Ye Shall Know That I Am The Lord 

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 24 Sep 2010

“And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves” (Ezekiel 37:13).

Ezekiel was one of the three prophets who ministered to God’s people during the period of the Babylonian exile.

Daniel was taken to exile in Babylon when Nebuchednezzar first attacked Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiakim in 606 BC.[1] Daniel would write his prophecy in exile.

Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s son, eventually took over the throne. But he was a very wicked king and in 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem again. He took king Jehoiachin into exile together with the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel would minister amongst the exiles in Babylon.

Jeremiah, on the other hand, was the prophet who witnessed the destruction of the temple in 586 BC. He ministered in Judah amongst the remnant who were left behind.

So Ezekiel ministered before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. His messages to those who were carried into exile with him were that something worse would happen to Jerusalem unless the people repented wholeheartedly. The false prophets did not think so. They thought that the exile would be very short and the exiles would return to Jerusalem shortly. Many of the people would rather believe in the false prophets than Ezekiel.

Ezekiel wrote in an autobiographical manner,—describing his experiences and visions from a personal perspective. His book has three major sections. In the first 24 chapters, Ezekiel announces God’s judgement upon Jerusalem for her sin. God is sovereign and holy: He will not suffer His name to be trampled underfoot. But He is also just. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…” (Ezk 18:20). Those who repent of their sin shall live (v. 32).

From chapters 25-32, Ezekiel announces God’s judgement on the foreign nations whose history was intertwined with that of God’s people. Though Judah had sinned, she bore God’s name and therefore no one could harass her with impunity.

But now, in chapter 33:21, we read of how a man escaped from Jerusalem to tell Ezekiel that “the city is smitten.” From then on Ezekiel began to focus his preaching on promises of mercy and restoration for God’s people.

This book is therefore filled with promises, and it is difficult to choose one that is representative of the whole book. But as part of our series on the great and precious promises of God, let’s consider Ezekiel 37:13—

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.

What are the promises in this verse? Well, there are two: one primary and the other secondary. Let’s look at both of them briefly.

Consider first, the secondary promise.


1. The Secondary Promise

The secondary promise in our text is expressed in the words: “when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.” We say that this is the secondary promise because it is through the fulfilment of this promise that the primary promise will be accomplished. The primary promise is worded: “ye shall know that I am the LORD.

But now, what does the LORD mean in the secondary promise? Well, in the context, Ezekiel is describing the vision of the valley of dry bones. Now, some preachers and commentators suggest that this will literally happen—that the Jews would be raised from the dead and brought back to the land of Israel to rule the world for 1000 years. Others do not think that it is about the resurrection of the Jews, but about the general resurrection.

But there is really no reason to believe that Ezekiel is seeing something that will happen literally. Indeed, by the time that the general resurrection occurs, the bones of many of the saints who died would have disintegrated and dispersed. There would be no white bones.

I am not denying that there will be a general resurrection, of course. I am saying, rather, that Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones is not so much about the general resurrection as it is about the restoration of God’s people.

Israel, the church under-age, suffered the consequences of their sin. They had become like dry bones in the valley, unable to worship and serve the LORD as they were redeemed for. But the Lord promised to restore them to the Promised Land.

So too, God’s people today are suffering the consequences of sin. But the Lord will revive and restore. Two of the most important acts of revival and restoration are spoken of in the scripture as resurrections. The first is regeneration, which is spoken of by the apostle John as the first resurrection; or the spiritual resurrection. The second, is the bodily resurrection at the last day.

Now, all these are included in the promise of our text. The fact is: God’s people will suffer in this life because of sin, both original and actual. But God will restore them. He will restore them by His providential acts, such as when he restored the Jews during the reign of King Cyrus. He will also restore them spiritually through the gift of regeneration, which is described as a sprinkling of clean water (cf. Baptism of the Holy Spirit) and a replacing of the heart of stone with a heart of flesh, etc (Ezk 36:25). And not just regeneration, but by justification by grace through faith in the Messiah, conversion, sanctification and eventually glorification. Some of these, He acts instantly, while others are more gradual.

