“You Shall Know that I Am the Lord”

Why does God act?

Why did he act on behalf of Israel to bring them out of bondage? Why did he send Israel into exile into Babylon? Why did he judge Israel? Why did he bring Israel out of exile?

Why did he send the Word to become flesh and dwell among us? Why did Jesus bear our sins on the cross? Why was Jesus resurrected?

Why has God continued to act in history? Why does God act in your life and my life today?

As I was reading Ezekiel 4-15 today, the answer to all of those questions became really clear. God acts so that you and I can know that he is Lord. In those chapters, every single thing that God did was followed by the phrase “you shall know that I am the Lord.”

What does God want you to know? That he is Lord.

Below is every time God said “you shall know that I am Lord” in those 11 chapters. God said it 16 times. I think he is trying to make a point about why he does what he does. So, in every situation, in every circumstance, when the way seems cloudy or dark, we should tell ourselves that God is arranging things so that “I will know that he is Lord.”

  • Ezekiel 5:13 – “And they shall know that I am the Lord…”
  • Ezekiel 6:7 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 6:14 – “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 7:4 – “Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 7:9 – “Then you will know that I am the Lord…”
  • Ezekiel 7:27 – “…and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 11:12 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 12:15 – “And they shall know that I am the Lord…”
  • Ezekiel 12:16 – “…and may know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 12:20 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 13:9 – “And you shall know that I am the Lord God.”
  • Ezekiel 13:!4 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 13:21 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 13:23 – “And you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 14:8 – “…and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Ezekiel 15:7 – “…and you will know that I am the Lord…”

Four Creatures, Four Faces, Four Gospels, All Jesus

Ezekiel 1 gives us a picture of Jesus. The end of the chapter says, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”

An interesting facet of the appearance of the Lord are the four living creatures that each had four faces. Ezekiel 1:10 says, “As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.” It was above the heads of these creatures that there was a likeness of a throne where there sat one with a human appearance. The appearance of this one like a human is similar to the appearance of Jesus described by John in Revelation.

So, four living creatures seem to carry the throne on which Jesus sits. In a way, they present Jesus. What do the four faces – a man, lion, ox, and eagle – represent? I think the four faces or sides to Christ presented in the gospels.

Four is the universal number in the Bible. It’s the number that represents the totality of something. Think of the four corners of the earth or the four kingdoms of man described by Daniel. The four gospels represented by the four creatures and four faces give us a universal, complete, or total picture of Jesus.

Each living creature had four faces – one of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. The gospel of Luke is a picture of Jesus as the son of man. Just one indication of this is the genealogy of Jesus given in Luke 3, which goes all the way from his father Joseph back to Adam (and God). Indeed, Jesus was the son of the man, the first man, Adam. The differences in Luke from the other gospels highlight Jesus as a man.

The gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as a lion, the king of Judah. Matthew’s genealogy only goes from Abraham to Jesus. At the center of the genealogy is David, king of Israel. Matthew presents Jesus as the new King David that Israel had been waiting for. In Matthew, Jesus gives long speeches that are like declarations of a king. One of these speeches is the sermon on the mount, which is Jesus as king giving his “law”, recapitulating the story at Mt. Sinai and God giving the law through Moses.

The gospel of Mark presents Jesus as an ox. The ox was the creature that served. It was used by man to plow. The ox is presented this way all throughout scripture. Notice that in Mark there is no genealogy of Jesus. Does anybody care what the genealogy of a servant is? Rather, the gospel begins with the start of Jesus’ ministry as God’s servant. Also, Mark says everything happened “immediately.” Jesus as the servant is always busy and his work never ends.

Finally, the gospel of John presents Jesus as the eagle. Did you ever notice that John has a genealogy? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” As the son of God, Jesus is the one that soars through the heavens but comes down from heaven to the earth.

Read each of the gospels with the thought of these four faces of Jesus and you will pick up on many little details that would otherwise be missed.

Revelation 4:7 says, “the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.” Did you notice the order given by John to the creatures in Revelation? The lion then the ox then the man then the eagle. That’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The order of the gospels.

