The Text – Ezekiel Chapters 4-7
The Theme – “God uses His people to announce His judgment”
Webster defines the word judgment as (1) a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion; (2) a formal decision given by a court; (3) a certificate evidencing such a decree; (4) a divine sentence or decision, and (5) the final judging of mankind by God. As believers in Jesus Christ we may think we can make the gospel sound less unpleasant if we only emphasize God’s love and soften His anger and judgment. Nonetheless, people must know that if they have wronged God eventually they will one day await His judgment. To speak of God’s judgment may sound old-fashioned, especially to people in today’s world. However, we are commanded in the scriptures to convey a complete story to a lost generation and not just part of it. If you have ever listened to Paul Harvey’s commentary over the radio, somewhere within the story he is telling you will certainly hear these words, “Now you know the rest of the story.”
Well, the unsaved of this world need to know the rest of the story, in that, one day our LORD will return to mete out His judgment upon this wicked world and those who have rejected His perfect sacrifice. As believers in Christ, we must not become frustrated with God when we seen in everyday the sinfulness of mankind. Our God isn’t ignoring the sin. Because He is long suffering and not wanting any to perish, He is allowing sinners the opportunity to repent and become a child of the King. It’s our responsibility as believers to continue sowing the seed of the Gospel and allowing God, in His time, to bring forth the increase. God waited patiently for the nation of Israel to repent of their sinfulness. The nation didn’t repent and God judged their sinfulness.
We know from the Scriptures that the kingdom was unified under the reign of David, and it had grown to greatness under his son Solomon. However, Solomon’s wives drew his heart into idolatry, which laid the foundation for all the idolatry that God would judge in the nation. Because of Solomon’s sin, God broke the United Kingdom in two pieces around 931 B.C. Ten tribes formed the Northern Kingdom. Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern Kingdom. The people who made up Judah of the Southern Kingdom were extremely rebellious. The prophet Jeremiah who ministered before Ezekiel had already proclaimed this truth. He had warned the Israelites that those who live wickedly and refuse to repent will one day experience God’s wrath. Even though it was now time for judgment, God still manifested His grace, and used Ezekiel to show the people exactly why they suffered as they did.
Many times God uses fear as a means of bringing people to salvation and the Bible tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Ecclesiastes 1:7). Within the realm of today’s society there seems to be two misconceptions, which has weakened, the moral influence of this fear? The first misconception is that Biblical standards for our conduct or behavior have no authority in today’s society. The majority of people believe that Biblical standards, that is, principles and values, are old-fashioned and as such are out-of-date and have no value whatsoever for today’s generation.
(1) This way of thinking was emphasized when a public school teacher expressed no shame for her bi-sexual behavior that the Bible calls immoral, and saw no need for repentance.
(2) The second misconception is if there is a God; He is so tolerant and/or lenient toward sin that He automatically forgives everyone. A woman expressed this view in her letter to the editor of a local newspaper when she wrote of the unrepentant teacher, “God has forgiven her, and so should we.”
Nonetheless, in sharp contrast to these misconceptions, is the truth that comes only from God’s Eternal Word. His standards are righteous, just and absolute. He will deal justly in the punishment for those individuals who do not repent for violating His commandments contained in the Scriptures. In these chapters of Ezekiel the nation of Israel and Judah are finding out this very truth in a very sobering and difficult way. God’s people were involved in immorality, unkindness, deceitfulness and Idolatry (not any different than today).
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God said the hearts of His people had become adulterous (Ezekiel 6:9) and hard as a rock (11:19). Ezekiel 2:3-5 puts it in these words, “… Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent (rude, disrespectful, ill-mannered, sassy and mouthy) and stubborn people. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, thus saith the Lord God. As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse – for they are a rebellious house – yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
Moses reminded the Israelites repeatedly that they were prone to forget God especially when times got better for them; however, he cautioned them that the luxury of prosperity could make it easy to forget how dependent they were on the Lord at all times. They needed to realize that without the strength God provided they couldn’t even raise their food to their mouths. Even Joshua told them to, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God” (Joshua 24:23). At Shechem, Joshua had gathered the people of Israel at this town so he could give them the challenge of their lives. Aware of their interest in the history of their forefathers, Joshua began with a dramatic recounting of things past. As Joshua talked, the people must have relived in their minds the exciting stories they had heard from their grandparents – the plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and all the battles with surrounding enemies.
