Ezekiel Bible Study

Pr. Daniel F. Dahling

Table of Contents
Background Chapter 18 Chapter 37
Chapter 1 Chapter 19 Chapter 38
Chapters 2 & 3 Chapter 20 Chapter 39
Chapters 4 & 5 Chapter 21 Chapter 40
Chapters 6 & 7 Chapter 22 Chapter 41
Chapters 8 & 9 Chapter 23 Chapter 42
Chapter 10 Chapter 24 Chapter 43
Chapter 11 Chapters 25 - 32 Chapter 44
Chapter 12 Chapter 33 Chapter 45
Chapter 13 Chapter 34 Chapter 46
Chapter 14 Chapter 35 Chapter 47
Chapters 15 - 17 Chapter 36 Chapter 48
 

1. Millennialism orientation

2. The Glory of the Lord [chapter 1]

3. The Watchman [chapter 2]

4. A Sign for Israel [chapters 4 & 5]

5. The Day of Doom [chapters 6& 7]

6. Visions of Crime and Punishment [chapters 8 & 9]

7. Jerusalem Burned and Forsaken [chapters 10 & 11]

8. Ezekiel Prophet of Restoration [chapter 33]

9. The Shepherd King [chapter 34]

10 Restoration to Life [chapter 37 ]

11 Restoration to Safety [chapters 38 & 39 ]

12 The Lord is in His Holy Temple [chapters 40-43 ]

13 The Greening of Life's Desert [chapter 47 ]

14 Looking Back - a review

It is important for us to take a few moments to familiarize ourselves with the meaning of Millennialism before we proceed.

This introductory class is designed to provide you with a brief overview of the errors of Millennialism that have confused good people as they study especially these books of Holy Scripture.

First - we need to consider the fact that the Holy Scriptures are presented to us by inspiration in various literary styles.

Historical reporting

Luke 2:1-7

Historical event in poetic media

Judges 5:15b-18

Personification

Isaiah 55:12b

Historical allusion through a fable

Judges 9:8-15

Allegory

Psalm 80:8-12

Imagery & Symbolism

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

The above illustrates why some people have problems with the Holy Scriptures if they take everything literally and fail to take into account the literary style that was employed by the inspired writer.

As we learn to recognize a parable as a parable, a historical event as an historical event, allegory as allegory, personification as personification, imagery and imagery, we will be spared from the abortive interpretive efforts which do violence to the messages given to us in the inspired Word of God.

The one group that has twisted the literary styles of the inspired writers to suit their interpretive needs most out of shaped is the millennia lists.

[I] There are three major schools of Millennialism

A. The Preterits School - Founded about 1614 by a Jesuit priest name Alcazar who interpreted Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Revelation to prove that all prophecies were fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The Emperor Nero was thought to be the antichrist. Not many adherents to this school of thought today.

B. The Historical School - Founded in the 12th Century AD by Abbott Joachim, who regarded the papacy as the antichrist. Reformers supported this interpretation since it gave them fuel for their fire against Rome.

C. The Futurist School - Dates from about the 16th Century and was founded by the Jesuit priest Ribera. His interpretation held that the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel had been fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, but that those given in Revelation chapter 4 and following are yet to come. He taught that Revelation chapters 6-19 are the details of Daniel's 70 weeks. His main objective was to rid the papacy of the stigma of being called the antichrist.

It is the Futurist School that has survived and forms the basic foundation upon which the millennia lists of various stripes have built their incredible interpretations.

[II]The Six Dispensations of Millennialism

A.

Creative

B.

Age of Conscience

C.

Age of Law - first coming of Christ - Incarnation

D.

The Church Age - ending with the Rapture and second resurrection.

E.

The Kingdom Age - The 1,000 year reign of Christ which ends with judgment,

the Second Resurrection, the destruction of the earth and which leads to the final dispensation...

F.

The Perfect Age.

[III] What does the Bible teach concerning Christ return?

