Ezekiel: Exploring His Emphasis for Today
Many things in Ezekiel are hard to understand. But one point is loud and clear: God wants us to know that He is the LORD. It’s a message for today.
Ezekiel was a captive of the Babylonians when God called him to be a prophet. God started by showing him an incredible vision of God’s traveling throne, with angels with four faces and four wings, and wheels within wheels full of eyes!
These awesome descriptions probably convince many readers that Ezekiel is a book we can’t really understand.
But there are some very clear and relevant messages in the book of Ezekiel—messages directed at us today!
One clear message that comes through time and time again is this: After all the punishments and after God’s interventions, God says people will “know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 6:7). Henry Halley lists 61 more times that this phrase occurs in 27 of the 48 chapters of the book (Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, p. 324).
After 60 times, you might think God is serious about this.
Ignoring the warnings
Many of the warnings in the book of Ezekiel were for Ezekiel’s day, foretelling the continuing conquests of King Nebuchadnezzar and the destruction of Jerusalem. As Ezekiel proclaimed, many people of his day ignored the warnings and preferred to believe that peace would come and that God would bless them—even though their religion was superficial and hypocritical (Ezekiel 13:10-16; 33:30-33).
But many of the other warnings of the book refer to the end times and the Day of the Lord just before Jesus Christ’s return. Ezekiel recorded many warnings for the northern kingdom of Israel that had gone into captivity more than 100 years before—and had never returned. They are sometimes called the lost tribes of Israel today.
Ezekiel was a captive himself—he could not take the message to them then. But God recorded it to be an end-time warning to the nations descended from those lost tribes today.
Ezekiel’s message—and his emphasis that “then you shall know that I am the LORD”—applies more today than ever.
Why does God want us to know He is the LORD?
Modern attitudes have only accentuated the trend away from God. Now more than ever our world does not know that God is the LORD.
- Many people today don’t believe in God at all. Acceptance of Darwinian evolution provided an intellectual framework for dramatic increases in atheism and agnosticism in Western nations.
- Many others believe that there is or could be a God, but don’t accept the God of the Bible.
- Others may give lip service to the Bible but don’t really know the covenant God—don’t really accept and live by His laws.
You want proof?
Some estimates suggest that about 1 of every 6 people in the world is nonreligious, with those professing atheism making up a small subgroup of these. However, the statistics are much higher in Europe and other Western nations.
Those who believe that there is no God may believe that evolution explains the origin of all life and that natural, materialistic processes explain everything that occurs. Some might ask, If there is a God, why doesn’t He show Himself and make it absolutely clear that He exists?
God’s answer? He will. After all the terrible destruction prophesied in Ezekiel, God tells us that then “you shall know that I am the LORD.”
How many really believe in the God of the Bible?
Few Americans publicly claim to be atheists. It is still the social norm for Americans to claim to be Christians. But how many Christians really believe in the God described in the Bible?
A 2011 Gallup poll reported:
- “Three in 10 Americans interpret the Bible literally, saying it is the actual word of God. …
- “A 49% plurality of Americans say the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it should not be taken literally. …
- “Another 17% consider the Bible an ancient book of stories recorded by man.”
The human tendency is to make God in our own image; to imagine Him as a comforting grandfather figure who is always loving and giving and never angry or demanding.
But the God revealed in Ezekiel, while loving, has high expectations. He expects humans to live up to His laws. And He is definitely angry.
What God wants
What does God want? He doesn’t want to punish. He doesn’t want people to die (Ezekiel 18:32). Instead He wants:
- Repentance—turning from breaking His laws and seeking to obey and please Him (verse 30).
- New hearts—He wants to give His Holy Spirit so we can have His laws in our hearts and minds and have the power to overcome sin and obey Him (verse 31).
- Sighing and crying—He wants us to feel as He feels about the terrible things being done in our world today and to pray fervently for the Kingdom of God to come to end this evil world and bring peace and righteousness (Ezekiel 9:4).
- Watchmen—God wants people to stand in the gap and support the work of preaching both the warning and the good news of the Bible (Ezekiel 22:30; 33:1-20).
Ezekiel was told he was to be a watchman—a lookout—and that if he didn’t deliver the warning, the blood of others would be on his hands. That is a heavy responsibility, but a true labor of love for those who, like God, want to see everyone repent and find the real, lasting solution to this world’s troubles.
God is the solution! Jesus Christ will rescue this world from self-destruction (Matthew 24:21-22). And then “you shall know that I am the LORD.”