A look at Ezekiel.
It breaks my heart to see these people experience famine, war, and disease from the hands of God (and frankly, these kinds of stories would be what kind of made me afraid of God as a child), but look at the root of it: they're veering away from God and doing as he commanded we should not do. Skip back to Exodus 20 and check out the first two commandments God gave His people in Israel:
"You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods." (vv. 3-5a)Oooooops. That's awkward. For not just Israelites in the 1400s BC when the Ten Commandments were written but for Babylon, Jerusalem, Edom, Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, etc, etc. around 571 BC in Ezekiel's day... around 830 years later. Phew. (Don't we humans ever learn...?)
But over the past week and a half I have spent in Ezekiel, I have noticed a pattern: Ezekiel gets a message from God, and the message goes a little like this...
"Look at this nation: look at the evil they are doing as they turn their faces from Me and My decrees. I am about to overwhelm them with distress because I am angry with them. Then they will know that I am the LORD."That last part struck me.... "Then they will know that I am the LORD." That sounds like something someone would say if they had to prove their worth to someone. The Lord of Hosts has to show His power and who He truly is--more like remind his ignorant children whose minds are elsewhere--by sending calamity in their path. (I counted... the book of Ezekiel alone quotes "then they will know that I am the LORD" or some derivative of it 81 times in the New Living Translation.)
One of those showcases (and one of the most beautiful in my opinion) was one I read today at the start of Ezekiel 37 in the valley of dry bones. I challenge you to read this passage and think about some things. We already know God is ridiculously amazing beyond words that are comprehensible because of what He has done/is doing/will do, but hear me out.
- We know the story of Lazarus, right? Jesus brought his friend back from the dead by simply calling him out of his tomb after three days of being dead.
- BUT GOD declared to these bones to listen to the LORD as He says they will grow muscle, flesh, and skin and will be given the breath of LIFE. All of this to end with "then you will know that I am the LORD."
- THIS GOD you call King, Father, Shepherd, Counselor can bring life to dried up dead bones in a valley! Think of the greatness He can do through us in our lives! We serve an indescribable God who is capable of ALL things.
This passage reminded me of one of Lauren Daigle's songs "Come Alive (Dry Bones)" (I'm thinking she was inspired by this passage when writing the song, and if you're not familiar with it, listen to it right now), but it hit me while I was on a walk this evening that these lyrics make sense and pack a punch: "And by your spirit, breathe upon them. Show the world that You alone can save. You alone can save." The people Ezekiel was relaying God's messages to were a troubled people serving other gods, but it is God alone who can save us. All of the book of Ezekiel is reminding us that... eighty-one times reminding us.
Here's a question to ponder: Do we as twenty-first century Christians know that He is the LORD?