Ezekiel 20-21: Then You Will Know That God Is the LORD
November 7, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Irony of ironies, the elders of Israel, or at least a portion of them, come to Ezekiel to “inquire of the LORD” (20:1). This is some kind of formal desire to hear from God through God’s prophet. But, the word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel, “Is it to inquire of me that you come?” (20:3).
It is one thing to say that you are going to hear God’s word; it is another to turn up physically to hear from God’s word; it is another thing to actually be prepared to hear what God has to say, come what may. They say they are there to inquire from the LORD, but the facts prove otherwise.
God then through Ezekiel recounts to the elders of Israel the long history of Israel’s relationship to God—how he has rescued them time and time again, how they have proved themselves rebellious time and time again. This is going on to that very day. And so, God concludes, “And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you” (20:31).
Instead, however, God himself will rescue them, but by means of his wrath and discipline. “Surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you” (20:33). “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (20:37). Over and over again the point of this is to cure them of their idolatry so that “Then you will know that I am the LORD” (20:38, 42, 44).
After this powerful sermon—a history with a lesson, a story with a meaning, a challenge, a rebuke, and a hope held out to God’s people—the elders listening can make no sense of it. Ezekiel complains bitterly: “Ah, Lord GOD! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not a maker of parables?’” (20:49). Their hardness of heart, their blindness, is shown by how they dismiss the prophet: his words make no sense to them; therefore, he must be speaking nonsense, or at least speaking in mere “parables,” probably a dismissive way of saying that he is being non-straightforward or confusing. Then you will know that God is the LORD. God’s purpose in the gospel is to glorify himself through rescuing us. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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