So That You Will Know
I've been reading Ezekiel lately — well, for about 3 months now. It's not an easy book — all those weird visions in the first few chapters and the boring (sorry, God) temple dimensions at the end. I'm very happy to say I finished it yesterday. On to Daniel. . .now that will really be fun!
But that's not the only reason Ezekiel is hard reading — it's a harsh book, filled with judgment and displays of God's wrath. His judgment began with His chosen people, Israel. And well it should, nothing breaks His heart more than the turning away of His children. God confronted Israel with their sin and idolatry. Because of their rebellion, Jerusalem would be destroyed and Israel would be taken into exile. How can there be any whispers of God's love and mercy amongst those pages?
Amazingly, promises of God's grace are woven through these chapters. One spoke to me above all: Ezekiel 11:16. "Although I sent them away. . .scattered them. . . yet I have been a sanctuary for them. . ." His love and watch-care covered them, even in exile.
Do you feel like you've been sent into exile? Do you feel abandoned by God? Hold on to this promise. Perhaps you are experiencing the discipline of God . He is your sanctuary and your protector, no matter how far you stray. He never leaves you, even in times of discipline. You are never out of His sight.
The Lord disciplines those He loves. . . Hebrews 12:6
That doesn't make me feel any better, does it you? What's His purpose when He disciplines us? For His enjoyment? To say "I told you so!" ? Ezekiel give us glimpse into God's heart.
Over and over in these chapters, we read: "Then you will know that I am the Lord." "So you will know I am the Lord." It's His heart's desire that we come to know Him; that we draw closer to Him. He wants to teach us of His great love and His desire to protect us. He wants us to know Him as our devoted Father.
Why do you discipline your child when he climbs up on the kitchen counter to get up on top of the refrigerator where the cookie jar is? (I speak from experience, one of my kids tried this.) Because it makes you feel better? No, because you love him and you want to keep him from getting hurt. Even more important, you want him to learn that you are "the boss of him" and that you know what's best for him.
As our Father, we should recognize that He is the Lord. He doesn't give orders for orders sake. He wants to teach us that He knows what's best for us, to keep us safe. We must learn that He is the Boss!
Next time God disciplines you, stop griping and close your eyes. Imagine His love for you. Feel the wonder that the Lord of the Universe cares enough for you to protect you. Thank Him that His discipline is so much less painful than the suffering you would experience if He let you keep going. Praise Him that He is your loving Father and that your are His cherished child .
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should
be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1