Reading through the Bible this year has me in Ezekiel. As the Lord expresses His wrath against the disobedience of His people, He often repeats that the judgments coming upon them will convince them, and the world around them, that He is the Lord.
As I read this, I feel somewhat dismayed. I pray for loved ones and want them to realize who God is and that He is Lord. I don’t want that to happen because He is angry against their sin and going to send disaster into their lives like He did with Israel. However, today’s devotional reading jumps ahead of where I have been reading and offers this encouragement.
Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 36:33–38)
I know this part of the Bible is about Israel, not about my family and friends, yet it also describes the character and ways of God. He is angry against sin, but He also knows that without His cleansing, we are helpless to change our ways. He offers salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, a salvation that includes forgiveness, cleansing and a changed life. This applies to every person and in every timeframe. That in itself is wonderful!
Yet there is more. These verses describe what He will do for His ancient people — once their lives are cleansed. He will add to them. All the wasted places will be restored and useful. That which was ruined because of sin will be built up and restored. He will answer prayer. Most of all, both His people and the nations around them will know that He is the Lord. Since God never changes, He can do the same in answer to my prayers.
Lord, this is my prayer for family and friends; that they know You are the Lord. I trust You to reveal Yourself to them in the best possible way. I know that revelation could come through trouble and judgment for their sin, but I also know that it could be done through Your sovereign work of salvation, to cleanse them from sin and open their eyes to the reality of You. Because You have saved and cleansed me, I am depending on You for this request, that You would increase the numbers of those who believe in You, and that because of what You have done, they and the people around them will know that You are the Lord.