,…,(Ephesians 1:13) sin can never again imperil our eternal soul. It can however still displease our Father God, hinder our ability to serve Him as we ought and hence move Him to loving reproof, discipline, and scourging. Yes, SCOURGING. Same word as when Jesus was scourged. Is this figurative or literal? It can be and has been either and both. (another topic. See 2ND COR. 11:16-28 )
The point is that God uses pain and pressure as an instrument of productive discipline and the writer here even tells us that if we are without this discipline, we have reason to doubt whether we are His. (Verse 8)
Here is the governing principle of all of this for New Covenant believers. In verse 9 we read that God does indeed discipline us for our good. He does this so that we may “…share in His holiness.” His primary concern is not that sin will make us broken and miserable (which it will). His primary concern is about holiness. Holy, is what He is and what we and Adam’s world are not.
He wants us to be like Him. Those who are truly His will want that too. Of course, the pursuit referenced just below will not end until death or until the LORD Himself descends from heaven with a shout. With the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
If we skip down to verse 14 of Hebrews 12, I’ll give a nod to the NIV here as it actually gets this verse very right. (not my favorite transla-phrase)
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
We know he can’t be talking about justifying holiness, that is, a holiness that makes us right with the LORD because we see even from this very book that Christ alone is that right standing holiness before God. He’s saying by implication that the pursuit of holiness is what justified people do.
To sum up. Does the LORD care about the deleterious effects of sin upon His people? Of course, He does, but nothing has ever been, nor will anything ever be of greater priority and concern to Him than HIS GREAT AND HOLY NAME. Today’s self-obsessed, man-centered church really needs to learn this.
11-And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12-His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13-He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
14-And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15-From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16-And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
(caps is a quote from Deuteronomy 10:17 referring to the LORD)
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Latest posts by Greg Smith (see all)
- “Then You Will Know That I am the Lord.” (Lessons From Ezekiel) - April 27, 2018
- The Problem With “The Problem of Evil” - April 26, 2018