The book of Ezekiel is fascinating—and contains an incredibly powerful message. The book begins with five chapters (1-5) of God preparing Ezekiel to deliver His message. The book ends with nine chapters (40-48) of God showing Ezekiel the plans for rebuilding temple and restoring the nation of Israel. But in chapters six through thirty-nine Ezekiel proclaims the message God gives him. And the primary message that Ezekiel delivers is God’s declaration that He is God and, like it or not, everyone will know that. In just thirty-four chapters the phrase, “know that I am God/Lord/Yahweh” is repeated 63 times. Does it seem like God is trying to make a point? For thirty four chapters God outlines His judgments against Israel and the surrounding nations. With every terrible destruction, harsh punishment, slaughter of a city, and eventual rescue of Israel—God says you will know that I am God. The big question is why hasn’t Israel picked up on this yet? For generations, God has been telling them that He is the only true God. For generations they have seen the mighty hand of God that both punishes disobedience and rewards faithfulness. So, why is Israel so slow to recognize the greatness of God?
I can identify one common characteristic each time Israel moves in the direction of unfaithfulness—and it is an issue for us today too! Every time Israel fails to remember God and wanders away it is because they get distracted. They allow the worldly culture around them to shift their focus from God. They are distracted by the people and culture around them. Once distracted, they get caught up in a vain pursuit of popularity, fame and wealth. Like many of us, Israel does not want to be different, they want to fit in. This goes against the desire of God. God does not want His people to fit in, He wants them to be set apart. So, God brings punishment and provides discipline. And the only reason, as Ezekiel reminds them and us, is to remind us over and over that He alone is God. He may not use the same methods today, but the message and His desire for us has not changed. He still is the only God and He wants His people to be set apart from the world for Him.