But more humbling than all those instances of God’s intervention must have been the reminder that despite God’s goodness, the people were still worshipping the false gods of their forefathers. Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites was not about the past. It was about the future. He challenged them to worship only the one true God. Because “he is a jealous God”, the Lord will not tolerate the worship of any other. Today we must keep remembering what God has done for us, praising Him for what He has given us, and thanking Him for His forgiveness. But above all, the Lord Himself is worth remembering just for who He is. Both prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel pleaded with the Israelites, offering them God’s healing, but they refused to acknowledge God, so the Lord had no other choice but to bring upon them His righteous judgment.
A. THE REPRESENTATION OF A SIEGE (4:1-3)
“Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: (2) And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about. (3) Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 4:1-3)
Just as a child would build a castle at the beach, Ezekiel was ordered to use a sun-baked brick as the centerpiece to represent the siege of Jerusalem. As long as Jerusalem kept her integrity, God had written her upon the palms of his hands, and the names of the tribes were engraved in precious stones on the breast-plate of their high priest. However, now that the faithful city had become a harlot, a worthless brittle (tile or brick; a sun dried brick, were found in Babylon, covered with cuneiform inscriptions, often two feet long and one foot broad), is thought good enough to portray the city upon it.
Ezekiel was ordered to build little forts (rather “watch-tower) [Jeremiah 52:4] wherein the besiegers could watch the movements of the besieged), against this portraiture of the city, resembling the batteries and ramps that would bring the downfall of Jerusalem. Between the city that was besieged, and himself that was the besieger, he was to set up an iron pan, as an iron wall. This represented the inflexible resolution of both sides; the Chaldeans resolved, whatever it cost them, that they would make themselves master of the city and would never quit until they had conquered the city; on the other side, the Jews resolved never to surrender, but to hold out to the end.
“Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege” (Ezekiel 4:4-8).
After Ezekiel built the model he was ordered by the Lord to lie upon his side before it, symbolizing God’s involvement in the siege of Jerusalem. Ezekiel alternated the side on which he lay, first on his left side for 390 days, facing in the direction of the Northern Kingdom, each day representing one year of sin that God’s people (Israel) had committed, a period of time about the length of the divided kingdom. Then Ezekiel would lay on his right side for 40 days, facing in the direction of Southern Kingdom (Judah). This period may refer to the length of Manassah’s reign before he repented. He was unparalleled in his wickedness until God brought him up short. Ezekiel was ordered to prosecute the siege with vigor as stated in verse 7, “Thou shalt set thy face towards the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.” When God laid bands upon the prophet Ezekiel in verse 8, it was to show the people how they were bound with the cords of their own transgression, and therefore they were now bounded in the cords of affliction and suffering.
B. THE REPRESENTATION OF A FAMINE (4:9-17)
“Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of a hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the LORD said, even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.
Then said I, Ah Lord God! Behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth. Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment; That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity” (Ezekiel 4:9-17).
Ezekiel’s survival diet represented the way the people of Jerusalem would barely exist under the siege conditions. His meat (the edible part of something as distinguished from its covering (as a husk or shell), for the quality of it, was to be of the worst bread, made of but little wheat and barley, and the rest of beans, and lentils, and millet, such as we feed horses or fatted hogs with. You could render this that we shouldn’t be too fond of dainties and pleasant bread; because we know not what hard meat we may be tied to before we die. The meanest sort of food is better than we deserve, and therefore must not be despised nor wasted, nor must those that use it be looked upon with disdain, because we know not what may be our own lot. Thus, both grain and water would be scarce.
In verse 10, the prophet must eat but twenty shekels’ (about ten ounces) weight of bread a day; and he must drink but the sixth part of a hin (about eight ounces) of water. You could glean from this quantity that God’s servants must learn to endure hardness, and to deny themselves the use of lawful delights, when they may thereby serve the glory of God, evidence the sincerity of their faith, and express their sympathy with their brethren in affliction. In addition to this meager diet, God commanded him to bake his bread over a fire made unclean by burning human dung (verse 12), that must be dried, and serve for fuel to heat his oven with. Verse 13 implies that Israel’s peculiar distinction was to be abolished and that they were to be outwardly blended with the idolatrous heathen
The thought of this would almost turn one’s stomach; yet the coarse bread, thus baked, he must eat as barley-cakes, as freely as if it were the same bread he had been used to eating. Use of animal dung was common in cooking food, but use of human dung was prohibited. Ezekiel had been faithful to God. He had never eaten unclean food (refers to the requirements of the law that food is prepared in a way that God prescribed. [Deuteronomy 12:15-19; Leviticus 22:8]). Crying out to God, the prophet sought a more appropriate fuel he could use, and God graciously allowed him to use cow’s dung (verse 15). The exiles, though, would eat the unclean food of the nation to which they would be taken. A few, like Daniel, would choose to obey God no matter what their circumstances. Those who remained in Jerusalem should be brought to extreme misery for want of the necessary of food. All supplies being cut off by the besiegers, the city would soon find the want of the country, for the king himself is served of the field; and thus the staff of bread would be broken in Jerusalem.
