THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Author = BRAINS
STUDY ON THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
T R E A S U R E... S E E K E R S ... I N ... T H E ... O L D ... T E S T A M E N T
'Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path......Where your treasure is there is your heart also'
Ezekiel was the son of Buzi, a Zadokite priest. His calling was one of priest and prophet.
He was exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597BC, was married, and lived in his own house.
Ezekiel means “God strengthens”, but he is referred to by God as the “son of man” 93 times in
the book! This is to both emphasise his humanity, and also show that he is representative of humanity. No other prophet was known by this title, but as you will know, Jesus was later to use this title for Himself.
He received his call in July 593BC when he was 30 years old, and was “active” for 22 years; his ministry took place before, during and after the destruction of Jerusalem.
As with Jeremiah, God instructs Ezekiel not to be afraid, and promises that He will be with him:
(3:9) “I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be terrified by
them, though they are a rebellious house.”
“The word of the Lord came to me” is used by Ezekiel 49 times during the book. God’s greatest
communications can only be made by His servants whose hearts have been broken.
The instrument in God’s hands must personally be ready to share in the sufferings of others;
just as Jesus body was broken for us, and He shared in our sufferings.
Unlike Jeremiah, Ezekiel was often consulted by the leaders in exile, but his advice was not always followed.
Chapters 1-3 deal with the redeployment and calling of Ezekiel
Chapters 4-24 deal with the prediction that Jerusalem would fall, and retribution.
Chapters 25-32 are a series of judgements against the seven nations of Ammon, Moab, Edom
, Phillistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt;
Chapters 33-39 are a comforting word of hope for God’s people that they would experience
revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfected kingdom of God in the world!!!
God’s faithfulness to His covenant and His desire to save were so great that He would revive His
people once more, shepherd them with compassion, cleanse them of all their defilement, restore them as a perfect expression of His kingdom in the promised land under the hand of
David, overwhelm all the forces and powers coming against them, display His glory among the
nations, and return the glory of His presence to the holy city.
Chapters 40-48 deal with the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.
The book contains four visions and twelve symbolic acts; five messages are in the form of
Symbolism in Ezekiel
Various books have been written in an attempt to unravel the meaning behind the visions and symbolism, and they have inspired many a debate!!
Even my agnostic husband, when I told him about tonight’s study, told me not to forget to mention how God perfectly describes UFO’s, the Moon Landing, and Helicopters!!!!
I have to say, however, that I do not agree with his interpretation!!!
More than any other prophet, Ezekiel was directed to involve himself personally in acting out
prophetic symbolism. Nowadays he would probably be looked upon as a “performance artist”,
or the Damien Hirst of the religious world! Compared to most people, Ezekiel acted weird!!
Acts of symbolic witness which the Lord instructed Ezekiel to carry out included:
- shaving off his hair and his beard and dividing it into three lots; shaving it was humiliation enough, but the three lots were to symbolise the people of Judah, one third of whom would be
killed in the destruction of Jerusalem, one third to perish by famine and pestilence and the remainder scattered among the Gentiles.
- lying on his left side for 390 days, symbolizing the amount of years the people of Israel had been in rebellion from the time of Solomon’s unfaithfulness to the fall of Jerusalem;
- lying on his right side for 40 days, symbolizing the 40 years of sin of the house of Judah;
- during this time he was bound with rope by the Lord to prevent him from turning; and was only allowed to eat bread made from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet & spelt, symbolising
the scant provision of the besieged city of Jerusalem
- worse still, the bread had to be cooked using cow manure as fuel (a method still used today);
however, God had originally instructed Ezekiel to use human excrement!!! He relented when
Ezekiel begged Him not to allow him to defile himself.
- Breaking a hole in the wall of his house, through which he was instructed to leave with a
knapsack over his shoulder and to keep his eyes fixed to the ground, to symbolise how the
people of Judah would be forced to leave.
- He was forbidden to openly mourn the death of his wife, “the delight of his eyes” as a symbol to the people that they were not to openly mourn the death of Jerusalem, “the delight of their eyes”.
Visions in Ezekiel
I will only mention two of Ezekiel’s visions tonight:
The Vision of the Four Creatures
(1:4) I looked, and saw a windstorm coming out of the north – an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal, (5) and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, (6) but each of them had four faces and four wings. (7) Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. (8) Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, (9) and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. (10) Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right hand side each had the face of a lion, And on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.”
An interpretation of this vision is as follows:
Four stands for completeness (four directions, four quarters of earth).
The living creatures are Cherubim, throne attendants representing “man” – God’s ordained ruler of creation; “lion” – strongest of the wild beasts; “ox” – most powerful of the domesticated animals; “eagle” – the mightiest of the birds.
These four creatures also appear in Revelation 4:7, and are often seen in the paintings and sculptures of the Middle Ages, where they are used to represent the four gospels.
The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
(37:1) The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. (2) He lead me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. (3) He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, You alone know.” (4) Then He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! (5) This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. (6) I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to lie. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
(10) So I prophesied as He commanded me…………they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army. (11) Then He said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ (12) Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O My people, I am going to open up your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. (13) Then you, My people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. (14) I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.
This vision is fairly self-explanatory!! The main lesson is the restoration of God’s people. He takes them from among the heathen and gathers them from out of all countries to which they have been scattered.
It is also a picture of the power of God to raise those who have not only been scattered, but are also dead in their sins and need to be born again. This “new birth” was later to be explained to Nicodemus in the book of John.
God promises new birth to Israel. The people are to be brought forth, filled with God’s Spirit, and brought back to their land.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there is so much to the book of Ezekiel, and unfortunately I have only been able to talk about the “bare bones” tonight – groan, bad joke!!
I want to end by talking about the “glory of God”.
The “glory of God” is mentioned twelve times in the first eleven chapters, then does not occur again until Chapter 43.
The “glory of God” was grieved away from the Temple by the idolatry of the people.
God says: (5:11) “Because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I Myself will withdraw My favour; I will not look on you with pity or spare you.”
As Christians, we too can quench the “glory of God” within us – the Holy Spirit. We can grieve and resist Him until He is quenched and our heart becomes like a ruined temple bereft of its glory.
We grieve the Spirit when we do not allow ourselves time to read the Word, pray or worship. We limit the Spirit when we refuse to be clean vessels through which He can work. We resist Him by allowing idols to be in our hearts.
Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Does His presence radiate in our lives, or have we allowed it to become quenched?
We need to daily examine our lives before God and allow Him to remove anything which blocks His work in and through us. We need a daily in-filling of the Holy Spirit to completely fulfil His purposes for us.
Are we willing to do that??