A.        Some say it was spiritual and was fulfilled at Pentecost

B.         Some say it is personal and comes at the moment of a person's conversion

C.        Some say it is personal and comes at the moment of a person's conversion

D.        Some say that the second coming of the Lord took place in 70 AD when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

E.         Some say it is the spread of Christianity into the entire world which is the second coming of the Lord.

F.         We believe, teach and confess as Lutheran Christians that our Lord will come again and physically appear to gather believers into His kingdom on the last great day. We believe, teach and confess that He will return without warning, "as a thief in the night" and that when He comes, the history of the world will end. There will be no time of probation, no thousand-year reign.

[IV] The Two Stages of Christ's Return According to Millennia lists

A.

First comes the Rapture

Zechariah 14:4

B.

Then comes "the revelation"

Revelation 19:11-16

Current predictions as to when this "rapture" is to begin are as many as there are millennial prophets who twist the meaning of God's Word to suit their interpretative needs. A large body of Millennial writing pointed to the year 1993, then 1996. We have also seen numerous sect groups who have gathered on specific days to await the coming of the Lord to begin the rapture, but they have all been disappointed. As we near the year 2000 and a new millennium, reports of other dates for the coming of the Lord should not surprise us.

[V] What about the 1,000 years of Revelation 20:1-7?

When we get to our study of Revelation we will spend time on how this passage is rightly interpreted.

According to a literal interpretation of the Revelation 20 passage, there is to be a period of 1,000 years during which Satan is bound and Christ shall reign on earth. The question is, is this to be taken literally or is it to be taken symbolically. It will become very clear that the symbols of the book of Revelation are just that--the Holy apostle John is reporting a vision he sees above the earth.

There is no reason why we should interpret this passage literally or else we will have the dickens of a time with the other symbols that John presents in his revelation.

[VI] What about Daniel's 70 weeks?

The last of the 70 weeks does not follow in sequence in Daniel's prophecy. We are told by Daniel that the meaning of the 70th week was to be sealed in a book and not opened until the end of time.

We believe, teach and confess that the "time of trouble" that Daniel prophecies in Daniel 12:1 refer to the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem in 70 AD rather than a period at some time in the future when there would be a time of tribulation. The trouble that started then is still with us and will be with us until our Lord returns in glory on the last Great Day!

[VII] The role of numbers in the Bible and in millennialism

A.     The occurrence of numbers throughout the Bible has tickled the fancy of millennial minded people. They have attempted to use a numeric scheme to work out an arithmetic formula that leads them to determine when the Lord will return.

B.     Some numbers in Scripture are of some significance:

1.

One

Is the number of unity- One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of us all.

2.

Two

Is the number of union- the two natures of Christ, the pairing of the disciples. etc.

3.

Three

Is the number of Divinity- The Holy Trinity, our creation with body, soul, and spirit.

4.

Four

Is the number of this world- Four seasons, four directions, four basic elements.

5.

Five

Is the number of division- the five wise and the five foolish maidens;

the five loaves the five digits, the five senses.

6.

Six

Is the number of man- man was created on the sixth day; God created the world in six days.

7.

Seven

Is the number of perfection.

8.

Eight

Is the number of the new order of things.

9.

Ten

Is the number of worldly competition for it is the sum of 6 plus 4 – world and man

10.

Twelve

Is the number of eternal perfection

 

 

12 tribes of Israel

 

 

12 stones on High Priests' breastplate

 

 

12 cakes of bread in tabernacle

 

 

12 wells of water at Elim

 

 

12 spies sent to inspect Canaan

 

 

12 stones placed in Jordan River by Joshua

 

 

12 stones in Elijah's altar

 

 

12 brass oxen held Solomon's molten sea in Temple

 

 

Jesus was age 12 when He showed Himself to be the promised Messiah

 

 

Jesus chose 12 disciples

 

 

There are 12 legions of angels

 

 

The woman described in the revelation had a crown with 12 stars.

11.

Forty

Is the number of probation

 

 

It rained for 40 days and 40 nights

 

 

Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness

 

 

Moses spent 40 years in Egypt

 

 

The spies [12] took 40 days to look over Canaan.

