Key verse – Ezekiel 2:8, “You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you”
Meditation verse – 2 Peter 1:3, 4, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”
The Old Testament in general and the prophets in particular presuppose and teach God’s sovereignty over all creation, including people, nations and over the course of history. Nowhere in the Bible are God’s plans and control expressed more clearly and pervasively than in the book of Ezekiel. From the first chapter, which graphically describes the overwhelming invasion of the divine presence into Ezekiel’s world, to the last phrase of Ezekiel’s vision (“The LORD is there”) the book sounds and echoes God’s sovereignty. This sovereign God resolved that He would be known and acknowledged. No less than 65 occurrences of the clause (or variations) “Then they will know that I am the LORD” testify to that divine desire and intention.
(1) Chapters 1 – 24 teach that God will be revealed in the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple;
(2) Chapters 25 – 32 teach that the nations likewise will know God through his judgments; and
(3) Chapters 33 – 48 promise that God will be known through the restoration and spiritual renewal of Israel.
My friend, God in His sovereignty is free to judge, and He is also equally free to be gracious. His stern judgments on Israel ultimately reflect his grace. He allows the total dismemberment of Israel’s political and religious life so that her renewed life and His presence with her will be clearly seen as a gift from the Lord of the universe. Furthermore, as God’s spokesman, Ezekiel’s “son of man” status testifies to the sovereign God, he was commissioned to serve.
On a cold and dreary New York City night in 1935, then Mayor LaGuardia took over the bench at a night court. Among the cases that night was a petty larceny charge against an elderly woman. She admitted stealing a loaf of bread. “I did it for my sick daughter. Her husband had left her, and my grandchildren are starving.” At the height of the Great Depression, times were tough for everyone, including the shopkeeper who had had the woman arrested. He refused to drop the charges. Mayor LaGuardia said, “I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” As he pronounced the sentence, the Mayor reached into his pocket, took out a ten dollar bill, and threw it into his hat with these famous words, “Here’s the ten dollar fine, which I now remit; and furthermore, I’m going to fine everyone in the courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.” The following day, a New York City newspaper reported, “Forty-seven dollars and fifty cents was turned over to a bewildered old grandmother who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Making forced donations were a red-faced storekeeper, seventy petty criminals, and a few New York City policemen.” This classic story provides a good introduction to this study found in the book of Ezekiel. The sins of the nation Israel demanded judgment as He had had enough of Israel’s stiff-necked and hard-hearted disobedience and would no longer tolerate it (and may I add, the sins of the United States and other countries also demand judgment from God and one day it will be carried out).
The Author and His Character
What is known of Ezekiel is derived solely from the book that bears his name. The title of the book is the same in Hebrew as it is in English and Greek translations. The name Ezekiel means “God is strong” or “God strengthens.” He was the son of a priest named Buzi. It is one of the books of the Major Prophets and contains a long series of revelations received by the priest Ezekiel, spoken in the first person, in which he identifies himself as a member of one of Judah’s priestly families and therefore was eligible to serve as a priest. As a priest-prophet called to minister to the exiles, his message had much to do with the temple and its ceremonies. Ezekiel was among the Jews exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C., and there he was a member of a community of Jewish exiles who settled on the banks of the Chebar, a river or canal of Babylonia. It was by this river, “in the land of the Chaldeans,” that he received his called by God to become a prophet. He was married (24:15-18), lived in a house of his own (3:24; 8:1) and, along with his fellow exiles, had a relatively free existence. During the same time that Jeremiah was a prophet to the people in Judea, Ezekiel was a prophet to the already exiled Israelites in Babylon. Ezekiel’s message was the same as Jeremiah, in that:
(1) He foretold the damage of the homeland;
(2) The destruction of Solomon’s temple, judgment, and
(3) The eventual renewal, in that God would bring a remnant back to the Promised Land.
