TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 5-8
“Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am Lord – that I have spoken in my jealousy – when I spend my fury upon them.” – Ezekiel 5:13
This is the first verse in Ezekiel that the phrase “know that I am Lord” appears in the book. But, this is just the beginning of God saying “know that I am Lord.” In fact, the phrase “know that I am Lord” appears 72 times in Ezekiel.
In yesterday’s post, we saw that the book of Ezekiel beings with the initiation of Ezekiel’s ministry, which is a shadow of the initiation of Jesus’ ministry through his baptism.
In today’s reading, we find the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry. God wants us to “know that I am Lord.” And, this was theme of Jesus’ ministry. He came to reveal the Father. Jesus came to reveal the kingdom of God. Jesus told us he only did and said what the Father did and said. He told us that if we have seen him then we have seen the Father. Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Why was it that from now the disciples would know the Father?
Because in less than 24 hours Jesus would be crucified, revealing the ultimate display of God’s love.
Is there any significance to the fact that “know that I am Lord” is the theme of Ezekiel’s and Jesus’ ministry and the phrase appears 72 times in Ezekiel?
I have answered this in a previous post. But, I want to add another dimension to that in this post.
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he was about to go. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house!” And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.”‘” – Luke 10:1-11
Just as God says in Ezekiel “know that I am Lord” 72 times, Jesus sent out 72 disciples to proclaim that the Lord was coming by healing the sick and declaring “the kingdom of God has come near you.”
Later, Luke 10:17-20 says, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'”
Here we see a further significance of the number 72 and know that I am Lord. Note that Jesus sent out the 72 in pairs of two. This means that were 36 pairs of disciples sent out by Jesus.
What is the significance of 36?
Six is the number of man. Six times six, or six squared, is 36. We could think of 36 as the exalted man since it is six squared. Th exalted man is a man of the flesh. And the flesh, our carnal nature, is our enemy of it is hostile to God.
Romans 8:5-8 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but to those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind of the flesh is death. but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
So, we can see in this passage that living according to the flesh makes us an enemy with God.
Further, Revelation 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” There is no article “a” or “the” in the Greek. So, this verse could also read “the number of man.”
We saw above that six squared, 36, is the intensification of man, the exalted, man given over to his flesh. Interestingly, if we add the numbers 1 through 36 together we get the number 666. This is the number of the beast, the enemy of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and God.
So, a more general meaning of the number 36 is the enemy, the adversary, of God, of which the flesh is one.
Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We defeat the flesh by crucifying it.
This is interesting because the number 36 is written with the Hebrew letters lamed and vav, which mean authority and nail. The number 36 then is the authority of the nail, or the crucifixion defeating the enemy.
So, we have 72 disciples sent out by Jesus to proclaim the Lord was coming and the kingdom of God was near. They were to heal the sick. Their mission was for people to know that Jesus is Lord. Yet, they were sent out in 36 pairs. By proclaiming that Jesus was Lord and the kingdom was near, these 36 pairs of disciples would be defeating the enemy.
And that is just what the disciples did on their mission. And, it is why they returned rejoicing and saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
Even Jesus’ statement “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” is a reference to the defeat of the enemy. Further, Jesus says that he has given these 36 pairs authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of enemy. In other words, when you know that I am Lord you will have authority over the enemy and defeat him.
But, notice what Jesus closes this lesson with. He says do not rejoice in your authority over the enemy, that the spirits are subject to you. Rather, rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Instead, rejoice that you “know that I am Lord” for that is why our names are written in heaven.