Ezekiel 20:44 (ESV) … “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
When some of the elders of Israel in exile came to inquire of the Lord, the Lord refused to answer them. Instead the Lord told Ezekiel to review the nation’s rebellious history. From the very beginning, when the Lord confronted His people in Egypt, they resisted His will by clinging to their idols.
After He had delivered them from bondage and given them the law, they rebelled in the wilderness. Though the Lord prohibited that generation from entering the promised land, He preserved their children and warned them not to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. However, the children, while still in the wilderness, sinned against the Lord. When He finally established them in the land, they worshiped Canaanite gods at pagan sanctuaries.
Ezekiel’s idolatrous contemporaries were no different. Consequently, the Lord would purify them through judgment and exile. Once He had removed the rebellious worshipers of idols, He would restore the nation to the land. The people then would repudiate their former behavior and worship the Lord in purity.
To provide God’s true people with hope for the future, Ezekiel has prophesied about a second exodus, this time from Babylon. Having surveyed the history of Israel from the time of their exile in Egypt to his own day—a period of some 1,200 years—Ezekiel summarizes it in this way: it is a history of rebellion against God’s covenant. But a light shines in the distance. It is the anticipation of the new covenant era, when Jews and Gentiles will turn to the Lord and serve him. God’s church will not be extinguished. His people are reassured of ultimate triumph. Exile has been necessary, but the future, as Adoniram Judson put it, is as bright as the promises of God.
God is still the same Lord over us today. He corrects us where we need correction. The Lord encourages us where we need encouragement. The Lord’s hand is steady in both his promises and providence out working in our lives.