By Elizabeth Prata
We read the phrase “then they will know” 21 times in Ezekiel. Nineteen times the phrase is repeated “Then they will know that I am the LORD,” and twice we read “Then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
When you read Ezekiel straight through you can’t help but notice the refrain.
What is it exactly that they will know? And who will know it?
To those living in the mountains and hills of Israel, they knew that it was the LORD who laid waste to the towns and the high places demolished. He said, ‘Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
To the people of Israel, the LORD will bring disaster upon disaster, the worst of the nations to invade and take possession of their homes, with a few escaping to the mountains to moan like doves. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
Because Ammon rejoiced with malice in their heart when Jerusalem was plundered, the LORD gave that nation as a plunder to invaders from the east. He wiped them out from among the nations and exterminated them from the countries. He said, ‘Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
In Tyre, He sent Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to break down walls and demolish fine houses and throw the stones, timber, and rubble into the sea. He put an end to noisy songs, and the music of harps was heard no more. He said ‘Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
He will send plague. He will send drought. He will dry up rivers. He will desolate fields. He will disperse peoples. He will make nations weak.
And they did know.
Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites and Philistines, the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, and Egypt, Jerusalem and Judah and Israel were promised certain judgments against them. When those judgments happened, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
They had inquired of Ezekiel and they listened (but dismissed, did not believe, or mocked in derision). They went their way. But when the thing prophesied came to pass, then they did know. Years might have gone by, but when the event occurred, they knew it was the LORD doing it.
They saw armies come or drought happen or pestilence infect, and then they knew. They understood that the sovereign LORD was not to be mocked, but to be believed. They knew that individual sins and national sins were worthy of judgment against them because sins were against God. They knew that what had been promised had come to pass and it was the LORD orchestrating it.
But do we know? Oftentimes the unbeliever mocks the Bible as having been written by an ancient bunch of desert shepherd ignoramuses, and we’re so much smarter than that now. We’ve advanced. But it’s we who are the ignoramuses.
How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?(Proverbs 1:22)
What’s happening now in America or at any given time in the world is the result of sin. It’s the result of the LORD providentially causing all things to come together for His glory, to fulfill His prophetic plans, and for the good of those who love Him.
We can’t say we know for certain that this event or that circumstance happened because of the Lord doing a particular thing in our lives or our nation. It has not been prophesied specifically. The events that came to pass in Ezekiel were specific and written. There is no America in the Bible so we can’t point to this event or that event and say the LORD is doing it. We do not have the mind of God nor His word written about current events. But in understanding doctrine of providence in general, yes, the Lord is administering these events because He is in sovereign control, for some purpose as yet undisclosed.
What I found especially interesting in Ezekiel as I wrapped up my reading of that book, was Egypt. Their pronouncement was desolation, then after 40 years, restored, but not to former glory. Once upon a time, many nations relied in Egypt with confidence. The LORD promised to destroy their confidence and bring Egypt low.
It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. (Ezekiel 29:15).
America is a modern Egypt, relied upon by many and premier over all nations. We have been for a long time. Is our time done? Will we be like Egypt, brought low? What does America look like to the world right now? To our enemies? China and Iran mock the riots. North Korea certainly is looking on with interest. We can’t handle a mob in Minneapolis. Do we look ripe for the picking to our enemies? Certainly. Will the LORD keep us strong, or allow us to be invaded, and then even if He restores us, make us weak like Egypt?
I can’t say, because the LORD has not revealed His plans for our country. But we are a nation that has turned its back on Him. We are a nation that has an obvious Romans 1 wrath of abandonment going on, because of our rebellion against everything, and I mean, everything, He holds dear. Reading Ezekiel and its litany against nations, lands, and cities for behaving the same as we are now is quite sobering. We should expect no less than they were treated in judgment. We are not special in that way. There is no exception for America to escape national judgment.
Do we know the LORD is alive and active in this world? Do we? When events around us descend into chaos (pestilence, sword, famine, domestic enemies etc) we should take the opportunity not to look around but look up. To know the LORD and to submit to His ways, statutes, judgments.
Nationally, I think we are done for. Individually, I pray that many people who do not know the Lord will ponder these events and come to know Him. Even if we lose our nation, every person in Christ will have gained the Kingdom. Then they will know He is the LORD.