Destroying the Destroyer
Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, The most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords Against the beauty of your wisdom And defile your splendor. (Ezekiel 28:7)
For this, behold, I bring upon you strange pestilent ones from the nations. And they shall empty out their swords against you; against the beauty of your higher knowledge; and they shall spread your beauty unto destruction. (APB+)
When I read this verse this time with the context of the great struggle between the forces of evil and right more clearly settled in my mind, I suddenly saw enormous implications here that I had never noticed before. But then, that has been happening more frequently.
This chapter along with the previous one and linked to Isaiah 14 along with Revelation 18 all are intended to provide insights into what is and has been going on behind the scenes. This is no any sort of fiction in the slightest but rather is a glimpse into the titanic struggles of the war that has been griping the entire universe for unknown millenniums. Yet it is not enough to just be aware that a war has been taking place; it is vital that we understand for ourselves its real nature and the core issues around which this battle revolves, for the whole war is over subtle falsehoods versus truth, but often truth that is so foreign to most of our thinking that we too often find it unconvincing.
We are born into a miasma of deception. We are taught confused ideas about reality from the very start which makes it amazing that we can ever even begin to come to know the real truth. But the great news is that where sin abounds, there grace much more abounds (Romans 5:20). It is never through our own efforts that we come to know truth but only as we respond to the drawing and enlightening of the Spirit whose very essence is truth. Yet this truth is far beyond what any of us yet imagine at this point so we would do well to not become smug about thinking we can relax or become defensive about any light we have already seen. None of us 'has the truth.' But hopefully the truth is starting to find us.
In these passages from Isaiah and Ezekiel are revealed the nature and some of the history of the main protagonist of God and where sin originated in the first place. And although these passages are cryptic they contain important insights as to how it will finally come to an end. But what we believe about how God will bring an end to sin is one of the most vital parts of our beliefs, and this has been hijacked by the great accuser to actually become one of the most diabolical strongholds of lies about God.
The more I learn and discern of the real issues of this great struggle between Christ and Satan, the more clearly can be seen that the center of this struggle is over the real truth about what God is really like and how He treats others. Sadly most Christians have been led to assume that salvation and sin is primarily about us, about adjusting our legal standing with God or being good enough so we can 'get saved' and how God intends to severely punish all who refuse His offer of grace.
Yet these views of God and what many call 'truth' all play directly into schemes of the enemy to keep us in gross darkness of the truth about God. Ironically much of what we call the gospel message are actually rehearsals of lies about God dressed up in religious garb and promoted as coming direct from heaven. It came from heaven alright, but not from the true God of heaven. They come from the father of lies who started out his great rebellion in his strategic position right over the very throne of God.
The verse quoted above has some fascinating insights as to the method that God has chosen to bring an end to this dispute over who He is and what He is like. Rather than degrade Himself into employing tactics that He has long been accused of using by both friends and enemies alike, God is relying on a jury of His – get this – not His peers but some of the weakest, most ignorant and debased creatures in existence. We humans, though originally created to reflect the image of God more clearly than any other beings, have now been debased to be nearly opposite of our original design. Yet God proposes to base the security of His eternal kingdom entirely on the testimony of these very people – us.
God is on trial. For me there is simply no questioning this conclusion. The real issue is, how is God planning to win this trial? And answers emerge from all over the Bible such as where He repeatedly talks about relying on us as His witnesses. Since the core problem in this war is over opinions about God's character and government, the only way this war will culminate is for every last accusation to be exposed for the fraud that it is. And the only way this will ever take place is for the truth to become clear without the use of any coercion, force, deception or any other tactic used by the enemy of truth.
God has graciously revealed to all who are willing to know, the final means by which every last charge against Him will be dropped and His good reputation will finally be vindicated. God is going to win His case, but in doing so He will never compromise in the slightest His character of perfect love or violate the principles of total freedom. He will not stoop to engage in any of the methods of His enemies to gain some supposed advantage as we so often assume, for to do so would only give substance to the charges against Him that have wrought so much havoc already. Rather God is going to win through love and love alone, for that is the essence of who He is and it can never change.
