I will take you out of it and give you over to the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. You shall fall by the sword; I will judge you at the border of Israel. And you shall know that … – Ezekiel 11:9-10
“And you shall know” … what?
Here’s the pattern of Ezekiel: The first half of Ezekiel is, as my Bible calls it, a “message of doom.” Most of the second half is a “message of hope.”
The first half is a warning to the people of Judah. In chapter 16, for example, God poetically relates how he …
- took a weak, struggling group of people (“16:5 On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die.”)
- pledged himself to them in covenant (the marriage covenant was the image God used to describe his love and relationship; he made Judah his “16:13 queen.”)
- and made them prosper (“16:9 I bathed you and washed off your blood … I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin … 16:10 I gave you expensive clothing … goatskin leather … lovely jewelry … and … a crown for your head.”)
That’s the good news, but this is the “message of doom” section of Ezekiel. The bad news in chapter 16 starts with a “but.” “15 But you [Judah] thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you [my covenant bride, you] gave yourself as a prostitute to every man [every foreign nation and false prophet] who came along. … 30 What a sick heart you have … 35 Therefore, you prostitute, … because you have … exposed yourself in prostitution … 37 this is what I am going to do. … 39 I will give you to these many nations who are your lovers … They will strip you and take your beautiful jewels, leaving you stark naked.”
Ezekiel prophesied that Judah would become like carcasses scattered by war in a dust dry valley. They would become scattered, indeed, like a valley full of dry bones. The “message of hope” in chapter 37 tells us that God would eventually breathe life back into those bones, stitching them back together (reuniting God’s people back in Jerusalem). That’s the “message of hope” …
… but this is the “message of _____” portion of Ezekiel. Actually, I don’t consider it a message of “doom”; it is instead of message of tough love. They’re hearts are prostituted. And that’s not a path to life at all! They’re dying. And God is trying to keep them from death. But … it’ll take some tough love. He says,
- “9 I will take you out of [your land]…
- “9 I will … give you over to the hands of foreigners …”
- “9 I will execute judgments upon you.”
- “10 You shall fall by the sword …
- “10 I will judge you at the border of Israel.”
“10 And you shall know” … what?
That’s the question. And the answer is the hope. Ezekial says, “10 And you shall know that I am the Lord”! That’s life … because only God brings life. That’s hope … because only life with God is ultimately hope. It’s going to take tough love to get them honor their covenant. And tough love breaks the Father’s heart, just like tough love breaks any good parent’s heart.
Thus, the first half of Ezekiel is not really a “message of doom.” It’s a “message of tough love.” And while the second half is definitely a “message of hope,” it’s also a “message of renewing love.”
In other words, prophecy – even the hard part – is message of … love.
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who prefers
tough love to