God would not only take away from the bread its power to nourish, so that they should eat and not be satisfied, but would take away the bread itself, so that what little remained should be eaten by weight, so much a day, so much a head, that they might have an equal share and might make it last as long as possible. They would have to eat and drink with much care, to make it go as far as it will. It seems likely that Ezekiel would teach through his actions at set times of the day and through his return to a normal pattern of life for the remainder of the day. Evidently, people would visit Ezekiel to see his visionary enactment of current events. Ezekiel’s actions, without spoken word, taught much truth. His unwillingness to defile his food by baking it over human excrement honored God. As a prophet, he modeled God’s activity in His people’s lives.
C. THE REPRESENTATION OF JERUSALEM’S RUIN
“And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weight, and divide the hair. (2) Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. (3) Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. (4) Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 5:1)
In this chapter we have a further, and no less terrible denunciation of the judgments of God, which was coming with all speed and force upon the Jewish nation, which would utterly ruin it; for when God judges he will overcome. We have here the sign by which the utter destruction of Jerusalem is set forth; and here, as before, the prophet Ezekiel is himself the sign in a Shave (5:1-4).
Ezekiel must shave off the hair of his head and beard, which signified God’s utter rejecting and abandoning the people, as a useless and worthless generation. He shaved his head and beard, weighed the hair, and then divided it into three parts. This act, all the hair being shaven off was significant of severe and humiliating treatment. Especially in the case of a priest, for priests were forbidden “to make baldness on their head,” their hair being the token of sanctification When an Israelite priest shaved his head, he became defiled Leviticus 21:5, “They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh). Ezekiel’s humiliation symbolized the humiliation of the nation Israel. He must dispose of the hair so that it might all be destroyed or dispersed.
(1) One third part must be burnt in the midst of the city, denoting the multitudes that should perish by famine and pestilence, and perhaps many in the fire of the city, when the days of the siege were fulfilled;
(2) Another third part was to be cut in pieces with a knife, representing the many who, during the siege, were slain by the sword, and especially when the city was taken by storm, the Chaldeans being then most furious and the Jews most feeble; and
(3) Another third part was to be scattered in the wind, denoting the carrying away of some into the land of the conqueror and the flight of others into the neighboring countries for shelter; so that they were hurried, some one way and some another, like loose hairs in the wind. God also adds I will draw out a sword after them, so that wherever they go evil shall pursue them.
He must preserve a small quantity of the third part that were to be scattered in the wind, and bind them in his skirts, as one would bind that which he is very mindful and careful of. A few only of the last portion were to escape, symbolized by the hairs bound in Ezekiel’s skirts. Even of these some were to be thrown into the fiery ordeal again. The “skirts” being able to contain but few express that extreme limit to which God’s goodness can reach.
D. THE CAUSES FOR JUDGMENT (Ezekiel 5:5-6:14)
Judgment expresses God’s righteous anger against sin. Finally, God explains Ezekiel’s conduct. The watching Israelites must have wondered about the actions of the muted prophet! According to 5:5, God placed Jerusalem as the focal point of His program on earth and had greatly blessed that city. Because Judah ignored God’s Word and His grace, judgment was on its way. The judgment would be horrendous. The siege of the city would result in cannibalism (5:10), death by plague or sword (5:12), famine (5:12), loss of reputation (5:14, 15), and attacks by wild beasts (5:17). The pagan altars they had built would be destroyed along with those who worshiped at them. The land that God promised to Abraham would become desolate until the people repented. What occasioned for this great destruction is listed below?
(1) Rebellion (5:6, 7)
The degree of the rebellion is amazing. The people had actually and willfully exceeded their pagan neighbors in sinfulness. Though they possessed God’s Word, they ignored it. By their actions, they opposed the truth. This indictment on Israel is echoed in Romans 2 and 3. The Israelites knew God’s will as revealed in the Scripture. Yet, “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (Romans 2:23). The pagans blasphemed God because God’s people denied the truth.
Ezekiel 5:8, “Therefore thus saith; the Lord God; behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. (9) And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like because of all thine abominations”.
(2) Idolatry (5:8, 9)
The first of the Ten Commandments proclaims the need to worship God alone. The Israelites had first “demoted God” by making Him only one of many deities. Then they had turned their backs on Him and worshiped false gods. God detests idols. Though idols may represent demons (1 Corinthians 8:1-7), they are nothing themselves. God considers idols abominable because they move the worshiper’s focus from God. Idolatry is an attempt to shape God in one’s own image. It reduces the God of the universe to a size that is manageable by humans. God will take this work of punishing Jerusalem into his own hands; and who knows the power of his anger and what a fearful thing it is to fall into his hands.
