The walk of faith isn’t an easy one. Anyone who thinks differently probably hasn’t yet been in many situations when absolute trust in God was the only option.
There’s so much about the Lord that we don’t know. But how can we expect our finite minds to even begin to understand the mind and ways of an infinite God, who has every right to do things His way without consulting us for our opinions on what and when and why and how?
Yet, we still wonder.
Why does God do what He does – and why does He often do it in ways that don’t compute for us?
Admittedly, such things are far beyond my theological pay grade. However, in reading the Old Testament I’ve come across a recurring statement that could shine just a wee bit of light on such overarching questions. What is it? It’s a simple but forthright declaration, “That they will know that I am the Lord God.”
These words – with slight variations – appear many times in the book of Ezekiel, as well as numerous other times throughout other Old Testament books. Whether it’s sending plagues; parting an expansive body of water; providing a new kind of food to feed a couple million Israelites; exacting punishments on people who defied His commands; writing cryptic messages on a wall; or performing other supernatural acts, God seems to have one overriding desire: “That they will know that I am the Lord.”
For example, in chapters 28-30 of Ezekiel alone, while describing the severe judgment He has planned for Tyre, Sidon, Egypt and other enemies of the Israelites, God concludes by announcing, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” But even for the Israelites, His judgments – along with His bountiful blessings – are accompanied by the same motivation: “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” as He repeats in Ezekiel 36:38, or as stated in a slightly different way in 37:14, “Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.”
Why is this so important? Think of it this way: How many times have you heard about some famous person – a movie star, politician, pro athlete or someone else of note – that was stopped by law enforcement officers for some alleged violation and almost the first thing out of their mouths was, “Don’t you know who I am?” As if their status merited special treatment.
Can you imagine what would happen if acclaimed celebrities got up to sing or to speak, and received no introduction and no applause after their performance? Don’t you think they’d at least give the audience a look as if to say, “Don’t you know who I am?”
This difference between their desire to be known and God’s is obvious: They are normal human beings, perhaps given more notoriety than most, but humans just the same. God is the Creator of not only this world and all we know of it, but also the entire universe with its wondrous complexity. We think of His miracles as recorded in the Scriptures, but every day we experience and witness myriad miracles – all of the Lord’s making.
From the intricacies of DNA to the predictable changing of the seasons, from the perfect tilt of the earth and the precision of its orbit around the sun to the astounding array of living creatures found in nature, we have the wonderful opportunity to know and serve a God of incomparable creative capacity. His work, which continues to this day, would dwarf the combined efforts of every person who has ever lived or is yet to be born.
As it says in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Reading through the Old Testament, we can see the perplexing ebb and flow of the Israelites’ faith and devotion to Jehovah God. While being led by godly prophets and kings, they would experience the Lord’s blessings. Once those leaders had passed, however, they would soon become distracted and enticed by pagan beliefs and turn to the worship of false gods. All the God had done for them was quickly forgotten. And their rebellion and disobedience would lead to one trouble after another.
Is it any wonder that God would find it necessary to perform extraordinary, supernatural acts of judgment to chasten His chosen people and turn their hearts back to Him?
We are living in times when, like the Israelites of thousands of years ago, many people have forgotten God. Our nation, once founded upon Judeo-Christian principles anchored in the Bible, have largely rejected Him, replacing Him with the worship of practically anything and everything else – self, politics, power, ideologies, “Mother Nature,” wealth, materialism, even sports teams.
The God of the Bible? “Who’s that?” likely would be the response from countless millions, despite being surrounded by boundless evidence of His existence and handiwork.
What might He be up to now? My guess – or opinion – is as good as yours, and vice versa. But I think it would be safe to state He is indeed working in such ways that sooner or later, “They will know that I am the Lord God.”
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.