Then They Will Know

Judgment presents a strange dilemma. The concepts of judging and passing judgment are often confused. Choosing between right and wrong is a process of judging, but different than passing judgment on someone. When judgment is made in the latter sense, there is a consequence attached to the decision or choice made.

Judgments present another dilemma—bringing into question the authority or right for the judgment being made. What evidence is given? Who is entitled to make the decision? Who or what empowers them to do so? Even so, many people continue passing judgment in the court of public opinion. In the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, guilt was determined before the trial took place. More recently, in the case of a Penn State assistant football coach, where the investigation hasn't been completed, the man is condemned already.

Reading through the prophet Ezekiel, I was reminded how God's judgments are often misunderstood. Some people characterize the judgments of God (in the Bible) as barbaric and heartless, maybe even capricious. They're anything but that. Reading through Ezekiel Chapter 11–13, where God reveals the judgment to come upon Israel for their persistent rebellion to God, I was reminded of God's eternal nature—who He is and what He desires.

Throughout Ezekiel, as in other prophetic writings, the purpose of God's judgment is clearly seen—restoration—"Then you will know that I am the LORD" (Ezek 11:12 GWT). God wanted the people He had chosen to return to Him. He had made into a nation, but they had chosen lesser gods to follow. He wanted to set them free from what enslaved them—the very same thing He desires to do today for all people. This is made clear by the prophecy of Ezekiel 11:16-20, where God promises to gather them back, forgive them, and restore them.

Humanity, in general, sees judgment as punishment. Indeed, it has an element of punishment, but God's judgment isn't limited to that. God's plan for judgment, His purpose, is bringing restoration—the whole process being corrective. God has always sought restoration, as David (who had his own serious problems) declares in Psalm 23 (Pss 23:3), "He restores my soul." This has always been God's nature and intent. When Adam and Eve thought God was holding out on them, one of their consequences was banishment from the Garden of Eden. Generally, we see this as punishment for disobedience because we are short-sighted. Yet, this is where God's plan of redemption is revealed (Gen 3:15).

In Ezekiel's messages, I keep seeing the phrase, "Then they will know...," always linked with the one name God gave Himself—the LORD, Jehovah—Yahweh, the personal covenant name of God. This shows His personal concern and commitment. Looking at all this reveals two different perspectives—man's and God's—one short-sighted, the other more complete. 

When things take place in our lives that don't make sense, and may seem unfair or unjust, how do we view God? Are we looking at Him from our own short-sighted view? Or do we see Him for who He is—a God who redeems and restores? Even if you start out short-sighted, that view can be changed. It's a choice we can make by faith—as we trust in Him for who He is, not for how He might seem at the moment.

Here is one of my favorite worship songs that may help with that change of perspective—

Here is another favorite worship song reminding us of God's gracious nature—