Ezekiel’s Vision of God’s Glory
Ezekiel was obviously a man of broad knowledge, not only of his own national traditions but also of international affairs and history. His acquaintance with general matters of culture, from shipbuilding to literature, is equally amazing. He was gifted with a powerful intellect and was capable of grasping large issues and of dealing with them in grand and compelling images. His style is often detached, but in places it is passionate and earthy. More than any other prophet he was directed to involve himself personally in the divine word by acting it out in prophetic symbolism. Ezekiel seized the interest of his audience and it should seize the interest of us today, because God so frequently had him dramatize His messages as well as speak them. Some of these related to haircuts, war games, cookouts, and other moving actions that certainly added excitement to God’s Word, such as:
(1) The vision of Yahweh’s chariot (Chapter 1);
(2) The scroll (Ezekiel 2:1 – 3:15) – to emphasize the bitter nature of what God was asking Ezekiel to do; the Lord gave him a scroll and told him to eat it (3:1). Although the taste was sweet, when the prophets realized that the words they had “eaten” were words of severe judgment, the scrolls turned bitter in their stomachs. Ezekiel was stunned. Returning to the banks of the river Chebar outside Babylon, he was in a state of shock and sat silently among his fellow-exiles for 7 days. On the eighth day, God spoke to the prophet again. He told Ezekiel He was going to cause his tongue to cleave to the roof of his mouth (Ezekiel 3:26, “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house”), except on occasions when He gave him words to say. Ezekiel was to become a prophet who couldn’t speak, except when the Lord opened his mouth. This lasted for approximately eight years.
(3) Model of war – God commanded Ezekiel to make a drawing on a clay brick. The Lord wanted His prophet to draw the outline of the city of Jerusalem. As children use toy soldiers to simulate battle, the prophet was to arrange weapons depicting the city in a state of siege. Ezekiel was to lie next to this model on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days.
(4) The vision of the dry bones (Chapter 37:1-14)
(5) The shaved head – Using a sword, he shaved his hair and beard, and then divided his shaved hair into three piles. He burned the first pile, chopped up the second with a sword, and scattered the third pile of hair to the wind. Then he retrieved a few strands, some of which he tucked into the folds of his clothing, and some he burned. This time, however, God gave Ezekiel words to explain what he was doing. He expressed the meaning of his actions by declaring that in the siege of Jerusalem a third of her citizens would die from pestilence and famine, the sword would kill a third, and a third would flee in terror (5:12). A remnant of the surviving third would be preserved for return from exile. But even among them, some would be judged because of unbelief.
Almost a year after his first vision, Ezekiel received a visit from certain of the elders of Israel who asked him for a word from God (20:1). At that meeting the Lord had enabled Ezekiel to speak, but the words were severe. The prophet had to tell them that in God’s eyes they were living as stubborn rebels and spiritual adulterers destined for severe punishment (20, 23). Seven years later, another day dawned that Ezekiel would never forget. It was the day Nebuchadnezzar began his final siege of Jerusalem. It was also the day Ezekiel’s wife died of a stroke. In the morning, God had told the prophet He was going to take from him “the desire of his eyes.” He also told Ezekiel not to mourn in the customary manner. The text recording Ezekiel’s loss is disturbingly stark. He simply wrote, “So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded. And the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things signify to us, that you behave so?” (24:18-19). As the news spread, people came to share Ezekiel’s grief, only to discover the prophet was not mourning. They could hardly help but listen when he told them that his silent grief was a token of the stunned disbelief and pain they would feel when enemy armies destroyed Jerusalem, profaned the temple, and slaughtered their relatives who were still living there. The news would hurt them so deeply that they would, like Ezekiel, forgo the morning ritual. The study of Ezekiel yields some dimensions of theology, which are still applicable today, in that:
(1) God is the same across time (unchanging);
(2) Judgment is certain for sin;
(3) Individuals are responsible for their actions, and;
(4) Finally restoration is available through the Lord Himself.
His firm and inflexible energy of will and character distinguish Ezekiel, and we observe a devoted adherence to the rites and ceremonies of his national religion. He displayed the peculiar tendencies of a Hebrew educated under Levitical training.