The Bible wasn’t even put together when John wrote Revelation. There are so many little things like this in the Bible that it becomes obvious that it is divinely inspired…for those that have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Let God Be God, You Seek and Endure

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah describes in great detail the affliction that he suffered (or that the individual he is writing about has suffered). But, in his afflictions and sufferings there is something that he calls to mind.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

Jeremiah goes on to say that the Lord will do what he is going to do, therefore we should not complain. Rather, we should wait for him to fulfill his plan and purpose. We should seek him and see his salvation. In the midst of the trial, when the Lord seems absent, we should examine ourselves, repenting of anything in us that is not of God.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God’s purpose is that we would be conformed to the image of Christ, sharing in Jesus’ glory, partaking of his divine nature. God is making us his sons and daughters.

Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” The chastening is hard and no fun, but it yields the righteousness of Christ in us.

We must remember that this is preparation for eternity. This life is a momentary training ground. “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

 

Therefore, we need to put our faith and trust in God that he knows what he is doing.

Jesus: The Stone the Builders Rejected

Throughout scripture, Babylon is repeatedly pictured as that kingdom that tries to overtake God’s kingdom. In particular, we read this in Genesis 11, Isaiah 14, and throughout Revelation. In Isaiah 14, we see Satan pictured as the king of Babylon declaring that he will ascend to heaven above the stars of God, set his throne on high, sit on the mount of assembly, ascend above the heights of the clouds, and make himself like the Most High. Satan’s desire is to take the place of God and the place of Jesus and forever rule the earth.

But, speaking of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:26 says, “No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the Lord.” Very interesting wording here.

Kingdoms are pictured as mountains in the Bible. In Jeremiah 51:26, we read that no stone will come out of the mountain of Babylon for a corner and a foundation. Satan will not rule the earth, but instead his kingdom will become a perpetual waste.

The specific wording in Jeremiah 51:26 is important because it is in direct contrast to prophecies about Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus and the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar (the kingdom of Babylon and all the kingdoms of men), Daniel 2 says, “As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces…But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth…And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.”

Satan will have no stone taken from his mountain to rule. But, Jesus will be the stone taken from God’s mountain to crush the kingdom of Satan and every kingdom of man and rule the heavens and the earth.

Elsewhere, Jesus is pictured as the stone that becomes the corner and foundation of the temple and God’s kingdom. Isaiah 28:16 says, “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.’” And, Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.”

Peter and Paul quote these scriptures and tie them to Jesus in several of their letters in the New Testament.

The more familiar we become with scripture, the more we see each theme and idea, thread and strand, woven throughout it that reveals more and more of Jesus.

You Must Come in Sincerity and Truth

In Jeremiah 42, a remnant of Judah comes to Jeremiah and asks him to pray to God for God to have mercy on them. Jeremiah says he will pray for them and tell them whatever God tells him. The remnant of Judah says that they will do whatever God says, they will obey his voice, whether it is good or bad.

Jeremiah goes away to pray and comes back with a word for them. He tells the remnant that they should stay in the land, Judah, if they want it to go well with them. But, if they decide to not stay in the land, to disobey God, and go to Egypt, then they will be overtaken by the sword and famine, both of which they fear. But, Jeremiah didn’t just give them this word. He continued by saying that God says he poured out his wrath on the remnant while they were in Judah and he will do so when they go to Egypt. Notice that God already knew the remnant of Judah would go to Egypt when he answered them through Jeremiah.

How and why did God know this? Because the remnant did not come to him sincerely. In chapter 43, the remnant said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, “Do not go to Egypt to live there.” The remnant went to Jeremiah seeking God’s mercy with their minds already set on what they wanted. And, that was the only answer they would accept. They were not sincere about doing whatever God told them whether it was good or bad.

In chapter 44, we see that this was because the remnant preferred to trust in all of their idols. Even though God came to them time and time again telling them not to go after those idols and abominations, they did it anyway. They were bringing everything that was going to happen to them upon themselves. The remnant refused to humble themselves before God. They wanted an answer from God that confirmed what they wanted.

