How passionate is God about being in relationship with you? How much does he love you? Do you ever wonder about this? Does God seem distant?
Keep reading, and I think you’ll find out how God really feels about you.
So far in our study of Ezekiel 38, we’ve learned about the vast armies of Gog and Magog (read more about them here) and their allies from all over the world surrounding God’s people to destroy them. As threatening as that might seem, God comes to Israel’s defense and wins the victory. But at the very end of Ezekiel chapter 38, God says something fascinating in verse 23.
The result of the global war is that God’s greatness and holiness are made known to the nations. All will know that he is the Lord. Once again, there’s the most repeated phrase of Ezekiel: God’s desire is to be known. We could scratch our heads a bit and ask, “Wait a minute, God, if you want to be known by all people, why did you just destroy the armies of Gog?” That is a good question, if we are reading this passage literally. But this is apocalyptic literature, as we learned in the previous post, which means that it is almost certainly not meant to be taken literally. It is highly unlikely that God, in Ezekiel 38 and 39, is describing a future world war. Instead we look for the principles embedded in the passage and we focus on them.
What are the principles we learn in chapter 38? There are many, but I’d like to highlight two. First, it is not a good idea to bet against God. God wins in the end. Second, God desires to be known by all people. God’s passion for relationship with all people of the world is so powerful, so intense that he will do what is necessary to make it possible for all people to know him! Think about the loving heart of God that wants to be in relationship with you, with your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors.
The imagery of chapter 38 is that of something getting in the way of relationship to God, and God doing the work to remove that barrier. But we’re only halfway there. There is more to come in chapter 39. God is not done with Gog and Magog. Read what comes next in Ezekiel chapter 39, verses 1-8.
How about that? More of the same apocalyptic imagery as what we read in chapter 38. God takes dramatic and powerful action against Gog and Magog. Why? Because, as we read in verse 6, then they will know that he is the Lord. Not just Israel, but all nations will know that he is the Lord, and they will know that he is holy. So far in chapters 38 and 39, we have seen God repeatedly talking about his holiness. He wants his reputation to be that of holiness. He is the holy God, and he wants everyone to know it. Why? Isn’t it obvious that God is holy?
To answer the question of why God wants everyone to know that he is holy, first we need to answer the question, what does it mean that God is “Holy”?
When you think of God as holy, what comes to mind? That he is pure? That he is perfect? Those are good answers, but the meaning of “holy” is “to be set apart.” That which is holy is utterly different from everything else. There is no god like our God. He is the one and only true God. All other gods are false gods. In this sense, God is the holy, the one and only.
In Ezekiel 38 & 39, God wants everyone to know that he is holy. In other words, God is clearly saying, “All people of the world, those other gods that you followed and worshiped…they are false gods. I am the one true God. I want to be in relationship with you. I don’t want you to be deceived!”
Then to show them that it is not just his word against their word, he authenticates the holiness of his name by his victory over evil. God isn’t just saying, “Ooo, ooo, pick me, I am the one true God.” He is showing he is holy by his victory. God wants it to be known that there are no other options. He is the only one.
But wait a minute. Isn’t it obvious that God is holy, the one true God? Maybe to us it is. But who God is would not be obvious to the people in Ezekiel’s day. Why not?
Check back tomorrow as we’ll find out in the next post.