God Reveals Himself
In Judah’s darkest hour, God called Ezekiel to go before the people. Ezekiel’s vision began with an encouraging display of a God who is in control and may I add He is a God who is still in control today. However, what followed was difficult for the prophet to accept. The voice from the throne told Ezekiel that God was making him a watchman for a people who would not listen (3:17). The voice told the prophet not to expect these people to listen to his warnings, for they had not been willing to listen to God Himself. Ezekiel 2:3-5, “… Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, thus saith the Lord God. As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse – for they are a rebellious house – yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Had you been in Ezekiel’s place, how would you have reacted to God’s news about this difficult task? It’s simple, get somebody else! How could he be confident in delivering God’s message while knowing that the people would probably reject it? The answer to this is also simple; it was not Ezekiel’s problem. All the prophet could do was deliver God’s word to Judah. What they did with the message was a matter of choice, their choice. The purpose of this book is to reveal God fully to His people who wanted nothing to do with God, and begins at a specific time in Ezekiel’s life. Ezekiel was in Babylon, outside of the land of Israel. The book is the result of direct revelation – a vision directly from God to His prophet Ezekiel. Thus, God reveals Himself:
(1) In His Word
Ezekiel leaves no room for questioning the source of his prophecy. He tells us in verse 1; it is a vision of God and unveils his major theme: Revealing God. In verse 3, he declares that the hand of the Lord is upon him, and he reveals his authority to teach and preach is from God. Ezekiel’s words and actions resulted from God’s work in his life. Ezekiel knew God personally! It is true that “the heavens declare the glory of God” – (Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork”). Creation Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” ; reveals God’s power and majesty in such a way that even those who are lost in their sins should see it. The creation tells us that God most certainly exists.
Acts 26:18 tell us to, “Open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light” … Do you agree with the apostle Paul that nature bears witness to the wisdom and power of God the Creator? Or do you think that everything accidentally evolved? According to astronomer and writer Carl Sagan, “Nature does not require a Designer. Maybe there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed.” As believers in Christ, we are saddened by people’s inability to see the fingerprint of God everywhere in the world. Many also do not believe that God has revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). They disagree with the Scriptures which declare that the light of the knowledge of God’s glory shines in the Savior’s face; 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”) and with our Lord’s positive declaration: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9). If the Lord has opened the eyes of our understanding so that we believe in Him, we can only humbly thank Him for His grace. Because we have done nothing to merit God’s mercy, we need to keep praying that the almighty Designer will do for unbelieving skeptics what He has done for us: “Open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light.” The Word of God is a special revelation and reveals God’s person. The Word moves us beyond knowledge that God exists to the knowledge of the God who exists. The days of prophets and prophecy have passed. Now that the Scripture is complete, it is sufficient revelation for all the needs of our lives. We must simply obey the Word of God, which we have received, and go to the Word to learn about the Designer of Creation, and pray that God would open the eyes of those unbelieving skeptics, in order to turn them from darkness to the marvelous light.
(2) By His Word
The Bible is the written Word of God and the revelation of God. What does the Word, which reveals God, reveal about Him? The Bible reveals God is Holy, He is faithful, He is everywhere, He is good, He is merciful, He is all powerful, He cares for His people, and as stated in Ephesians 1:6, 7, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” When Ezekiel tells us that he was among the exiles by the Kebar River, he reveals how God was working out His plan to purify Israel. God’s people should have been in God’s land, enjoying God’s blessing. Instead, they were out of God’s land and under God’s judgment. This fact is essential to understanding Ezekiel. How could such judgment take place? To find the answer, we must think through some central Old Testament truths. God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”) included three elements.
(1) God would give Abraham’s descendants the land of Palestine.
(2) He would make a great nation of Abraham.
(3) He would bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham.
God sealed this promise with an eternal covenant. The Old Testament details God’s work with His people in light of the Abrahamic Covenant. In fact, His program here on earth focuses on the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. The Book of Deuteronomy is the covenant God made with Abraham’s descendants, the nation of Israel. God’s plan was very concise and clear. He had first loved them and chosen them so they could live a life of obedience to Him. (Deuteronomy 7:6-11, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath, which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh King of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth; him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them”).