Observe what a strong emphasis is laid upon it in verse 8: I, even I, am against thee. I will execute judgments in thee (v. 10), in the midst of thee (v. 8), not only in the suburbs, but in the heart of the city, not only in the borders, but in the bowels of the country. These punishments to the nation shall be public and open. Again in verse 8, I will execute these judgments in the sight of the nations. The judgments themselves shall be so remarkable that all the nations far and near shall take notice of them; they shall be all the talk of that part of the world, and the more for the conspicuousness of the place and people on which they are inflicted.
IDOLS IN THE HEART
Ezekiel 14:3 tell us, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts”, and 1 John 5:21 puts it this way, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”. When we hear the word idol, we think of a statue of a person or animal that is the focus of worship. For example, we think of the golden calf the Israelites made soon after they left Egypt found in (Exodus 32:1-6). We know that God despises such images, yet is it possible that we worship idols without knowing it? To drive home an important point please consider the following missionary story.
When my husband and I first went out as missionaries, I recall being concerned about the growth of materialism in our society. It never crossed my mind that I myself could be materialistic. After all, hadn’t we gone overseas with almost nothing? We were having to live in a shabbily furnished and rundown apartment? I thought materialism couldn’t touch us. Nonetheless, feelings of discontent gradually began to take root in my heart. Before long I was craving hungrily after nice things and secretly feeling resentful over not having them. Then one day God’s spirit opened my eyes with a disturbing insight: Materialism isn’t necessarily having things; it can also be craving them. There I stood – guilty of materialism! God had exposed my discontentment for what it was, an idol in my heart! That day as I repented of this subtle sin, God recaptured my heart as His rightful throne. Needless to say, a deep contentment followed, based not on things but on Him. In Ezekiel’s day, God dealt thoroughly with this kind of secret idolatry. His throne on earth has always been in the hearts of His people. Thus, if anything other than God becomes our primary focus in life, it is an idol. In Colossians 3:5, Paul identified covetousness as a type of idolatry. He exhorted us to say no to these grasping ways that are part of our old self, and to say yes to our new self, created to live like Christ (v. 10). What’s the focus in your life? The answer may surprise you!
(3) Defilement (5:11)
According to 5:11, the Israelites had moved their idolatry into the sanctuary of the Lord. The worship of idols offended God greatly. However, this went a step further, combining the worship of the one true God with the worship of false gods in the house of God. God demands that His people worship Him alone. What happened to the great city of Ephesus? Often mentioned in the New Testament, it was one of the cultural and commercial centers of its day. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, its broad avenues, its gymnasiums, its baths, its huge amphitheater, and especially its magnificent Temple of Diana. What happened to bring about its gradual decline until its harbor was no longer crowed with ships and the city was no longer a flourishing metropolis?
Was it smitten by plagues, destroyed by enemies, or demolished by earthquakes? No, silt was the reason for its downfall, silent and non-violent silt. Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of the sea traders. I submit to you that over a period of time similar things have crept into the church. Compromising on this doctrine and not speaking out on sin and repentance. These practices may seem harmless, but they will gradually accumulate, and we find ourselves far from God and not worshipping Him the way we should. Life will become a spiritual ruin. In the book of Hebrews we are warned of the danger of “the deceitfulness of sin”. James said that the attractive pleasures of sin are really a mask covering death. God forbid that we let the silt of sin accumulate in our lives.
Thus far, I have discussed the areas of rebellion, idolatry and defilement, which brought about Israel’s great destruction. The last area of discussion is that of:
(4) Adultery with the world (Ezekiel 6:8-10)
In words that echo later in James 4:4, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Ezekiel points to the root of their problem: spiritual adultery. The nation had broken her relationship with God for the supposed pleasure of a relationship with the world. Judah, Ezekiel asserted, had a whorish heart. 1 John 2:15 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” – What is the “world” that John warned us about. Some have identified it as a list of questionable activities that religious people ought to shun. But it’s not as easy as that. John wasn’t talking about mere outward behavior; he was referring to our deepest motives.
In the Bible, the “world” is a system controlled by Satan, who operates through cultures that have little regard for God. Born again believers in Jesus Christ must live in their culture, but they dare not take their lead from it. You may make your living today in the world of business or go to school in the world of education, or enjoy entertainment in the world of music or media. But the world-system in which we live is enemy territory. It’s not neutral. Worldliness is anything that makes sin look attractive and righteousness look silly. We are worldly whenever we live and love and choose on the same basis as people who don’t love God. A believer striving for power in a church or exploding at his wife at home can be as worldly as a person guzzling drinks at a bar. Two questions reveal the motives of our hearts:
(1) Are we living with a deep love for the Father?
