“For thus says the Lord God: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered, and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. And it shall never again be the reliance of the house of Israel, recalling their iniquity, when they turn to them for aid. Then they will know that I am the Lord God.”
Today we are summarizing chapters 25-32 of Ezekiel. We have focused many weeks on the judgement of God coming to His people, Israel. We have tracked the massive and costly struggle of Ezekiel to make the people of Israel to face up to the reality of the God they had abandoned. He wanted them to recognize the Lord’s anger and to discern that God was behind their circumstances - it wasn’t just the hand of Babylon - it was the hand behind the hand of Babylon. Ezekiel longed for them to know their God in His awesome power and justice.
This large portion of text speaks of the judgement that will come on the surrounding nations, primarily Egypt and Tyre. The arrogance of Egypt and Pharaoh and the economic power of Tyre will all be leveled by the God of all creation.
We see both the effects of human wickedness as well as the sovereign acts of God. There are some stunning realities found among this portion of text:
- God is over all nations, not just Israel.
- God rules over everything - even international affairs.
- Man’s power comes and goes, but God’s is forever.
- God uses the negative consequences of evil for His purposes.
- God is not absent in human history.
- God is on the throne and has no equal.
- The greatest powers on earth are still subject to Him.
If you could summarize this sermon in one sentence, it would be: The knowledge of God is the goal of God’s mission.
The Mission of God
One of the biggest themes of this portion of text is the mission of God. The frequency in which the phrase, “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” or “Then you will know that I am the Lord” occurs is staggering.
God’s long range purpose for restoring His people is that the nations must know the glory of God too, and understand that He alone is the true and living God. All of the calls of repentance were not merely for Israel’s good.
God’s redemptive work among His people was ultimately related to His missionary purpose among the nations. These two things cannot be separated. In fact, Israel only existed at all because of God’s ultimate purpose, declared to Abraham (Genesis 12), to bring blessing to all nations.
So if God is wanting to bless His people, why is He judging them? If He is wanting to bless the nations, why is He judging them? Behind this God of judgement stands a loving God with redemptive purposes. He wants to use them for His purposes and they keep refusing and continue to rebel. So He has driven them into exile and then draws them out. Good parents can relate - your love for your children and your desire to bless them is not incompatible with discipline and punishment. You do it for the ultimate purpose of blessing.
The knowledge of God is the goal of God’s mission.
The Mission of God’s People
Ezekiel has a great sense of God’s plan and purpose for Israel. He sees how they can be used to accomplish His purposes and make His name and reputation great among the nations. But God’s people were betraying God’s story - betraying God’s mission. Once again, Israel only existed at all because of God’s ultimate purpose, declared to Abraham (Genesis 12), to bring blessing to all nations.
God has always had a people. God has always had a witness. He has a people because He has a mission first. He didn’t first get a people and then try to decide to find something for them to do. He has a mission - to bless, to love, to redeem, to restore, to give life, to bring peace, to restore relationship with Him, and His desire is that all the nations would know and be blessed.
He saves us for good works that He has prepared for us beforehand (Ephesians 2:8-10). Before He saved you, your works - your tasks - were prepared. This is not how we often think about our salvation. God didn’t save us so he could join our story. He saved us to have us join His story and life.
We need to be asking how our life fits into what God is doing and His great purposes. The goal is not seeking to find out what God has for me and my life - my purpose statement. Rather we need to be asking how our life is fitting into what God is doing and His great purpose statement.
We asked it this way a few weeks ago, “Is God a part of your story or are you a part of His story?”. Historically, God’s people have sometimes been radically and sacrificially faithful to God’s mission of bringing blessing to all nations. At other times, there have been dark days of unfaithfulness to the mission of God.
The goal of God’s action is that He would be known and acknowledged among the nations for who He truly is. This must be the ultimate goal of our lives as well. Jesus echoes this in His prayer for His disciples and us (John 17:20-23).
Jesus charges that as we go, we make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
The knowledge of God is the goal of God’s mission.
Our Via Communities are our primary discipleship tool. This section is to help you as you discuss the sermon with others in your life. It is designed for communities to utilize but can be used to facilitate a conversation between spouses, good friends, co-workers, etc., as we live to be faithful to God’s mission in his world.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
The Gospel is powerful. The good news of Jesus changes us. This section is to record the ways you are noticing the good news of Jesus transforming your life. Jot notes to help you remember.
As we examined God’s Word, in what ways was His Word examining you?
Describe how Jesus is becoming more central in your life.
What does trusting in Jesus look like for you this week?