However, in the event of hard-hearted disobedience, God’s plan also included the possibility of terrible chastisement and judgment. The first of the Ten Commandments tells of the uniqueness and singularity of God. He is the only God, and therefore He must be the sole object of our worship (Deuteronomy 5:6-8). Idolatry amounted to rejection of God, and allowed another to be in His rightful place. For such foolish disobedience, God promised to chastise (discipline) His people. In the book of (Deuteronomy 28:15-68); you will find the curses for disobedience. However, verses 1-14 speak about the blessings from the Lord if His people would hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God and do all His commandments. The Bible also shows that God would graciously turn from judgment and restore His people when they repented. However, stiff-necked resistance to God would bring them the worst chastisement and their captivity in a foreign land. The ten tribes that made up the Northern Kingdom of Israel had already been scattered in God’s judgment (2 Kings 17:7-23). The Southern Kingdom, Judah, had not learned from the chastisement of the Northern Kingdom. Their sins brought them to captivity too (2 Kings 25). Thus, we find Ezekiel in exile among them in Babylon by the Kebar River.
During the past year, many manufacturers have recalled cars, trucks, tires, window blinds and toys. In every case, the message was similar: “This product is defective or dangerous and could cause serious injury or even death. Return it to us and we will correct the problem.” But it’s up to the consumer to heed the warning and return the dangerous item. Suppose God put this warning on the heart and soul of every person: “Because of a fatal attraction to sin and willful misuse, this item is defective. Failure to correct this problem will result in certain spiritual death.” Through the prophet Ezekiel, God said that the hearts of His people had become adulterous (Ezekiel 6:9) and as hard as a rock (11:19). Yet the Lord longed for their hearts to be softened, and for them to come back to Him. He made this impassioned plea, Ezekiel 18:30-32, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin … Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies … Therefore turn and live!”
The Sin of Judah (4-24)
God is gracious and full of mercy and gives repeated warnings before He judges. Ezekiel recounted God’s gracious work with sinners. He both spoke and exemplified God’s Word. Ezekiel himself was actually one of the communication tools that God used to present His love and grace to needy sinners. The truth that we worship a God who is willing to judge sin is sobering. On the other hand, God’s judgment call lost sinners to repent. On the other, it calls God’s people to purity. According to 1 Peter 4:7, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” For those who have trusted Christ for salvation, God’s judgment does not carry the threat of Hell. As born again believers, our sins have been fully dealt with at the cross (Romans 8:1). However, God may chastise believers for unconfessed sin. Ezekiel was a righteous man, but he still had to live through the judgment that God brought upon the unbelieving nation. This judgment, though painful, drew Ezekiel closer to God.
Facing Our Sins
A man who had spent time in jail for abusing his wife and children refused to acknowledge he had done anything wrong. He insisted that he had been a good husband and father. He has shown no remorse, and is still living a perverted lifestyle. I assured him that Christ, the Great Physician, had the cure for his problems, but until he would admit he was sick and needed help, the Great Physician could not apply the remedy. Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel, faced a similar problem with the people of Israel. They were involved in Idolatry, immorality, cruelty, selfishness, and deceitfulness (very much like today). Both these prophets pleaded with them, offering them God’s healing, but they refused to acknowledge God, just as they refused to hear the prophet Jeremiah in 9:5-6, “And they will deceive everyone his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.”
What about the present age we are living in? Just as it was with the people of Israel, so it is with the people in today’s world. They have rejected the authority and relevance of the Bible, claiming that it’s outdated and doesn’t pertain to their concerns. Just like the nation of Israel, the people of our nation is involved in Idolatry, all kinds of immorality, cruelty, self-centeredness, deceitfulness, disrespect, and thoughts of family and friends are displaced by a greater and all consuming desire to satisfy the cravings with drugs, gambling, alcohol or an illicit affair. People of this age have become their own authority on what is right and wrong, instead of the authority of God’s Word. It is also very sad, but true, that many believers in Jesus Christ are rejecting the authority and relevance of the Scriptures and are currently participating in the pursuits of worldliness rather than delighting and living within the standards found in God’s Word and enjoying the fruits there from. However, the Great Physician stands ready to heal, but He cannot do so until people acknowledge their sickness and their need of His healing hand.
The Sin of the Nations (25-33)
The nations around Israel should have known the true God and submitted to Him, because of their involvement with Israel; however, they failed to do so. Ezekiel preached God’s plans for judgment on the nations, first on those closest to Judah and then on those at a distance. In each case, He revealed their need to repent of their specific sins. God knows the situation of each sinning group and calls them to repentance based on their offenses. Though sinners bear the responsibility for their behavior, Ezekiel revealed that the Devil is God’s adversary and the moving force behind the nations who oppose God’s plan. Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). John recorded Jesus’ words and served as God’s instrument to reveal that “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” or in the grip of the wicked one (1 John 5:19).
