7.13 Ezekiel -- Knowing the Lord
One of the main themes of Ezekiel's prophecies is knowing the Lord.
"Once Ezekiel had experienced his vision of the merkabah, the chariot-throne of Yahweh, confirming to him that the God of Jerusalem was alive and triumphant even in this heathen, polytheistic land of Babylon, it is not surprising to find that his recurring theme is the majesty of the Lord and his reiterated message is that the house of Israel, the exiles, the nations of the world, even the forces of darkness, should all 'know that I am the Lord.' To judge from the frequency of its use (over fifty times in all), this aim was Ezekiel’s consuming passion” (Taylor, John B. Ezekiel: An Introduction and Commentary, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Downers Grove: IL: Inter-Varsity, 1969
, p. 23).
Actually, "knowing the Lord" is used 65 times (NIV, 1228). Sometimes, in a rather puzzling way, Ezekiel seemed to be saying, "You will know that I am the Lord when I have judged you and you are dead." Examples:
"Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the Lord" (Eze 6:7).
"I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord" (Eze 25:7).
Most of the uses of "know the Lord" are in a negative context -- following an act of God's judgment. This is not a redemptive knowledge of God -- rather, it is too late for men to repent, they are left only with remorse and shame. Only in a few places, towards the end of the book, is the knowledge of God coupled with a blessing, and then it is because God Himself initiates the work of redemption:
"When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. ...they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God (Eze 28:25-26).
"They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.... They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people," declares the Sovereign Lord. "You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God," declares the Sovereign Lord" (Eze 34:27-31).
Yet this wonderful endtime vision is the exception, in a book filled with blood and thunder, and the tramping feet of God's avenging armies.