 

 

The reigns of kings Saul, David, and Solomon each lasted for forty years.

 

 

The city of Nineveh was given 40 days to repent.

 

 

Elijah fasted for 40 days and 40 nights

 

 

Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days.

 

 

Jesus appeared 11 times during the 40 days between His resurrection and His Ascension.

But we must remember the words of our Lord as reported by Luke in Acts 1:7:

"It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority."

As we begin our study of these Apocalyptic writings, let us remember they are give to us by the inspiration of God through the literary styles chosen by those who were called to write.

The meaning is not unclear to those who apply the basic principle of biblical interpretation that says that the Bible interprets itself and needs no help from human minds.

A Chronology of Ezekiel’s book

The pivot around which the book centers is the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in the year 586 BC  Ezekiel’s prophecies began 6 years before that, and continued 16 years after, covering a period of 22 years. Until Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel was unceasingly predicting its certainty. {chapters 1-24}  After that his prophecies deal with the overthrow of surrounding heathen nations (chapters 25-32) and the re-establishment and glorious future of Israel (chapters 33-48)

The visions given to Ezekiel by God are given in (most cases) chronological order or sequence. The years are dated fro King Jehoichin’s Captivity which was 597 BC. (11 years before the fall of Jerusalem) 

The “30th year” (1:1) which was the equivalent of the “5th year” of Jehoichin’s captivity (1:2) is thought to have been the 30th year of Ezekiel’s life. { By the way this was the age at which Levites began their service. [Numbers 4:3]  John the Baptist and Jesus began their work at the age of 30}

Other Bible scholars see this 30th year as the 30th year in the Babylonian calendar of Babylon’s independence of Assyria, won by king Nebopolasar in 625 BV

Dates of Ezekiel’s Visions

Chapter 1:2

5th year 4th month (July)

5th day

592 BC

Chapter 8:1

6th year 6th month (September)

5th day

591 BC

Chapter 20:1

7th year 5th month (August)

10th day

590 BC

Chapter 24:1

9th year 10th month (January)

10th day

587 BC

Siege of Jerusalem began 9th year 10th month 10th day

Chapter 26:1

11th year 5th month (August)

1st day

586 BC

Chapter 29:1

10th year 10th month (January)

12th day

586 BC

Chapter 29:17

27th year 1st month (April)

1st day

570 BC

Chapter 30:20

11th year 1st month (April)

7th day

586 BC

Chapter 32:1

12th year 12th month (March)

1st day

584 BC

Jerusalem Fell 11th year 4th month 9th day

Chapter 32:1

12th year 12th month (March)

1st day

584 BC

Chapter 32:17

12th year 12th month (March)

15th day

584 BC

Chapter 33:21

12th year 10th month (January)

5th  day

584 BC

Chapter 40:1

25th year 1st month (April)

10 day

572 BC

Since Ezekiel was so meticulous in dating his visions, even to the exact day, it is assumed that all that follows a given date belongs to that date, until the next date is mentioned.

Chapter 1 - The Glory of the Lord

“…the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” (Ezekiel 1:1)

Background

It was the year 592 BC Five years earlier Nebuchadnezzar had carried off the upper strata of the chosen people to Babylonia (see 2 Kings 24:10-16)

Here they were settled in Tel-abib on “the river Chebar” which was a canal of the Euphrates river.

To the exiles the world seemed “out of joint”. The heavens no longer were “telling the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1)

Instead they seemed to proclaim His defeat, His loss of control. When Jerusalem and the Temple were leveled (2 Kings 25:8-12) the hopes of God’s Chosen people were shattered.

Into this world of dark despair “the glory of the Lord” (1:28) suddenly burst forth with such blinding light and such cosmic configurations as to rouse even the most dispirited from their depression and stupor of doubt and to strike terror in the hearts of all who defied Him. He was not an idol, locked up in the walls of a shrine. In the very heartland of the conqueror, “the heavens were opened” to assert His worldwide dominion.

One of the captives was “Ezekiel, the priest, the son of Buzi” He was permitted to see “visions of God.”  It was for Ezekiel to solve the riddle of his life and the life of his fellow exiles.

