Search This Blog

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More On Knowing God

I blogged a few days ago about the notion of believing in God versus knowing God.  I'd been impressed with how purposeful God has been through the Bible to show us that knowing Him relationally is really the end game.  Recently, I've been overwhelmed with another Biblical truth.  It's found in a pattern of speech.  The best example of it is found in the book of Ezekiel.

You may remember that Ezekiel was a prophet, called by God to call the Israelites to repentance.  He spoke for God (which is what prophets do even today), and carried very dire warnings to the Israelites.  (And they of course did not want to hear whatever Ezekiel had to say.)  Anyway, if we examine the things that God told Ezekiel to say to the Israelites, there is a peculiar pattern that is demonstrated over and over again.  Let's take a look.

"Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.  I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD."  (Ezekiel 13:13-14) (NIV)

Did you catch that?  God was speaking (through Ezekiel) to the false prophets.  He basically explained how they would experience His wrath in response to their sin and rebellion, neither of which had been confessed or repented of, or even admitted to.  But God said the result of Him pouring out His anger on them would be that they would know that He is the Lord.  And there is the pattern that I see.

The pattern is evident in many other places in the Bible too.  Just in the book of Ezekiel, we see it in Ezekiel 12:15-16 & 18-10.  We see it in Ezekiel 13:8-9, 13-14 (above), & 20-21.  First we have the sin and rebellion which the Israelites refused to admit, confess, or repent of and turn from.  Second we have the pouring out of God's wrath - typically in the form of weather disasters or acts of war.  And these Scripture references always conclude with the phrase, "... then they (or you) will know that I am the Lord."

So it seems to me that God is showing us that unconfessed and unrepented-of sin is a result of people not really knowing God.  His remedy seems to be expressing His wrath in the form of discipline or punishment that comes from natural disasters (which we call, in modern times, "acts of God").  Or God's wrath and discipline or punishment can come from acts of war - where God uses evil people to implement His discipline of those He's called to be His own.

Maybe I'm a little nutty, but I have to tell you that I can't read such passages without thinking of the natural disasters and acts of war that we have today.  The Islamic attack on the U.S. that we refer to as "9/11."  The Asian tsunami.  The earthquake in Japan.  The tornadoes in the south (of the U.S.)  The flooding of the Midwest (U.S.)  The disaster in New Orleans.  Is it possible that these things were allowed to happen - or even caused to happen - by God?  And if God did purposefully allow or cause these things, was their purpose to help us get a clue (i.e., know that He is the Lord)?

I'm not a radical, Bible-thumping, holy-roller here.  I'll be that last one to point the finger at someone else and say that their suffering is a result of sin that they haven't dealt with.  But I have to say, knowing that God never changes and His character never wavers affects how I read the Bible.  I cannot read these passages of Scripture and see these patterns of how God deals with His chosen people - and not think of what's going on in the world today.

And maybe that's the point.  Maybe, just maybe, God wants us to take a spiritual inventory when we are faced with perplexing natural disasters and acts of war.  And maybe, just maybe, He wants us to admit, confess, and repent of whatever sin we might have in our lives.  Do you suppose then, for example, that if Americans made it a habit to be diligent about repenting of our sin --- that America might experience fewer natural disasters and have less wars to fight?

No comments:

Post a Comment