(2) Are we eager wherever we go in the world to carry out His will?
(3) He wants us to be in the world, but not to be of it.
“And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.” (Ezekiel 6:9). The heart, as used in this Scripture, refers to the mind and the reasoning process associated with it. It’s the seat of logical thinking. By deliberate choice, the Israelites had turned their hearts from God to another. Only after judgment, when the passion of their adultery was cooled by the judgment of God, would they see the truth. When they saw the truth, they saw themselves from God’s perspective.
E. THE RESULTS OF JUDGMENT (Ezekiel 7:1-27)
(1) There Would be Destruction. Ezekiel sketched the situation in a few words. The people had sown their wild oats, and there would be no crop failure. The judgment is as terrifying as it is complete, in that:
(a) The people will be taken away (7:11) – “Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs; neither shall there be wailing for them”;
(b) The economy will be ruined (7:12-14) – “The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life”;
(c) The society will be broken (7:15, 16) – “The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him”;
(d) The city will be plundered and the property will be taken (7:21, 22) – “But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity”
(2) Knowledge of God. God’s wrath is purposeful. When Israel chose not to respond to His Word or to His prophets, the Lord sent His wrath to allow her to know Him. Certainly, it is much wiser to come to know God by responding to His Word. Seven times the prophet Ezekiel spoke of God’s desire that His people would know Him are found in the following verses:
(a) “And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD”- (Ezekiel 6:7)
(b) “And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them” – (Ezekiel 6:10)
(c) “They shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savor to all their idols” – (Ezekiel 6:13)
(d) “So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD” – (Ezekiel 6:14)
(e) “And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD” – (Ezekiel 7:4)
(f) “And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth” – (Ezekiel 7:9); and,
(g) “The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD” – (Ezekiel 7:27)
The word used for “know” goes beyond a mere knowledge of the facts of God. It refers to a knowledge gained by personal experience. The warning is dire, though. If people don’t desire to know God as their Savior, they will certainly come to know Him as their Judge. Israel should have been aware of this. The book of Exodus reveals that as God taught the Israelites in Egypt about Himself, He also taught the Egyptians (Exodus 6:7; 7:5, 17; 8:10, 22; 9:14, 29; 10:2; 11:7). Egypt learned the cost of their rebellion. The Egyptians came to know Him by experience, though they did not submit to His love. Now Israel was in a situation similar to Egypt.
Psalm 119:68 tell us, “You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes”; Jeremiah 9:24, “Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD”. It’s one thing to know about God, but it’s quite another to know Him personally. Let’s see how this distinction applies when considering some of God’s attributes. The thought that God is present everywhere is staggering. But to be aware of His presence in times of need brings comfort and hope. The thought that God knows everything is mind-boggling. But to have the confidence that no detail of our lives escapes His attention is to enjoy a peace that endures through every trial.
The thought that the Lord is all-powerful should make us marvel at His greatness. But to have Him actually work in, through, and for us should encourage each of us to relax in His mighty arms. The thought that God never changes is a reassuring truth. But to commit ourselves to the care of this never-changing One is to know the stability of His faithfulness. The thought that God is love is wonderful to contemplate. But to know Him as a loving Redeemer through personal faith in His Son, Jesus Christ brings the joy of sins forgiven. If we are to grow spiritually, we must learn more about Him. We must hunger for a greater knowledge of God and a deeper understanding of what He wants from us.
The Psalmist attitude throughout Psalm 119, the author makes statements like these: “I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments”; “Teach me Your statues”; Give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments”. To know God better, we need a “teach me” attitude. We’re going to spend eternity worshipping Him. Shouldn’t we learn all we can about Him now?
The apostle Paul understood the value of knowing God. It became the passion of his life. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:8-10).
This is what God wanted from His chosen people, and He wants the same thing from you and from me today, however, Israel’s heart, like ours, sometimes is set upon worldly treasures instead of the Word of God. May we use this portion of Scripture and apply it to our own hearts and minds, so that we don’t fall into the deceptive traps Satan has set for us. The Lord desires the world to learn of Him, and we are the letters He sends, so that the world can know Him through us. Thus, my brethren, as His ambassadors, may we be obedient and faithful in our walk and service to our Lord in proclaiming His precious Word, to a rebellious people and a lost and unrepentant world.
To escape God’s wrath we need to embrace God’s Love.