What he saw was so out of this world that he was constrained to say its features were “LIKE” some phenomena or had their “APPEARANCE.” [Note: John will describe scenes in heaven with similar verbiage in his revelation he received from the Savior.]

What Ezekiel beheld will be the focus of our study. What the meaning of these visions were for Ezekiel and what they mean for us today require a careful study of this inspired book keeping in mind the intent that the Spirit of God had when He revealed it to Ezekiel.

A Word About Visions – Should we expect God to use visions to reveal His will to us today? How would you respond to a person who claimed to have had a vision from God? What cautions might you have for such a person? How does Luke 16:29 help answer these questions?

Eastern cults, becoming popular in our day rely on a number of exercises and manipulations to bring the merging of human consciousness with a universal, transcendent world-spirit.  How does God’s revelation to Ezekiel differ from such self-induced attempts to rise above our natural senses?

Word Pictures in Chapter 1

1.      Vs. 4 North – Babylonians, home base of their gods. To the Hebrew people, North was the direction from which trouble would come.  Ezekiel saw a fiery storm cloud approaching out of the North. The enemy came from the North but God who comes from the north rules in the midst of the enemy.

2.      Vs. 4 Stormy wind – The Babylonia god Marduk was the “Lord of the storm.” The Babylonians worshipped the forces of nature. The Hebrew people worshipped a personal, gentle, compassionate living God. What Ezekiel saw, namely, the glory of the Lord, was a vision so awesome and overpowering that Ezekiel fell on his face. What Ezekiel saw was so great that he had difficulty in describing it in words. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite. Note also 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

3.      Vv. 5-12 - Living creatures – Babylonians ascribed magical powers to their gods. Hebrews remembered the Cherubim – the rank of heavenly messengers who had a number of specific functions. Note: in Verse 10 we have the basis of the symbolism for the four Evangelists. This symbolism is denoted on the wall of Emanuel Lutheran Church, New Haven, IN Man-Matthew;  Lion-Mark; Ox-Luke; Eagle – John. See also Revelation 4:7.

4.      Vs. 13 – Fire – Babylonians called upon their god Marduk to send fire on Jerusalem. Hebrew exiles hold to hope of their God who said He was a “devouring fire.”

5.      Vv. 15-19 – Wheel within a wheel – Images of Marduk paraded through the streets in ornate vehicles. Elijah’s fiery chariot. The vehicle for the four living creatures was a four-wheeled chariot of fire-awesome- capable of going in any direction without turning. They were controlled, directed by the Spirit (see Vv. 12, 20, 21) They went where the Lord God wanted them to go.

6.      Vs. 18 – full of eyes – Able to avoid obstacles and move freely about.

7.      Vs. 28 – The bow – Hebrew symbol of promise and hope- God sent a rainbow in the sky as a sign of the covenant He had made with Noah. This symbol of peace was around the throne. (See also Revelation 4:3, 10:1)

8.      Vs. 26- Throne – Marduk occupied the highest throne in the Babylonian pantheon. Hebrews held to the promise that their God alone occupied the highest throne.

9.      Vs. 28 – The effect on Ezekiel: he fell on his face in awe and trembling, overcome with the vision of the glory of God. So also in our case. Moses, Isaiah, and Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord God and were never able to forget the glory. It motivated, empowered them to be great prophets of the Lord God.

As we see God’s glory, as the shepherds did at Christ’s birth, we too are empowered, motivated to serve the Lord God.

Chapters 2 and 3 – The Glory of the Lord

2:1-2 – The Commission: “Son of man...I will speak to you.” A mortal term – appears 78 times in Ezekiel. “The spirit entered into me experiential feeling (see Numbers 24:2; 1 Samuel 19:6; 1 Kings 22:24; Isaiah 61:1)

2:2-4 – The Mission: “I send you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels, who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day.”  This is a difficult task to consider. Ezekiel knew the people were not open to any message from the God of Abraham. In life we ask why am I sent to work here, where people are so unreceptive. We should be honored when God assigns us His most difficult tasks.