God Restores His People (34-48)
A. Because Of His covenant – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all show a similar pattern. The promise of judgment is followed by the promise of restoration, based on God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham. God will bring all the promises of the covenant to fulfillment in His way and in His time. Even though His people were in exile (1:1-3), He could present the promise of restoration to them. God, the Giver of life, promised life to Israel in one of the most memorable pictures of conversion in the whole Bible. Beginning with only skeletons, He constructed living people (Ezekiel 37) who came to life through the preaching of the Word of God. At a future time, Israel will come to life as well. When Israel comes to genuine spiritual life, she can be fully restored to the land and receive the promises of God’s covenant. God will defeat the enemies of His redeemed people before the reign of God’s Messiah over God’s kingdom.
B. For true worship – as a redeemed people, Israelites will be able to “worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). If the blood of our Lord has redeemed you, you also can worship him in spirit and in truth. A rebuilt temple will provide a place for the people to offer memorial offerings. We worship the Creator of all things in this building. In this way, they will celebrate and remember God’s great work on their behalf. Worship ought to be the result of a true knowledge of God. True worship turns attention from the individual and upward towards God our Creator.
So, why should we worship God and why bother going to church? Some would tell us that it’s better to sleep late on Sunday, eat a leisurely breakfast, and lounge around talking with the family. And then maybe have lunch with friends or enjoy a picnic and games with the children. “Make it a day that’s different and even restful,” some would say, “but don’t waste time by going to church on Sunday!” Worship? Who needs worship anyway? We all do! We need worship because we are unique creatures made in the image of God. We are made for God, so we can’t fulfill our purpose unless we develop a right relationship with Him. And worship helps us to do that when we focus on the Lord. As we join with other worshipers in church, our hearts are lifted out of this temporal world into God’s eternal world. Accordingly:
(1) In worship the conscience is quickened by the holiness of God;
(2) The mind is fed by the truth of God;
(3) The imagination is purged by the beauty of God;
(4) The heart is opened to the love of God, and
(5) The will is devoted to the purpose of God.
And thus we are helped onward in our goal of becoming more like Christ. I can’t help but think about the Israelites. We have probably never been to a worship service quite like the one they had after reaching the safe side of the Red Sea. The people had just seen God save them from certain, watery death. They had come within an eyelash of being pushed into the sea by the charging forces of Pharaoh’s army. Relentlessly, the chariots with their soldiers had chased them down. In panic, the children of Israel had cried out for help. The Lord parted the Red Sea, allowing the people to cross, but when the Egyptians rode onto the seabed, God caused the waters to cascade down on them. That’s when the celebration began! Joyously, the people praised God for His: (1) strength and salvation (Exodus 15:2), (2) His power (15:6), (3) His greatness (15:7), (4) His holiness (15:11), (5) His mercy, redemption, and guidance (15:13), and (6) His eternal reign over them (15:18). They poured out their hearts in worship to the God of their salvation. Look over the attributes for which the Israelites praised God. Review how His character has touched your life. Find ways to honor Him in worship. The God who parted the sea is the God who makes a way for you. Give Him your celebration of praise. Ezekiel’s writing is part of God’s plan to thoroughly furnish us unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:17). However, we are God’s church, not Israel, so we must apply Ezekiel in a way that is consistent with our dispensation. We can and should be able to identify a number of similarities between our situation and Ezekiel’s, such as:
(1) The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob came to God by faith, just as we do;
(2) Their sins were washed away by the blood of Christ, just as ours are (Romans 3:23-26);
(3) They lived with a goal of holiness and were sustained and guided by the Word of God, just as He guides and sustains us; and,
(4) In reading favorite psalms such as Psalm 1, 15, and 23, it is clear that they enjoyed a rich spiritual life. In these and other ways, Israel’s life parallels the church’s life.