Paul writes everything written in the Old Testament is written for our learning. So, what do we learn here? When we come to Jesus we need to come in sincerity and truth. We need to come humbly, truly desiring his will and not our own. The moment we come to Jesus God already knows if we are approaching him humbly or not. Let us take heed in what we ask God to do and how we say we are going to respond.

Last Words: “Let Him Go Up”

In the period of the judges, Israel asked for a king so that they could be like all the other nations around them. This was a rejection of God, because unlike all the other nations that had a man as their king, Israel had God as their king. When they asked God for a king, God told Israel what having a king would do to them and that it would not go well.

So, it’s interesting to know how the books of the Hebrew Bible are ordered, which is different than the ordering of our Old Testament. The last book of the Hebrew Bible is 2 Chronicles. Listen what it says about the last king and the people of Israel before they were exiled from the land:

“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.”

God brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt through miraculous works of his great power. God gave them a land with cities and vineyards, full of milk and honey, that they did not have to build. God even drove out the people that were occupying that land for Israel. But, Israel rejected God as their king. And, the Hebrew order of the Old Testament ends with the last king and the people completely rejecting God and in full rebellion against him. Israel became like the nations around them, full of all the abominations and evil and wickedness that those nations had done.

It wasn’t because God didn’t try to stop it. 2 Chronicles continues, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”

Here we see the longsuffering, the patience, and the kindness of God. He did everything for his people that he could. But, God created us with the capability to reject him. And, if that is chosen, then there is no remedy for that. But…

God is a god of hope. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says that faith, hope and love abide. Elsewhere in the New Testament is says that our hope is in Christ. He lives forever and so does our hope. There is always hope with God.

So, even though Israel had completely rejected God and there appeared to be no remedy, the final words of 2 Chronicles and the Hebrew Bible say, “Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.” These words were spoken by a Gentile king that God was going to use to free his people from exile so that they could begin to rebuild the temple of God. The very last words – “let him go up” – ring out with the hope that there will be a people that meet with God, whose garden and dwelling place were often pictured on a mountain.

The Rechabites: An Example to Israel and to Us

In Jeremiah 35, we are told of the Rechabites. This was a group of people that did not descend from Abraham, but joined the nation of Israel in their wilderness wandering prior to entering the land. Jonadab, the father of this people, had commanded them to drink no wine, build no house, sow no seed, plant or have no vineyard, but dwell in tents all their days. Even though everyone else in Israel did these things, the Rechabites kept the commandments of their father for roughly 300 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, when Israel was under siege from Babylon, the Rechabites were forced into the city of Jerusalem. While there, Jeremiah brought them into the temple and offered them wine to drink. Despite their thirst because of the siege, the Rechabites refused to drink the wine Jeremiah gave them in order to keep the command of their father.

So, God used the example of the Rechabites keeping the command of their father as a rebuke against Israel. The example was not what they were commanded to do but that they kept the command of their father. In Jeremiah 35:13-15, God said, “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the Lord. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me.”

So, this group of people who joined Israel was willing to keep the command of their father for hundreds of years even in the midst of great hardship. But, Israel, whose father was God, the creator of heaven and earth, refused to hear the command of God and obey. They refused to listen to him even though he persistently told them how to have life, how to be blessed.

So, what is our problem? God sent us his son to perfectly reveal himself to us. He left us a record of how he has dealt with his people through history. He has written his law on our hearts and given us his Holy Spirit to teach it to us. I’d say he has persistently spoken to us. But, are we willing to listen to Him?

The problem is not with God, but us. Let us our lay down our thoughts, our desires, and our wills so that we can hear and obey God.

What’s Your Problem: Listening or Speaking to God?

Certainly, prayer is very important for the Christian, the follower of Jesus. While the Bible says we should make our requests known to God, I think the more important part of prayer is listening.

John 5:19 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’”

In John 12:49, Jesus says, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”

Jesus did what he saw the Father doing and said what he heard the Father saying. I believe this is why he got alone to pray so much – to hear and see clearly. So, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus said to hallow the name of the Father and then said “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s kingdom comes by our hearing and seeing what he is doing, through prayer, and then obeying his will on earth and just as it is obeyed in heaven. (Interestingly, it was after listening to God, asking for his kingdom and will to be done, that Jesus said to ask for your needs – probably because your needs would be in the proper perspective then.)