2:4-5 – The Reward: There is no guarantee of success. Nothing is offered. Ezekiel is simply to faithfully proclaim what God tells him to proclaim. “Be not concerned for their praise or criticism, but be steadfast in obedience to Him who has sent us.”

Then they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel may not live to see the day come; his name may be forgotten, but in the end men’s hearts will turn to the truth for which he stood. (This is what many call an example of post-mortem praise.)

2:6 – Don’t Be Afraid: Obstacles and dangers and discomforts. (Examples our forefathers, and Wyneken)

2:7 – Content of Proclamation: “Speak My words.”

2:8 – A Warning: “Be not rebellious – open thy mouth and eat what I give.”

2:9-3:3 – The Outstretched Hand: A written scroll – words of lamentation and mourning – the metaphor of eating – assimilation. What at first is terrifying becomes sweet as honey when accepted in the spirit of fulfilling God’s will.

3:4-6 – The Rebuke of Strangers: To his own people – Jesus went to His own but they received Him not. (John 1:11)  A prophet is without honor in his own country. This was a second commission.

3:7-11 – Resistance: Hard foreheads and stubborn hearts would be met but the courage which would be like iron. The courage and resolution Ezekiel shows is not in keeping with his temperament.  Ezekiel is to receive God’s words in his heart and hear with his ears.” and then go to his people and say, “Thus says the Lord!” whether they hear or refuse to hear.

3:16-21 - The Fourth Commission: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel..." Ezekiel is to become his brother's keeper. Israel was on the brink of disaster. Only through Ezekiel's diligence could disaster be avoided. [example of what happens when we put down our guard]

3:22-27 - The Fifth Commission: Ezekiel goes to "the plain" the spirit comes again and instructs him to go into seclusion. God strikes him dumb for an unspecified period. "The dumbness is interpreted as symbolically representing the period when Ezekiel could not preach repentance, but only doom." Says one commentator.

Questions

1. Putting yourself in Ezekiel's shoes, how would you respond to the task that God gave him?

2. Does a call to be a spokesman for God always entail great personal cost?

3. What does Ezekiel's experience say to us who attempt to be Christ's witnesses?

Chapters 4 & 5 - A Sign For Israel

Ezekiel - a prophet and preacher. In many cases he not only spoke for God but actually acted out his message in these chapters we have a series of these "sermons in action".

By acting out the message in these four "pantomimes" he was transmitting what he had received with his heart and heard with his ears.

4:1-3 - In this first symbolic act, Ezekiel puts to rest the false notion which some held that God would never demean Himself by destroying Jerusalem, the place where His honor dwelt. Ezekiel takes a soft clay tablet and sketches on it a rough map of the city of Jerusalem and indicates it is in a state of siege. As a "sign" that God would not intervene and lift the siege he places an iron plate between the city and himself, God's representative. No cry for deliverance from the besieged city would be able to penetrate the ironclad decree of the city's destruction.

4:4-8 - In the second pantomime, Ezekiel makes it clear that this was no chance happening or accident of history. God had decreed it. he had every reason to inflict this punishment. Both Israel [10 Northern tribes] and Judah [2 Southern tribes] had kindled the wrath of God by their wickedness and idolatry and were about to "bear their punishment" for a long time. In acting out the reason for the divine decree, Ezekiel plays the role of the apostate nation. As if crushed to the ground by the heavy burden and held by cords to prevent escape, he lay on his left side and then on his right side for a specified number of days, symbolizing the punishment which Israel and Judah would ultimately have to bear.

4:9-17 - A third series of symbolic actions is designed to simulate the physical and spiritual anguish the rebellious people would endure during the siege and subsequent exile. To portray the coming lack of bread and water, he eats a daily ration of bread, weighing no more than 8 oz, and he drinks no more than about 2 pints of water. The dough for the bread, consisting of coarse grains was to be baked over a fire fueled by "human dung" to depict the ritual uncleanness which the people would not be able to avoid during the time of their horrid experience. Ezekiel recoils from engaging in such a contaminating act and was permitted to use cow dung, still use widely for fuel by a number of people in developing countries where wood is scarce. 

