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.
And they/you shall know that I am the Lord – this is the first instance of this phrase in the book of Ezekiel, where I counted a total of 72 instances of variations of this phrase in this book, in largely similar contexts. While not exclusive to the book of Ezekiel, as this is a phrase that belongs not to the prophet or the author but uttered by the Lord himself, and perhaps more commonly remembered to be found in the book of Exodus, where the Lord frequently performed great feats so that the people will know that he is the Lord. Yet in the book of Ezekiel, a book that consists largely of prophecies than anything else, these are not uttered along with acts of miracles – but prophecies of great feats. In an era of destruction and demise, perhaps what people needed was to know that God is indeed, God. In a time of exile, perhaps the only thing that could encourage them would be the promise of God’s grandeur in its full display. In this study, we will take a closer look at this phrase of God and what it takes for us to accept the knowledge that God is indeed the Lord.
Have you ever wondered, what does it take, for you to be truly, fully convinced that God is indeed who he claims to be? Does it take the land to be made desolated and wasted [Eze 6:14]? Or do you need to be punished without pity [Eze 7:4]? Or perhaps you need to be paralyzed by terror through the judgement of God that is according to your way [Eze 7:27]? Looking through the rest of Ezekiel, here are some of the things that it may take to know who God is:
- Falling by the sword [Ezekiel 11:10]
- Dispersed among the nations and scattered among the countries [Eze 12:15]
- Perish in the midst of the broken walls and foundations [Eze 13:14]
- Veils be torn off [Eze 13:21]
- Be set against the face of God [Eze 14:8]
- The high tree brought low, the low tree made high, the green tree dried up, the dry tree flourish [Eze 17:24]
- Handed over as plunder to the nations, cut off from the peoples, perished out of nations [Eze 25:7]
Those above are generally the more severe and negative ones, but of course, there are many great, hopeful promises of rewards and blessings as well:
- the trees of the field shall yield fruit, the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land, delivered from the hands of those who enslaved them [Eze 34:27]
- multiply and be fruitful, with more good done to you than ever before [Eze 36:11]
- vindicate the holiness of his great name [Eze 36:23]
- rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate [Eze 36:36]
- lay sinews upon you, cause flesh to come upon you, cover you with skin, put breath in you, and you shall live [Eze 37:6]
- raise you from your graves [Eze 37:13]
- greatness and holiness of God shown and made known in the eyes of many nations [Eze 38:23]
It is quite a noticeable difference, as Ezekiel 1-24 contain largely prophecies that were made before the final collapse of Jerusalem, while the chapters thereafter contain prophecies made after the final collapse of Jerusalem, and the general perspective of letting God’s name be known is very obviously different. Which of these, be it great, good, miracle or great, bad, punishment is enough to let you know that God is indeed the almighty God?
I’m sure you have bumped into walls while trying to talk about the Gospel or talk about God to non-Christians. Sentiments like, ‘I will believe that God exists if I strike the lottery tomorrow’ – or ‘I will go to church if I my child gets healed from his disease’. These are common sentiments, and we tend to want to be proven that God exists via great acts that are impossible by Men. I’m sure you’ve also met many who reached that epiphany one day – hey, this god is actually real! In the days of the prophet Ezekiel, as the people were exiled and their city was facing destruction, and they indulged in the pagan practices of idolatry and other sins, God’s anger burnt, and the result of the satisfaction of his fury, the result of his jealousy and rage at the idolatry of the people, was the desolation of Jerusalem – prophesied again and again and again prior to the final collapse of Jerusalem.
Even if you are a Christian, are you truly convinced that the God we worship is the one and only God? Are there really no doubts in your heart? And if there are, what does it take, what will it take, for you to know that He is the Lord? Surely God will have mercy and, in our own ways, give us that affirmation that he is indeed, Lord, through little miracles, little blessings, little acts. Don’t wait till the fury and wrath and jealousy of the Lord is invoked before you open your eyes to the fact that he is Lord.