Ezekiel 39:28 (KJB), “Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them anymore there.”
All through the book of Ezekiel God uses this phrase, “Then they will know that I am God.” Some may have a few words added like “The Lord God” or “Sovereign Lord” but they all say the same thing I started counting in the seventh chapter and gave up. Over and over again God uses these words as He is explaining to Ezekiel what He is doing, what Ezekiel needs to do, and what the prophet needs to tell the people. All of this takes place during the exile to Babylon.
I have often pondered the events that took place in Jerusalem all those years ago. At first glance, it seemed that God was a tad cruel. After a few readings I began to understand a little better. After years of reading through the Bible, I began to side with God, feel deep sorrow in my heart for His spurned love and care. Eventually I understood as much as I am able, of why He allowed His chosen people to go as slaves into other countries.
Let’s take a look at Ezekiel 16:4-14 (NASB),
“As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord GOD.”
Who is He talking about? Unfaithful Jerusalem. His chosen people. Unwanted, cast out to die, picture a baby still with its umbilical cord attached thrashing, hungry and cold in its own blood, in the garbage dump. Unloved! Then along came the Creator of the Universe and chose them. While they were in that state …He loved them. He had compassion. He cleaned them up, dressed them, covered their shame, and decked them out in jewels. Till they were exceedingly beautiful! What a perfect picture of Perfect Love. It’s better than any fairytale and more romantic than any novel, so we expect a happy ending for Jerusalem, right? The “she loved Him for all of her days, thankful for all that He had done for her.” Let’s keep reading.
Ezekiel 16:15- 22(NASB), “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened,” declares the Lord GOD. Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. Besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood.”
What? No way. After all this great Lover did for her, she cheated on Him! Can you feel a little righteous anger rising up in you? Can you see things from the eyes of the one who was spurned, mocked, laughed at, and stolen from? Now before we get all self-righteous… He is also writing about me. You. His Church. The Bride of Christ. Weren’t we unwanted, unloved, cast out to die, hungry, and cold wallowing in our own blood, our own filth, in the refuse heap. Then along came the Lover of our souls. Yet, while we were in that condition He loved us. He had compassion. He saw something in us that no one else did. He cleaned us up, dressed us, covered our shame, decked us out in jewels. Till we were exceedingly beautiful.
Our own sin took us there, that awful place where the unwanted, used up, garbage goes. He took us out of the dump and placed us in a palace. He exchanged our ugly garments stained in dirt and blood and dressed us in robes of praise. He did that.
Jesus said that those who were forgiven much, loved much. Yet look at Israel. They turned their backs. How could they? They didn’t really know who their Lover was. When we know Him, really truly, know Him, we won’t leave. Never. We will be like Job and when those around us say, “curse God and die” we will reply, “I know that my redeemer lives, and even if He slays me, yet will I praise Him!” Job lived before grace, so did those adulteress Israelites, but even now under such glorious, scandalous grace, people still turn away from Him. If only they understood how much He loves them. If only they realized that no matter how “green” things look on the other side of the fence, it’s all lies, an illusion, its mirrors and parlor tricks by our enemy to lure us away. Or no matter how rough the path we are on looks, it’s His way. He planned it, He knows where it ends, and He walks with us.
Even after all of Israel’s sin. He saved a few faithful. His word did not return void. Some “knew that He was Lord” because of all they witnessed. Shouldn’t all of His goodness cause us to say, “I know that He is God, He truly is my Lord, the Lover of my soul?”
He will gather them back, if you stray, He will call for you, asking you to come back to Him.
But, the best plan would be to never leave, to remain faithful to your first love, to love Him all the days of your mortal life and for eternity beyond this one. To dedicate yourself to pleasing Him, to showing His love to others, to proving how much you love Him by word deed. It may be lawful for us to do anything under grace, but the question shouldn’t be “is it legal” but “does it please Him?” Don’t run away from the best thing that ever happened to you. Let yourself be “exceedingly beautiful” under His love. Show the world your beauty. It will glorify Him.
Then they will know… that He is Lord.