Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Get the Message

“I am the Lord.”

That’s Ezekiel summed up in four words.

God has a point he wishes to make, and we are wise to hear it in a day when most recognize no final authority beyond their own opinions, prejudices and desires.

The phrase “they will know” (or “you will know”) that “I am the Lord” occurs 72 times in Ezekiel. Only 11 of its first 39 chapters don’t have it. It’s the bottom line to every declaration God makes to his people through the prophet. It’s a message we need to internalize at the very core of our beings. Until that happens, we do not really understand our place in the universe.

Without it, our assessment of reality is warped and disproportionate. We think it’s all about us.

It’s a truth I learned in my early twenties after fighting against it long, hard and in every possible way. God gets the final word, not me: that’s just how it is. Love it or hate it, this is how the world works. And it’s a very good thing.

Everybody’s Going to Hear It

That God rules is a message that goes out loud and clear to the four corners of the earth, to everyone with ears and a few without.

The trees of the field will know. The nation of Ammon will know. Tyre will know, and Sidon too. Egypt will know, of course. Can’t leave them out. Mount Seir and Edom will know. Magog and the coastlands will know. The nations will know. All flesh will know, and of course, above all, and over and over again, the house of Israel will know.

He is the Lord. Period. Full stop.

Truly “their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world”. 

The Severity of God Says It

That he is Lord is made clear to us in so many ways. The venting of God’s fury on Jerusalem declares it. The falling of their slain proclaims it. The execution of judgments that precisely fit the crime spells it out clearly, in case there is any doubt. The dispersal of Israel among the nations is eloquent testimony to it. The few that escape are witnesses to it. Cities laid waste shout it out, and desolate lands are its evidence. The fate of the false prophets proves it. God’s sovereignty among the nations displays it.

The Goodness of God Confirms It

But these are just the judgments. There is far more to God than that. What about his goodness?

The sign of the Sabbath said it: God wanted his people to enter his rest. The deliverance of God’s people from lies and delusion confirms it. God wants his own to know truth. God’s covenant with an adulterous people and the atonement he provides testify to it. What we can’t do for ourselves, he will. The fact that God deals with Israel “for his name’s sake” and “not according to your corrupt ways” makes it incontrovertible, and reminds Christians that he is the same way in his dealings with us today.

A God Who Communicates

There’s more, much more.

It’s a long, long list, but the message is unmistakable. Whether we are talking about judgment or blessing; whether we look at Israel or the nations; whether it’s your life or mine, God wants to communicate. He doesn’t just judge sin for the sake of revenge or even for the sake of justice. Rather, in intervening in our lives he is making a point. He’s trying to get the attention of the world, and he’s been speaking for thousands of years.

God has spoken many times and in many ways. He spoke finally and completely in the person of his Son.

Are we listening?

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