In chapter 5 we find a series of symbolic actions portraying the greatness of God’s furious anger on Jerusalem because of the people’s sin.

5:1-4 - The fourth series of dramatic pantomimes illustrates the climax of Israel's doom. They portray how "furious the Lord's chastisements of the faithless people would be." (v.15) Their "abominations" and "detestable things " moved into His sanctuary as idol symbols (v.11) kindled God's anger and roused Him to fury (v.13). The items used in acting out these object lessons are as follows:

[1] A sharp sword or knife honed to a razor's edge

[2] The prophet's hair, cut and shaved from his head and beard

[3] A pair of balance scales to weigh the hair and to divide it into three heaps.

[4] The skirts or folds of the prophet's robes, into which a "small number of the hairs, scattered on the sand,” were to be placed.

The first to be burned the second to be struck with the sword, and the third to be scattered to the wind.

To cut away the hair of the head and of the beard was to take away a man’s praise and glory. What was done with the hair portrayed God’s furious anger and chastisement. In vs. 3 is the promise that a remnant would survive.

5:5-17 - What kind of image of God is Ezekiel presenting here? What is the purpose of God's justice? How and to whom are we to apply the law to our lives?

The reason for the furious punishment was the horrible sinfulness of the people. The punishments are vividly foretold. Their greater opportunity to know the Lord resulted in greater punishment when they sinned against the Lord. Whoever thinks of sin but lightly needs to read this section.

The Lord spoke very plainly regarding the punishment the people of Judah would suffer. None will be able to say: we did not understand the symbolic actions. The certainty: the Lord has spoken; He will do it.

Questions

Some say the God of the Old Testament is vicious and arbitrary, given to violent outbursts of passion.

How do you react to the things discussed in these chapters?

What does God's judgment communicate to you?

The Glory of the Lord

"...the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God"

BACKGROUND:

It was the year 592 BC. Five years earlier Nebuchadnezzar had carried off the upper strata of the chosen people to Babylon. [2 Kings 24:10-16]

Here they were settled at Tel-abib on "the river Chebar" which was a canal of the Euphrates river.

To the exiles the world seemed "out of joint" The heavens no longer were "telling the glory of God" [Psalm 19:1]

Instead they seemed to proclaim His defeat, his loss of control. When Jerusalem and the Temple were leveled [2 Kings 25:8-12], the hopes of God's chosen people were shattered.

Into this world of dark despair "the glory of the Lord" (1:28) suddenly bursts forth with such blinding light and such cosmic configurations as to rouse even the most dispirited from their depression and stupor of doubt and to strike terror in the hearts of all who defied Him. He was not an idol, locked up in the walls of a shrine. In the very heartland of the conqueror, 'the heavens were opened" to assert His worldwide dominion.

One of the captives was "Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi". He was permitted to see "visions of God". It was for Ezekiel to solve the riddle of his life and the life of his fellow exiles.

What he saw was so out of this world that he was constrained to say its features were "like" some phenomena which had their "appearance".

What Ezekiel beheld will be the focus of our study. What the meaning of these visions were for Ezekiel and what they mean for us today requires a careful study of this inspired book keeping in mind.

Chapters 6 & 7 - The Day of Doom

The day of doom is about to come, yet God in His mercy still gives His people hope. In Ezekiel 6:8-10 God says to us “Yet I will leave some of you alive…then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive…

6:1-7 - The Prophet’s eyes sweep over the countryside of Judah and takes in at a glance the numerous hilltops on which stand altars – not altars for sacrifices to the true God, but altars to the fertility gods of Baalim…

The Lord will destroy the idolatrous high places throughout the land and lay the dead bodies of the people before their idols.

The Lord’s gracious purpose for such action is: “You shall know that I am the Lord.”

