And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I…
The above phrase is offered repeatedly in Ezekiel as God speaks through His prophet. It should be said, despite the point I will make today, that the majority of these references in Ezekiel’s writings refer to destruction, dispersion, and problems in general for the people of God, at the allowance and even orchestration of God Himself. I know that this is a tender topic in today’s world, a world that eschews spankings and demonizes any kind of corporal punishment. But I just don’t have the energy this morning to wade into those waters.
I guess it just struck me as encouraging, despite the disciplinary context, that even in the midst of less than perfect behavior God’s greatest desire is not to rooted in “keeping us in line” or “getting us to act right” but it is that we would “know Him”. He does this not out of an unfulfilled social need, but out of His great love for us He knows that there is no greater thing for us, no greater producer of joy, peace, pleasure, and good than to “know Him”.
The challenge of disciplining children as a parent is at least two-fold. First, it is unacceptable for me to discipline or punish my children with the sole motivation being my convenience. The obvious point should be stated, children are people too, and in their person-hood they have just as much of a right to their whims as adults (though part of the learning process does include instruction as to when to shut your mouth for the sake of someone else – the Bible even teaches us to “prefer our brother above ourselves”).
After my motivations are correct, the second challenge is disciplining in such a way that brings rest to the disciplined. I heard a story a couple of years ago about a young man going through the intense training program to become a Navy SEAL. A fair amount of the training takes place under water, as diving and aquatic based operation is a signature of the SEALS. During one of the more intense training exercises an aspiring SEAL looked up from the pool, after failing to remain under water long enough to complete his assignment, and looked up at his instructor and asked, “what if I drown down there trying to finish this thing?” Without any hint of compassion, and without the slightest trace of doubt in his voice the instructor looked at the recruit and said, “If you drown I know I can bring you back to life.”
That sounds harsh to many of us. It sounds arrogant and irresponsible and probably even mean. But, in the heat of battle, in the thick of the fight, in the worst possible scenario I can tell you for a fact that if I’ve got to follow someone and be under someone’s command, I want it to be the guy who can bring me back from the dead. The harsh hand of discipline in the book of Ezekiel is betrayed by the soft heart of love that our Creator shows. He loves His people, He longs for His people, and He is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that His people live the lives that they were designed to live, not the ones that they wind up living by way of the path of least resistance.
May we pursue God today. Friends, may we be not just attempt to do the right things, but may we with our whole hearts attempt to “know Him”. And in that pursuit may we know that He will do whatever it takes to bring us to that knowledge. In our rebellion He may wound, but He always wraps and dresses the wound. It’s a curious reality that the inflictor of the wound would also be the physician that heals the wound, but this is only possible because God is greater than His own judgment. In Jesus, we see a God who will take the wounds of the world upon Himself to gloriously and vividly show us exactly what we should have gotten, but didn’t. He is the One who can look at us and say, no matter what happens, “I can bring you back to life.”
Doesn’t it make sense that we would want to know Him? I challenge you to try Him, to know Him. He is worth both knowing and being known by.
When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration and a renewed intimacy with God.
– Charles Stanley