It’s easy to get bogged down and confused in books like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Words of judgment fill the pages and unfamiliar nations are spoken of.
Tyre, Sidon, Edom, Egypt, Philistia.
How do you interpret all of these messages? How can it possibly encourage a believer in the 21st century?
Many times I’ve read through the book of Ezekiel with a furrowed brow and puzzled heart. “What is going on?” I think. “How can I possibly follow this?” Today included the passages about Gog and Magog. Who are these nations? Bible scholars can’t even tell you definitively.
It’s natural to want to get encouragement from the Bible. We should come to the Word desiring to fellowship with the Father, drawing closer to him. So here’s what I’m doing today with these hard to understand chapters in Ezekiel:
- I am thinking of God’s character on display. He is a God who is in control of history, and not just for the sake of his people. At least 65 times in the book of Ezekiel there is the phrase, “and they will know that I am the Lord.” Above all else, God desires to display his glory in his people and to the nations.
- Even if I can’t understand who all these various enemies are, I do understand the biblical concept of having an enemy. From the beginning of the grand narrative of Scripture, from Genesis 3, the people of God have had an enemy. God has been in the business of defeating the enemies of his people whether that be the King of Moab from Numbers 22 who wished to use Balaam to curse God’s people but instead had them be blessed, or Goliath from 1 Samuel who God defeated with a shepherd boy using a sling and a stone. Here in Ezekiel, God pronounces judgment on Israel’s enemies but declares that Israel will be restored. Again, there’s the theme of salvation through judgment.
- Finally, I am thinking of the assurance of restoration that’s promised. The flow of the whole book of Ezekiel has been the coming judgment on Jerusalem, its destruction along with the cleansing of the land, and then the judgment of God on Israel’s enemies followed by a restoration of the people to their land where God will dwell with them in a gloriously restored temple.
Tomorrow I will read about that restoration. It’s another passage that is confusing. It’s notoriously difficult to interpret. But the main concept is clear. God desires to dwell with his people in a restored land. That’s the consummated kingdom of God – God’s presence in God’s place in the midst of God’s people. It will happen. The Sovereign Lord has declared it and everyone will know that he is the Lord.