So what does this verse tell us about the stunning way in which God intends to win this battle over His reputation against the myriads of lies from His enemies? He is going to win using the same means He has always used – reliance on the testimony of those who respond positively to revelations of His love and who have allowed Him full access to their hearts to salvage them and restore them back into reflecting His true image in their own lives. These compose both the jury and the witnesses needed to prove that God is who He says He is.
And where do I see this in this verse from Ezekiel? This is quite interesting, for when I went to look up the meanings of the original words it became far more evident that indeed this is the intended meaning of this passage.
I will bring strangers upon you, The most ruthless of the nations. I used to assume that in the final day of Satan's demise, the day commonly referred to as 'the day of Judgment,' that somehow God would have other sinners finally see Satan so exposed that they would turn on him in fury to violently attack him. Now I am not suggesting that this in fact may not take place, however now I am not too sure that this is necessarily what this verse is speaking of primarily. After looking at the original language it seems far more likely that those strangers this verse is referring to here are rather people who have become strangers, now hostile to the ways of Satan in that they no longer share any sympathy with any of his lies about God. In the second version quoted above a little more of the meanings of the original words begins to appear which helps to begin seeing this understanding.
How could God's people be viewed as ruthless? Well, when they no longer share any sympathy with sin, with lies about God or each other, they will be completely devoid of any willingness to participate in promoting or even allowing the slightest lie to continue. They will be ruthless in their determination to stand unequivocally on the side of the real truth about God and what He is really like.
...they shall empty out their swords against you; against the beauty of your higher knowledge... To understand this better, when one comes to see the real meaning in Scripture in the symbol of the sword, this analogy takes on enormous significance. In prophecy the sword almost always has to do with judgment. And while that might seem clear to many, it is still easy to be confused by wrong ideas about what judgment is all about and still remain in the trap of confusion created by Satan at that juncture.
What is becoming much more clear to me over recent years is that God's method and purpose in judgment is not about punishing or rewarding – that all proceeds out of the 'other' tree in the garden that does not represent God's government, but rather about revealing the real truth, exposing what has long been hidden.
Consider one of the clearest passages on this issue in the words spoken over Jesus when He was a baby. The prophet Simeon spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explaining the real purpose of Jesus coming to this earth – to bring judgment. And that judgment, as Jesus later articulated, happens when light exposes all that is hidden in darkness (see John 3:19-21)
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:34-35)
This prophecy clearly spells out the purpose of Jesus' life – to expose the secret motives and thoughts that were hidden otherwise. And what I am now seeing in this verse from Ezekiel is the very same method that God intends to use in the day of Judgment to finally eradicate sin forever. He is going to rely on the testimony of those who have become so transformed by the indwelling presence of this same Jesus that, as Ezekiel's prophecy puts it, they will empty their swords against the subtle apparent beauty of Satan's wisdom that has deceived the nations for so long until that 'beauty' is destroyed.
God will never resort to force, intimidation, threats or arbitrary methods to win His case. To do any of these things would only accomplish the very opposite, for these are all part of the web of lies that He is already accused of doing. Rather, God is in the business of winning over as many truthful witnesses as possible who can reveal the true nature of His way of governing. God is relying on credible witnesses who will testify that God can indeed do what He says He can do and transform rebellious, deceived sinners into loving, humble, joyful reflections of His own true nature. (see John 13:35)
I want to be one of those mentioned in this verse who will empty their swords to help expose and defeat the lies of God's enemy. I want to allow God to so transform me that I will become free of all the fears and anger and dysfunction that Satan's lies have caused in me and that discredit the real truth about God. I am choosing to take God's side in this case and ask Him to continue molding me into such a credible witness that no longer will I bear false witness against Him before others.
I invite you to also take Him up on His offer of salvation to be restored to wholeness to reflect Him.