I took a solemn oath that day that I would bring them out of Egypt to a land I had discovered and explored for them—a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the best of all lands anywhere.
I have been reading through the book of Ezekiel recently, and yesterday, I stumbled upon this verse. A bit of personal backstory on me, I graduate at the end of this upcoming fall semester. Things have been a little chaotic for me mentally and emotionally as I’ve tried to sort out exactly what’s going to happen after these next few months are up.
So, when my eyes crossed this verse, it didn’t really stand out at first, but a particular word drew my eyes back across the page – explore. It provided for me this image almost like this person who had scoured and scouted the countryside, examining everything down to the minutest detail. As I looked back over the words, the Lord called the land the best anywhere. That had to mean that he had not only investigated what would be Israel’s Promised Land, He had studied globe through a microscope. His inspection led Him to claim that this would be Israel’s home.
This got me to thinking about how much God loves His children. He knows all the options that are out there; He has explored them. He not only knows a little bit about the possibilities on the horizon. No. He has studied them, examined them. He knows them, and better yet, He knows which is the best path that leads to the best place for his children to end up. This simple verse can serve as great encouragement for those who need peace about the future (or the present or anything). It’s a simple, cliché saying that God is in control. People don’t like using it (I’m one of them), but we are a people who love believing and trusting that fact.
Of course, that verse is not the whole story. In chapter 20 of Ezekiel, we find that God is more or less giving His people a history lesson as He reminds them of everything that went well in order to highlight how and when everything went wrong. By freeing the people from Egypt and revealing to them the Promised Land, the Lord demonstrates His great love and affection for His people. The soon-to-be Israelites, however, do not return the favor.
The promise of Ezekiel 20:6 is surrounded by a guide. In verse six, the Lord demonstrates His loving kindness and care. In verse seven, we see that in return for Him calling us His, He wants us to call Him ours. The Lord wants to be our God. The people of Israel were obsessed with idols and images, making gods out of them. While we may consider the Israelites were foolish for forgetting the One who parted the Red Sea, we need to realize just how often te make gods out of little trite things.
I know that sometimes we can demonstrate our lack of foresight by thinking that because there are no shrines composed of altars and incense that we don’t have idols. In reality, the only thing that’s really changed about worshipping idols is the arena and possibly the methods. Idol worship is all about how we use what we have. The way that we handle our belongings reveals so much about our worship.
The Israelites of old would slaughter animals, pour out wine, and many times even murder their own children in the name of worshipping false gods. Now, all we do is pour money into meaningless endeavors, waste time and money, and neglect our children and those closest to us in order to make some kind of name in society.
So yes, we need a little work ourselves when it comes to making the Lord our God. We cannot rag on those who came before saying that they simply didn’t know how to trust and to follow. Remember that there is always a lesson to be learned in trusting God.