Lesson 123—July 24, 2016
Ezekiel—“Then you shall know that I am the Lord”—by Associate Pastor Robin Kidd
Lesson Goal: To understand that God’s name will be made known regardless of how it is treated.
Background: The book of Ezekiel chronicles the prophecies of Ezekiel to the nation of Israel during a time of great turmoil. During the years 639-609 B.C., Israel had experienced a great social and spiritual reformation under the leadership of King Josiah. However, in 609 B.C. King Josiah was killed in battle and Israel quickly regressed back to its pagan ways bringing on the judgment of God. Ezekiel spends a great deal of time warning them about the coming judgment. Below is a chronological timeline of important dates that took place during Ezekiel’s lifetime (The King James Study Bible).
605 B.C. – Daniel taken captive to Babylon during the reign of King Jehoiakim (Israel) who still presided in Jerusalem but paid allegiance to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
601 B.C. – King Jehoiakim (Israel) switched allegiance from King Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon) to Egypt.
597 B.C. – King Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon) attacked and captured Jerusalem, killing King Jehoiakim (Israel). Ezekiel along with 10,000 leaders and skilled craftsmen were taken captive to Babylon.
586 B.C. – King Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon) returned to Jerusalem and this time destroyed it.
Ezekiel’s prophecies, recorded in this book, took place between 593 B.C. and 571 B.C., a span of 22 years. His entire ministry, except for visions of life in Jerusalem, took place while in captivity in Babylon. Since Jerusalem was destroyed during this time (586 B.C.), most of Ezekiel’s early prophecies emphasize the impending disaster, while his later prophecies stress Israel’s future restoration.
One of the great themes of Ezekiel is that all would know the ultimate power and authority of God. Over 75 times throughout the book God expresses that His purpose in the action He is taking is “for My name’s sake” or that “you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Have you ever strayed from God so far that He had to remind you that He is still the Lord?
God’s Name will be known! In the book of Ezekiel, God used judgment many times so that the people would know that He is still the Lord. But God also worked in positive ways throughout the book to make His name known as well. God can work in similar ways in all of our lives.
“Then you shall know that I am the Lord”
♦ In Judgment of Disobedience – Ezekiel 7:1-4
Israel had gone their own way and God would no longer allow them to ignore Him.
Does God still punish sin today, or is this just an Old Testament attribute of God? See Hebrews 13:8.
Do you see any similarities between our nation today and the nation of Israel of Ezekiel’s time? Have we ignored God?
Will God continue to be ignored without making Himself known?
What does the Bible mean when it talks about having a “fear of God”? Do people today, including Christians, believe God will actually take action when He is disobeyed and ignored?
I believe one of the best ways to understand what it means to have a fear of God is to look at the relationship many of us had as children with our earthly fathers. As a young child, I certainly had a real fear of my dad. The last thing I ever wanted to hear my mom say was: “I’m going to get your father.” I knew bad consequences were coming for what I had done. But as I grew older and understood that my dad only wanted what was best for me, I obeyed him more and more, because I loved him and wanted to please him, rather than because I was scared of him. BUT, I always knew that if I ever strayed, he would quickly remind me that he was still my father.
God loves us and only wants what is best. At the same time, we must remember that He is our Father and disobedience to Him will never go unnoticed. “The fear of God is a profound respect for His holiness, which includes a fear of the consequences of disobeying Him. It shouldn’t scare us out of our wits; it should scare us into them” (John Stott).
“Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
♦ In Restoration – Ezekiel 36:9-11
There was a time, after judgment had taken place, when Ezekiel’s prophecies for Israel turned from that of judgment to that of hope.
(v9a) “For indeed I am for you.”
What was God’s ultimate goal in bringing judgment on Israel? See Ezekiel 33:11.
God loved Israel too much to let them stay where they were. As His followers, He loves us too much to let us stay where we are when we stray from Him.
Do you remember a time when you loved your kids too much to allow them to continue down the road they were on? Did you enjoy having to do that?
No one enjoys discipline. But because of love, it sometimes has to happen. God doesn’t enjoy administering punishment. In these verses, He assures His people that He is for them. Isn’t it awesome to know that God is for you?
(v11b) “I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
If God’s judgment is great, how much greater is His blessings when someone turns to Him? When this happens, I believe God is so overjoyed that He wants to pour out His blessings in abundance. The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is a perfect picture of the celebration God has when one comes home. He wants to bless and work in a person’s life so much that those around that person can only say, “Look what the Lord has done.”
Can anyone give testimony of the fact that when you turned to God He blessed and made such a difference in your life that the only thing those around you could say was, “Look what the Lord has done”?
God will make His name known, either through judgment or, Hallelujah, through restoration!
“Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
♦ In His Future Kingdom – Ezekiel 40-48
The last chapters of the book of Ezekiel (chapters 40-48) are prophecies given by God to Israel that are yet, even to this day, to be fulfilled. Most scholars believe that the descriptions of a new temple and new city given in these chapters refer to the dwelling place of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:5-9) during the coming Millennial Period (1000 year reign of Christ on earth which will take place immediately following the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation).
It is certainly true that while we are living in this church age some will acknowledge Jesus as Lord but many, many will not. But there will come a day when ALL will know that He is Lord!
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:
“As I live,” says the Lord, “Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:10-11).
How does it help you live today knowing that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord?
God, through Ezekiel, wanted the people to know that they had a sure hope. Whether in the form of judgment or restoration, or in the future kingdom that is to come, God’s name will be known!
Have you acknowledged Jesus as Lord? Is He truly the Lord of your life?
Lesson 123—July 24, 2016