But whatever the case may be, one thing is clear. It is God’s promise that He will restore His people. He will not leave his people in misery. He will restore and revive by His power such that what are seemingly dry bones can come to life!

This is the secondary promise mentioned in our text. But let’s consider now the primary promise.


2. The Primary Promise

The LORD says through Ezekiel: “ye shall know that I am the LORD.” Now, at first look, this does not seem to be a very significant promise. But do you realise that this promise is actually repeated over and over again in the book of Ezekiel? If you have an electronic Bible, search for the phrase, “shall know that I am the LORD” and you will find 57 occurrences of it in the whole Bible. Five instances are found in the book of Exodus, once it is found in 1 Kings. Where are the rest? They are in the book of Ezekiel. The phrase occurs 51 times in Ezekiel, and out of these, 22 times it is worded as “ye shall know that I am the LORD.”

It is a promise to His people. It is a promise to us.

What does this promise mean? No doubt, what the LORD is saying is that we do not know him as we should. Surely, we know that He is the LORD, but the fact is that we do not know Him as much as we should. And it must be extremely important for us and greatly desirous to the LORD that we should know Him as He would have us know. Otherwise, He would certainly not have repeated the promise so many times!

Ezekiel reminds us that many things that the LORD will do for his people are for the purpose of fulfilling this promise that we shall know that He is the LORD.

What is the purpose of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity? It is so that God’s people might know that God is the LORD (Ezk 6:7; 7:4, 9; 11:10, 12; 12:20; 15:7; etc).

Why would God punish the false prophets? So that God’s people might know that He is the LORD (Ezk 13:9)!

Why would God punish the idolaters in Jerusalem? So that God’s people might know that He is the LORD (Ezk 14:8)!

Why would God restore Israel back to the Land? So that God’s people might know that He is the LORD (Ezk 36:11)!

And now in our text: why would the LORD revive and restore His people? So that God’s people might know that He is the LORD!

Can you see how important this promise is to the LORD? I wonder if we really appreciate it as much as we should.

I wonder if we have taken for granted that we know the Lord Jesus that He is the LORD; and therefore there is nothing more to know. But beloved brethren, youth and children, this does not seem to be the attitude of the prophets and apostles.

The LORD, speaking through Ezekiel, would have us know that he would revive and restore his people that they might know Him as they should.

And the apostle Paul testifies that one day “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). I believe by the word rendered ‘Lord’ (kurios), Paul is referring to Jehovah. Remember that the Septuagint which was used by the apostles would translate Jehovah as kurios. So Paul is saying that one day “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is JEHOVAH, to the glory of God the Father.”

This is the promise of our text. Remember that when God speaks directly to His people, we may take it as the Son speaking unless the context requires us to think otherwise, for Christ is the Word of God. Christ is the Prophet or spokesman of God-Triune.

Beloved brethren and children, do you know Christ as Jehovah—the I AM? Do you know His sovereignty and power in your life?

Turn with me to the testimony of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:7—

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil 3:7-11).

It is quite clear, isn’t it, that the apostle Paul appreciates the promise of the LORD in our text. He desires to know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. He desires to know him more than he had ever known him hitherto.

Brethren and children, do you desire to know the LORD Jesus more than you do today? The Lord has promised that one day, we shall all know him as He knows us. But shall we not pray? Shall we not pray for a greater measure of the Spirit? Shall we not pray that the LORD will renew our mind and revive our spirit so that know him in faith and love in a way that give confidence, joy, peace, contentment, fulfilment, in a way that nothing else in the world can.


Conclusion

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.

One day our graves will be opened, and we shall know the Lord perfectly. But let us not leave to that day to know the LORD. Unless we know Him today, we shall not know Him in the day of resurrection. And the Lord has promised to restore and revive us even in this life that we may know that He is LORD. Shall we not, as it were, claim the promise through prayer? Amen. Ω



[1] Jehioakim was put on the throne by Pharaoh Necho who defeated King Josiah, when he came out against him, when he was on the way to Carchemish to fight against Nebuchednezzar. On his return trip he Jehoahaz, son of Josiah to Egypt. But since Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharoah Necho, when he came down to conquer Egypt, he carried Jehoikim into exile.