Ezekiel Bible Study (A New Heart)

Ezekiel 4-7, You Will Know I Am The Lord


What does God want us to know about him? There are times when God is speaking with his people that he says, “You need to know this about me.” In Ezekiel 4-7 there is a staggering repetition made by the Lord to the people through the prophet Ezekiel. You will see this statement repeatedly made, “Then you will know I am the Lord.” In fact, God will say this 8 times in these chapters. So what does God want his people to know? More accurately, what is God going to do so that the people will know that he is the Lord? What God wants us to know about him and how he will get the world to know these truths is very important for our walk with God because it will draw us closer to our Father when we see his heart and his desire for us.

Visuals of Judgment (4:1-5:17)

First, God is going to teach the people through a number of visual activities. In the first three verses of chapter 4, Ezekiel is told to take a brick, engrave the name Jerusalem on it, and then set up camps and siegeworks attacking the city. Further, God is pictured as setting his face toward the city, showing that God is against Jerusalem and bringing the attack against them.

Second, the punishment of the people is pictured. Ezekiel is told to lay on his left side for 390 days which is equal to the number of years of Israel’s punishment (4:4-5). This is a picture of bearing the punishment of the people. Then Ezekiel is told to lay on his right side for 40 days which is equal to the number of years of Judah’s punishment. Now one of the challenges is trying to figure out what the 390 years and 40 years are pointing to in Israel’s history. It is important to note that throughout the book of Ezekiel, the terms “Israel” and “Judah” are used interchangeably. We will see this as we go forward in our studies over the next few weeks. It makes sense that these terms are used interchangeably since the actual northern nation of Israel had been destroyed and scattered about 130 years earlier in 722 BC by the Assyrian Empire.

When thinking about 40 years in Israel’s history, we are reminded about Israel’s failure and judgment in the wilderness. We will come back to this in a moment. The 390 years seem to point to the time of Israel’s history. Adding 390 years to the time when Ezekiel is prophesying moves us back to the days of when Solomon becomes king of Israel. The picture is that Israel’s entire existence has been one of constant rebellion. So Ezekiel will lay on his left side the bear the punishment due to Israel because it is entire history of rebellion. Then Ezekiel will lay on his right side to represent Israel’s other great failure toward God. But why bring up the 40 years? Why not just keep to the 390 years as the picture of bearing the punishment of the people? I think the 40 years are given for Ezekiel’s right side because it does carry a message of hope. The 40 years were a time of judgment on Israel but also a promise that the next generation would enter the promised land after the 40 years were complete. So Ezekiel lays on his left side for 390 days for the complete rebellion of Israel and then his right side for 40 days for their failure and future hope after failure.

The third picture shows Ezekiel cooking bread over human dung to represent the uncleanness and horror what the people will experience during the Babylonian invasion (4:10-14). It will be a time of famine and difficulty. Ezekiel cannot bear to carry out this picture, defiling himself by cooking his food over human dung. God then allows Ezekiel to cook the bread over cow dung. God is showing that he controls the prosperity and economy of a country. The people will be measuring out grain and water because conditions will be so bad.

The fourth picture is in chapter 5 where God tells Ezekiel to cut his hair and beard and then measure them out. One-third of those hairs are to be burned in fire. One-third of those hairs were to be struck with a sword. Finally, one-third of those hairs are to be scattered to the wind. But then God tells Ezekiel to take a small number of hairs and hide them in his robe. But then he was take some of those hidden hairs and burn them in the fire. This pictures how the people were going to be consumed by pestilence and famine, by sword, or scattered (5:12).

What God Does (6:1-7; 7:14-27)

Now it is easy for us to tune out after hearing these vivid images of judgment. But I want us to press closely to the text and listen to what God says he is doing and why he is doing this. In the first seven verses of chapter 6 God says that he is going to destroy their high places, their altars, and their idols. God says their dead bodies will lie in front of the idols that they worshipped. Now I want us to think about two key truths that God is expressing. God will destroy the thing we worship and we destroy ourselves worshipping those idols.

First, consider that God will destroy the thing we worship. I was amazed on my last vacation to be able to go to so many ancient cities where there were Greek and Roman temples. But there was something that really captured my attention after being able to visit Rome, Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth. In every single city, all of the temples that had been built to the gods were in ruins. Not some of them but all of them were in ruins. They were in ruins to such an extent that there was barely one stone left on another. The stones were scattered everywhere. God destroys what we worship. God destroys our idols. God destroys our altars. God destroys our temples.

Now we might think we are in the clear since we do not have these kinds of temples, altars, and idols. Or do we? God destroys our idols. God destroys the things that we put our hope and trust in. God will put us in hardships and suffering to destroy the things that we are trusting in. Think about how the apostle Peter made this point.