1 Samuel 9:11-14

2 Kings 23:10

Jeremiah 7:31               “You Shall Know That I am the Lord

Jeremiah 19:1-6

6:8-10 - But, the exiles will remember the true God. Not all will perish; some will remain to carry into the future the lessons taught from their harrowing experience when Babylon overtook Assyria and with their victory brought new hardships to God’s people. They would look back and understand what it had to be – that God did it with a breaking heart, but was driven to it by the sins of the people.

The Lord will leave a remnant. The Lord will achieve His purpose of bringing the people to repentance, and they will know the Lord is the LORD> He does not do evil in vain.

6:11-14 - Another reminder – “then you shall know that I am the Lord” the extent of the destruction is indicated by the reference to Riblah, a city on the Orantes River near the northern boundary of Israel under King Solomon and at the time of Jeroboam II (see 21Kings 8:65; 1 Kings 14:25)

The evil inflicted on Israel was not an “end” in itself, nor would it be in vain. Chastened and purified survivors would be deemed worthy to fulfill God’s plan for His chosen people.

The Lord GOD (the covenant Lord and the Almighty, the Sovereign Lord) calls the people to repent and to turn to Him. Unfortunately, such repentance will not happen until the Lord God’s fury is upon them. Notice Vv. 13a and 14b.

7:1-9 - In Chapter 7 we have to pictures of the coming doom. It is god judgment on the nation and the inevitable consequences of its misdeeds. God said He would set Himself against those who mocked him and attacked the righteousness which He said came through faith. An interesting parallel is Amos’ prophecy. He told the people their sins would find them out.

The Lord by the prophet warned that the threatened, horrible judgment is not something in the far distant future but has come.  The end has come!

The day of God’s wrath will be terrible and in keeping with their sinful abominations. The wrath will be on all because of their iniquity. 

Yet, the Lord’s gracious purpose will come to pass: “You will know that I am the LORD.” 

7:10-27 - The three securities – wealth, strength, and religion are interwoven in these verses, followed by another declaration, “then they shall know that I am the Lord.”

The end is vividly and fully described. There will be no strength to fight, no escape, no joy, no peace, no business, and no help from religious and civic leaders, only terror and judgment. The end will be complete and for all. Again the Lord reminded them that He is simply dealing with them according to their way and judgment.

In his book on Germany’s guilt, Karl Jaspers calls on the nations to accept what has befallen it as deserved chastisement for the terrible transgression. He urges individual repentance and renewal to make possible the winning of its soul in the hour when it has lost even its independence.

Questions:

  1. Is there a “soul” of America? What must we do to regain it if we have, in fact, lost it?  What do you say?
  1. Does judgment drive people to acknowledge the rule of God?  Some examples that might suggest this, the statement “you own what you reap” e.g. endemic diseases or the result of prolonged drug usage.
  1. How does serious trouble affect people’s relationship to God?
  1. Ezekiel 37:15-28 read it and determine how the message is different from that of chapters 6 & 7.
  2. The “high places” were not in themselves responsible. According to 1 Samuel 9:11-14 what were they used for?
  1. According to 1 Kings 3:2 what were they used for?
  1. According to 2 Kings 23:10 what was going on in the ravines and the valleys in the name of religion?
  1. According to Jeremiah 7:31 what was going on?
  1. According to Jeremiah 19:1-6 what was going on?

Chapters 8 & 9 - Visions of Crime and Punishment

In these two chapters, we have visions of the crime and punishment that Israel will suffer as a result of her idolatry. In chapter 8, we see the affects of Israel’s faithfulness and in Chapter 9 we hear of the sentence that is passed that will bring judgment upon the people who have turned away from the true God.

8:1-18    Up to this point, our attention has been directed to the woes which Ezekiel saw in his visions.  They were to come upon Israel as a result of her idolatrous worship in the high places scattered around the countryside. We now witness a detailed exposure of the sins which are in the center of Israel’s spiritual life beginning at the temple in Jerusalem.   The time is September 7, 591 BC

8:3-5       In this vision, God and His rival, the image of jealousy confront each other. The  glory of the God of Israel and the image of jealousy is presented.

8:1          The hand of the Lord fell on the prophet. The Lord is in charge and is able to give a revelation.

