And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.
Throughout Ezekiel, the phrase (or a turn of it) “they shall know that I am the Lord” makes 60+ appearances. This phrase is used often throughout the whole OT, frequently in Exodus, but in no other book do we find it so oft repeated. It’s striking how often this phrase occurs as you read through Ezekiel, and what’s so fascinating about its repetition is that it mostly occurs right in the thick of “doom and gloom” passages of God’s judgement on Israel, Tyre, Egypt, Magog, etc.
Essentially, we read over & over in Ezekiel, that when we see the tumult, the chaos, the shaking of earthly kingdoms, we are to understand that there is a purpose to all these happenings. They aren’t accidental, erratic, or meaningless; rather they are deliberate, poignant, profound and entirely purposeful. These shakings all occur so that the peoples of the earth “shall know that I am the Lord God.”
In the early chapters of Ezekiel we see God gloriously revealed. Throughout the middle chapters we are told that all these judgements are so we would know He is the Lord. But interestingly enough, though this phrase is used in almost every chapter from 6-39, it isn’t used at all in describing the eternal state of things in the final 8 chapters. The whole set-up of Ezekiel reflects the whole theme of history: God revealing Himself, the earth’s tumults all governed by God’s intention to be known, and finally concluding with God known and adored for all eternity by His covenant people. After all, Ezekiel ends with “the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The Lord is there’”(Ezk. 48:35b).
Humans have a voracious appetite to know, and this is something which God has planted in each of us that we, as Paul said at Mars Hill, “might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us (Act 17:27).” As Christians we must, however, remember that the thirst for knowledge is not the same as merely being inquisitive.
The search for knowledge has a direct object which is being sought after; being inquisitive all too often deteriorates into a hopeless spiral of aimlessly seeking to be a seeker, rather than a finder. In other words, seeking to be seeking is not the same as seeking to find. To paraphrase Lewis, as I am wont to do, as thirst was made to be satisfied with water, so too questions were made to be satisfied by answers; and the soul’s deepest question–what is the chief end of man–has an Answer.
Thus our aim is summed up in what I like to call the “Mount Everest of Paul’s writings”, found in Philippians 3:7-14, which we could abridge in these two phrases from that passage: “that I may win Christ & that I may know Him!” This is the true purpose behind all of history’s convulsions, the aim of all seeking, the goal of all knowing, the great end for which we were made: to know God even as we are known by Him. Would that we would bend all of our studying, working, playing, eating, drinking, and living to the pursuit of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. So let us “glory in understanding and knowing Christ” (Jer. 9:24).