However, similarity is not identity. The land of Palestine was the setting in which God developed holiness in His people’s lives. In that specific geographic locale, the Hebrews obeyed the promises of God’s Word. His promises of blessing or chastisement pertain to that land. Blessing manifested itself physically in the weather of their land and in the crops it produced. Their relationships with other nations also reflected the “blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience” pattern. When they obeyed, no nation could stand before them. The church is not Israel. It is made up of people living around the world from all nations and races. We do not share the genetic code of Abraham to tie us together. Instead, we are a part of the Body of Christ, related to the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18-20). In each geographic locality, the local church manifests the Body of Christ to the world. As each member uses His spiritual gift, the body functions and God’s people grow toward maturity. The New Testament Scripture is our detailed plan for ministry in the body. The Old Testament is both guide and encouragement.
I submit to you that you and I can be an Ezekiel in today’s society. Ezekiel 2:8 states it this way, “You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” The message that we have to give is not ours, but rather it is a message from God. If they rejected the message, they reject God and not us. Too many times, we are unsuccessful in our attempts to reach the lost because we worry about what they will do or say concerning God’s Word. Don’t worry about how they will react. Just give them the message of the cross – that’s what they need. What they do with the message is not our concern. If they obey, we rejoice with them and help them learn more. If they reject the word, we look for another opportunity and move on to someone else. God used Ezekiel to deliver His message to Judah; today, He uses us to deliver His message to a lost and dying world. We must do what God has instructed us to do and let God’s Word do what He designed it to do, save lost souls!
Proverbs 14:12 tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”. The story has been told of a man’s daughter who was coming home from college for the weekend to play the piano at her friend’s wedding. Before she left, I sent her an email directing her to take an alternate route instead of the one she usually travels for the 6 hour drive home. Why? Because on that road a few weeks earlier my wife and I had been delayed for 2 hours by construction crews. As parents, we must provide alternate routes in life as well. We’ve observed the wrong highways others have traveled or perhaps the foolish ways we have taken, and we know they lead to delay or danger. Think of all the possible paths our children might choose, the road of sexual immorality, the avenue of alcohol and drug abuse, the way of ungodly friends, and so on and so forth. However, in Jesus Christ, there is an alternate path, a route that will lead our children away from the struggles we know they’ll face on any of the other roads. My friend, the right route starts with the Via Dolorosa, the way of the cross. It starts with salvation in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It continues with a path that is narrow and straight; one directed by God’s Word, and includes Jesus Christ as a traveling companion. That’s the ultimate alternate route.
The journey that we’re on each day
Has many roads to choose;
But if we trust in the Lord to guide,
Our way we cannot lose.
The study of Ezekiel can help you understand God, avoid His judgment, and be encouraged in living for Him. For many, the book of Ezekiel is like a 5,000 piece puzzle. They might have all the pieces, but they have lost the lid to the box, which contains the picture of the puzzle. As they look at the pieces, they are baffled. How will they ever put the puzzle together? We find the book is simply designed. The prophet Ezekiel was ministering to the Jewish exiles in Babylon while God was chastising His sinning people. Ezekiel ministered at the same time that Daniel began to serve King Nebuchadnezzar in the courts of Babylon and Jeremiah spoke God’s word in Jerusalem. The word that Ezekiel spoke had a context. Part of the context was God’s covenant with His people; the other part was the over 800 years of Hebrew history between the giving of the covenant and Ezekiel’s ministry. These contexts will help us understand Ezekiel. They’re like the missing box lid of the puzzle. The book of Ezekiel cites the reasons for God’s judgment of His people. It also records His grace to them: He would fulfill His covenant with them, and He would offer then new life. The judgment Ezekiel wrote about is balanced by the sure hope of restoration for Israel.
The time you spend in Ezekiel will enrich and strengthen your spiritual life and walk here on earth. Ezekiel can teach you how to come to new levels of creativity in sharing God’s Word; will impress you with the seriousness of God’s judgment, and both will help you to share Christ and the salvation only He can give. I believe in the inspiration of the Bible and quote 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 as the proof of my belief. These verses teach the inspiration of the Bible, but they also teach the purpose of the Bible. Ezekiel is designed by God to make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The word “perfect” does not refer to sinlessness in this context. Rather, it means “complete” or “adequate.” The Lord wants to teach us truths from Ezekiel so we can live in a way that honors Him who gave His life so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10.
The Bible is old, but its truths are always new.