The emphasis on hearing the word of the Lord is throughout scripture. It has been particularly prevalent in reading Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 29:18-20 says, “‘I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’ Hear the word of the Lord…”

Over and over, Jeremiah, and the rest of the Bible, says to hear God, listen to his prophets, hear the word that he is speaking through them. Repeatedly we are told to listen to God. And, as in the verse above, it’s the failure to listen that causes our problems. I can’t recall a time where God says if we don’t speak to him we will have problems and that it’s because we didn’t speak to him and tell him all our problems that he is bringing some sort of chastisement or judgment on us.

So, it seems the emphasis in prayer should be listening. Indeed, when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, God said, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well please. Listen to Him!”

The Way of Death Was to Stay in Jerusalem?

As I’ve been reading Jeremiah the last few days, it seems so relevant to our time today.

In short, Jerusalem and Judah were in full rebellion against God. The leaders, the shepherds, were not feeding and protecting the people. Instead, they were enriching themselves through injustice and oppression. So, God was going to bring Babylon against them and send them into exile.

They came to Jeremiah, asking him to inquire of the Lord for them. In Jeremiah 21:8-10, Jeremiah says, “And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set you before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’”

What!?!? The way of death was to stay in Jerusalem? This was the city where God had caused his name to dwell. This was his holy city. Shouldn’t the people fight to stay in God’s city, where he dwelt, where the temple was? Shouldn’t they defend it against the king of Babylon? No, because God had set his face against it. He had seen its wickedness and corruption. God saw the city and that it was full of evil. So, God was going to put an end to that. To stay in the city, to defend the wickedness, the evil, and the oppression would be to go against God. Therefore, to go with God would be to flee the city. To go with God was the way of life.

Our government, political system, and rich leaders are full of corruption, evil, and wickedness. It is a continual oppression to people in this country and around the world. God’s people should not be a part of that. It seems to me in Jeremiah that God isn’t saying that you should stay in it, try and fix it up, and fight for it. Because God’s kingdom will consume every kingdom of man in the end. All the nations are but dust before him.

Instead of staying to defend and fight for the city that had become corrupt, God tells his people what to do in the next chapter. Jeremiah 22:3-5, “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.” Don’t fight against the king of Babylon who God sent to destroy Jerusalem. Instead do justice, righteousness, and no wrong to those who have been taken advantage of or are helpless.

What’s a possible application for us?

There is no need for American Christians to lend their support to our corrupt government. There is no need to defend it, to fight against God ending its wickedness. Simply come out from it and do justice, righteousness and mercy. God’s kingdom is completely different than the kingdoms of this world. As Christians, we have transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are strangers and sojourners in the earth. Like Jesus, we are without a home, a place to lay our head. We are ambassadors in a foreign land, representing our Lord whose kingdom is completely different than the one we are currently sent to.

Later in chapter 24, Jeremiah has a vision of very good figs and very bad figs. The very good figs were the ones that went with God, that left the city, that became exiles. The very bad figs were the ones that stayed and tried to defend what Jerusalem had become and what God wanted to destroy.

Jeremiah 24:4-10 says, “Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall by me people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”

Let us be the very good figs that go with God.

Jeremiah’s Words Sound Like Jesus

Pride: a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements

In Jeremiah 10-16, this is Israel’s problem. They viewed their successes as a result of their own actions instead of as the hand of God upon them. Because of their pride, they refused to listen to God. And, they made idols – gods that they could control and make to their own liking. God said, “For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, ‘Obey my voice.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart.”

But, within Jeremiah’s calling out Israel’s pride, are his words that sound a lot like Jesus.

“Woe is me because of my hurt! My wound is grievous. But I said, ‘Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.’ My tent is destroyed, and all my cords are broken; my children have gone from me, and they are not; there is no one to spread my tent again and to set up my curtains.”

“The Lord made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.’”

“O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

Praise God that as Jeremiah was speaking truth in the midst of Israel’s pride and apostasy we have Jesus speaking to us.