From Ezekiel 38-39
Israel is finally restored, dwelling securely—so secure they have no walls or gates, in fact. They’re enjoying God’s blessing, provision and protection.
But then, they hear rumors than an army is coming, Gog. A huge invading army, and they are sitting ducks, all the richness of their blessings unprotected.
Worse still, they heard God himself sent the army. What?!?!
It’s not like last time. Last time, they’d been rebellious and God told them they would be sent off to captivity if they didn’t change their ways. They didn’t. Sinful and rebellious they knew they deserved their punishment.
But this time wasn’t like that. They had just been restored. God had brought them back, blessed them, set them up in their own land. And they had been obedient, this time. They were eing very careful to obey and follow God.
Why would God send Gog to invade?
I wonder how Israel felt. Had they learned to trust God enough that they didn’t fear the coming enemy army? Did they feel vulnerable? Confused? Angry? Betrayed? Scared? Were they even aware? Were they in denial?
Here’s the thing, because God is sovereign we know Gog’s rising against Israel was permitted by God. But the Bible is clearer than that. He didn’t just permit it; He orchestrated it. He ordered it.
Isaiah 38:10, “On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise and evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely…to seize sol and carry off plunder.’” And in verse 16, we see it quite clearly, God says, “I will bring you against my land that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
God plans so this people will see and know who He is.
It doesn’t sound like a good way for God to impress people. He gets his people all set up and secure and then stirs an enemy up to invade.
It’s shocking. It’s like a parent sending of a kid to college, getting them all set in the dorm, all safe and happy and provided for… and then setting up a thug to go and rob their kid and his dorm room.
How is that going to show off God’s glory?
If we stop reading here it makes no sense. That’s what we do though.
IT’s funny how we do it when you think about it. We know better when it’s a movie or a book. We don’t quit half way because the plot looks like it’s getting complicated and conflict is escalating. E don’t quit mid-story on an author or producer, we stick it out and see how it will end. In fact, we seem to gravitate toward impossible conflicts because we love great endings, and the greater the difficulty to overcome, the sweeter the resolution, the happier the ending. So we give the author a chance to finish the story.
We get this with human authors, but strangely, we totally miss this when it comes to God – the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Our faith is a story that God is writing, and we quit mid-story. All. The. Time. Because we don’t like how He’s writing it, when really He’s simply writing a far greater block-buster than we had in mind.
We wanted a romantic comedy or maybe even a sitcom. He’s writing an EPIC, a masterpiece, a classic which will inspire future generations
I think of Frodo saying to Sam, “Perhaps the best stories are ones we wouldn’t choose to live.” (Ok, that may be a paraphrase?) It’s true. We love the epic stories, but we probably wouldn’t love them if we were in them, not during the hard parts anyway. But on the other side of that story, victory would be sweet.
Anyway, I should get back to Israel. As I was saying, enemy army on its way and God is literally behind it.
We’ve all been there in some way or another. Everything’s finally right, walk with God is good, relationships are thriving, business is booming—then suddenly, cancer, or the stock market crashes, or there’s a merger and your job is mostly likely about to be axed, or your employees are cheating you, natural disaster is heading right toward your home… you name it. And you know God is somehow behind it all—permitting it, if not actually ordering it.
This is where you have to decide what you really believe about God.
How much do you trust His authorship? His love? His goodness? Do you get angry? Feel betrayed? Do you quit Him? Give up on the story He is writing? Or do you keep reading, curious to see how He is going to “work all things [even this thing] for good”? Do you wait patiently on the Lord to see how the story ends?
This is where you learn what you actually believe about God. Your response in this time will show you what you truly believe about the character, nature and power of God. So I’m going to pause the story here, just as God, so often, does. I’m going to encourage you to think about this, carefully. Examine your life. Pray and ask God to reveal to you where your heart is on this and how you’ve acted in the past.
Check back tomorrow to see what happens next!