I've been toughing my way through Ezekiel recently. It's a tough book about tough times. Ezekiel knew some very hard times. He lived through the siege and sacking of Jerusalem and was carried off into exile by the Babylonians. (Reading through Jeremiah gives a clear picture of just how horrible it would have been to have lived through that time.) And Ezekiel - God's messenger to His people in exile - was deeply, deeply aware and heavily burdened by the blackness of sin.
So many of the pictures and messages recorded in the book of Ezekiel are largely of pain and hardship. There is clear judgment for God's people who have persisted in their sin and turned their backs on the One who loves them. There is clear judgment for the nations who have scorned God's people. And then there are the natural consequences of bad decisions. It is hard reading.
And yet, the words "Sovereign Lord" are mentioned over 200 times throughout the book. This is what the Sovereign Lord says. This is what the Sovereign Lord will do. This is what the Sovereign Lord is doing. In all the hardship, confusion and grief, God is present and with a purpose. Natural consequence is fair and God's judgment is righteous. And that righteousness and purpose is borne out in a second phrase that appears time and time again - "Then they will know that I am the Lord." And so the book of Ezekiel, in all that is tough, is filled with hope because for all who cry out and turn to the God who loves them, there is the promise of restoration and peace for all eternity.
Ezekiel presents a snapshot of a particular time in the history of God's people. It's also a timeless message for all people - God's very good creation - through all of history because even though the details are different, the reality is much the same. But back to the book and how to get into it...there is hope through God's sovereignty, love and righteousness to be found on every page of Ezekiel - and looking for that will assist in the very worthwhile work of persevering through the pages of this book for deep insight into times past, present and future.