You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6–7 CSB)

Notice that Peter says we experience various trials so that our faith is refined like gold is refined by fire. What is being purged out of us so that our faith in refined? It is our idols. It is the things we put our hope and trust in. God is destroying in us what we put our hope and trust in and this is for our own good. God is working to get these false gods eradicated from our hearts and lives.

This is exemplified in Ezekiel 7:14-27. Notice that God says that the people will make preparations for war but it will not help nor matter (7:14). God will make them lose in war. The people are going to cast their silver and gold into the streets because their wealth will not be able to deliver them. You know that we have seen times like this, even though it can seem illogical. After a hurricane, cash is nearly useless. When there is no food in the store, what good is all your cash? This is what God is showing. Your wealth is useless and God is destroying it because they trust in it. God also says in Ezekiel 7:19 that the people will no longer have satisfaction. Even their hunger will not be able to be satisfied. God is the only reason that we can enjoy anything in life and he can take that away. God says he will give their riches to the invaders (7:21). God will allow violence to roam the land (7:22-23). God will use the wicked to destroy them (7:24). God will make sure that they will no longer have peace (7:25). This is all in God’s hands. God will break the idols that we have in our hearts and lives.

Now think about the second consideration we are told in Ezekiel 6:1-7. We destroy ourselves worshiping these idols. We destroy ourselves by putting our hope and trust in anything else or anyone else but God. Nothing else is worthy of our hope and trust because they cannot fulfill our needs or satisfy our desires. Thinking your idol is going to make you happy and satisfy only destroys your life in the process. What we are seeing in our culture today represents this truth. People are destroying their bodies trying to find happiness in their idols. The apostle Paul said the same thing in Romans 1.

What God Wants You To Know (6:8-14; 7:1-13)

So what does God want us to know? What are the key truths that he is teaching through judgment? There is one main truth on which five other truths rest. Look at Ezekiel 6:8-10.

8 “Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, 9 then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. 10 And they shall know that I am the LORD. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” (Ezekiel 6:8–10 ESV)

Let what God said sink in. God is broken over our idolatry. God is broken over our eyes that look to anything else but him and broken over our hearts that desire anything else but him. I want us to see that emotion. God want us to know this: he is broken that we do not desire him. He is broken that we do not want to give him our time, our love, our passion, and our efforts. He is broken that we would turn to anything else but him. Idolatry grieves God. Think about this like a marriage relationship. How broken you would be to know that your spouse would rather be anywhere else but with you! How broken you would be to know that your spouse would rather be with anyone else but you! Friends, this is the reason for judgment. Our sinning devastates our God.

So what are these five truths that hang from this big idea? What is God’s judgment accomplishing? First, you will know that God gave you everything you had and you threw it away (5:13-17). Sending famine, desolation, pestilence, and economic downturn were to show the people that God was the reason you had prosperity and blessings. God warned this in Deuteronomy 8. Don’t forget that your wealth and prosperity is because of me or I will take it away. You will know that I am the Lord when I show you that you had what you had because I gave it to you.

Second, you will know that God keeps his word (6:10, 13, 14). Time and God’s patience cause people to think that God will not keep his words of warning and judgment. These judgments are to teach us today that God does keep his word. If he promises judgment, then judgment is coming. God is teaching us to take his words seriously because he will do what he says. You will know I am the Lord when I keep my word.

Third, you will know that God judges sins (7:1-9). God says that he will judge the people according to their ways. This is the last thing anyone should want. God will take what you have done and judge you by those actions. Judgment is to show us and warn us that God will judge our sins. The apostle Paul made this point very clear.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

We will be judged by our actions. Prior judgments of God show this to be true. You will know that I am the Lord when I judge peoples and nations for their sins.

Fourth, you will know that God is the only giver of satisfaction and peace. This point is made in places like Ezekiel 4:9-17 and Ezekiel 7:23-27. Prosperity would be turned to anxiety. Disaster will follow disaster. People will seek peace when anguish comes but will not find it. These events are to show that the only person who can give you peace and satisfaction is God.

Finally, you will know that God is your only hope. This point is made throughout these chapters. When disaster comes and your armies do not help, and your wealth does not help, and there is no peace, and violence roams the land, what else is this to show except God is your only hope for rescue. God is broken by our sinning and is showing us that he is the reason we have everything.

Friends, we can either know the Lord in love or know the Lord in judgment. How would you like to get to know him? You can know him through his blessings and benefits, giving thanks to him for all that he has done for us and resting in the grace that is found in Jesus. Or you can know him through suffering and judgment, when he breaks the idols in your life and makes you stand before him in judgment, giving an account for every word and every act you did while on the earth. God is not mocked. We will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Is our idolatry worth our lives? These people are going to die because of their idolatry. Can you imagine losing your soul for all eternity with all the rich blessings of being in God’s presence simply because you wanted to follow your passions and trust in idols that cannot help or satisfy? God wants you to know he is broken by our sinning and he keeps his word.

Share on Facebook
Scroll to Top