How can we know that God is Lord? Do we know Him as Lord through the creation around us? Through His revelation to us in His Word? Through the earthly blessings we receive from Him? These are all legitimate answers to the original question. However, while they are probably the most obvious, they are not the only options. One answer that particularly stands out to me is one that may at first seem paradoxical, especially in our current church world: we know God as Lord through His seemingly unfair actions in the world around and through His chastising of us.
For some time now, I have been working through the book of Ezekiel in my personal devotions. One thing that I have come to notice is the frequent use of the phrase, “and ye shall know that I am the Lord,” or similar such phrases. This line often concludes a verse in which God proclaims that he will send judgement on the people of the earth. One example is Ezekiel 12:20: “And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Another example is Ezekiel 30:26 “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” And there are many others.
This is an idea that is very unpopular in the nominal Christian world. Saying that God causes the hardships in our lives and the seemingly evil events in the world around is seen as unfairly doing harm to the reputation of God as good and loving. Many Christians refuse to acknowledge that God is the cause of our trials or of natural disasters, seeking instead to attribute these things to the devil. I recently read a book entitled Against Calvinism in which this was a frequent point of discussion for the author. His main point was that making God the cause of what seemingly to us is evil detracts from His loving nature – after all, God is love, is He not (I John 4:8)?
What this author and others like Him forget is that our human understanding is very limited – even the least of God’s wisdom far transcends that of man (I Cor. 1:25). We are often unable to understand why He causes certain events to take place. However, this does not make Him automatically unloving and unjust; on the contrary, it makes Him exactly what He claims Himself to be in I John 4:8. Proof of this can be seen in James 1:2-4. In verse 2, the word “temptations” can be understood as trials. The idea is that God sends seemingly evil events (whether a natural disaster or a simple trial in one person’s life) to strengthen the faith of His people through patience. By these trials we are taught to rely on Him and trust more fully in Him. In so doing, God manifests His love for us. Meanwhile, for the wicked, God sends such events in just judgement for sinfulness. Many would object to this, but our response ought to be God’s response throughout Ezekiel: “And they shall know that I am the Lord.”
Throughout this week, then, think of how you know God to be Lord. See Him as Lord in His Word, certainly, as well as in creation and in your blessings from Him. But, fellow Christian, forget not to see Him as Lord in the difficult events as well. Remember that your trials work patience and that patience leads to us being made “perfect and entire” (James 1:4), and thus know that God is Lord.