8:2          The Lord appears “in a form that has the appearance of a man” The Lord appearing in somewhat like a human form. The form described.     

8:3          The Spirit took the prophet in vision to Jerusalem to the temple where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. The idol that desecrated the temple with its lascivious rites and acts which provoked the Lord too jealousy.

8:4          The prophet saw the glory of the Lord there. [For other places in Ezekiel where this term is found see Ezekiel 1:28; 9:3; 10:18; 11:23 and 43:2 see also Luke 2:9]  

8:6-13     Ezekiel is told to come into the sanctuary. God brings him to the door of the  court. He sees a hole in the wall. God tells him to dig into the wall. He finds a door and when he enters, he is repelled by the sight of creeping things, abominable beasts and idols. Standing in the room were 70 elders with censers in their hands. {see Exodus 24:1; Numbers 11, 16, 25}

8:6          The prophet in this vision was shown the image of jealousy and the great abominations committed by the people in the temple itself.

8:7-13    The prophet was shown the greater abomination done by the elders in the temple and in its worship – the idols and the unclean animals. They thought the Lord did not see what they did and that He did not care.

8:14-18  Ezekiel proceeds to the north gate. He sees women weeping form Tammuz. This god can be tracked back to the Sumerians to whom he was known as the god of the subterranean ocean.  His companion was his sister knows as Ishtar. When he died, all life on earth languished. He is similar to the Egyptian Syrian god, Adonis who it was believed would come back from the dead through reincarnation.

8:14-15  The prophet was shown the north gate of the temple the women weeping for Tammuz, the heathen god of vegetation.

In verses 16-18 we read of 25 men who were lamenting as the sun was about to sink below the horizon.  This is a reference to the solar rites conducted by many pagan people. In vs. 18 God tells how He will deal with those who provoke Him to anger. The men were worshiping the sun and not the Lord. The Lord asked the prophet whether what he saw was too small a thing for the Lord to do something about. “They put the branch to their nose” either some type of cultic gesture or “Lo, they send forth a stench into My nose.”  Because of these four horrible abominations the Lord will deal with them in wrath, and will have no mercy and hear no prayer.

9:1-11     Here we have a visual demonstration of divine justice. Six angelic executioners are summoned to smite the citizens of Jerusalem. However they are to touch no one upon whom is the mark which a seventh man has implanted on their foreheads. The angelic servant who places the mark was “clothed in linen,” a symbol of acting as God’s representative. (See Revelation 19:8; 14 and Revelation7:3; and Revelation 22;4)

:1-2         The Lord summoned the executioners to come near. Six men come with his weapon for slaughter in his hand. One man clothed in linen came with them with a writing case at his side.

:3a           The Glory of the God of Israel had gone up form the cherubim in the temple to the threshold of the temple – the glory of the Lord is going to leave His temple and the people of Judah.  

:3b-4       The Lord commanded the man clothed in linen to go through the city and place a mark on the forehead of all who sighed and groaned (repented) over the abominations done in the city.

:5-7         The Lord commanded the six executioners to go through the city and slay everyone – old and young – men, women and children – except those on whom is the mark, (see Vs. 4)  The six obeyed and began the slaughter. Note: The Lord does spare those who do repent and believe in Him!

:8-10       The prophet fell on his face and asked: “Lord GOD, will You destroy everyone in Jerusalem in Your wrath?” (v.8)  The Lord points to the exceedingly great guilt of the people, and declares that He will requite their deeds on their heads (Vv. 9-10)

:11          The man clothed in linen reported that he has done as commanded. While the guilty and unrepentant were slain, the repentant believer was saved by the Lord of salvation. The Lord knows them that are His, and He saves them unto eternal life.

Note: This is one reason why the pastor on Sunday morning wears a robe. He speaks God’s Word to God’s people. When we worship we look and listen to the words of the representative not merely the man.

Two problems present themselves sin this chapter. The mark on the forehead and the severity of the judgment. In verse 5 and 6 “Have no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women. Begin at the sanctuary.” 

Ezekiel cries out in verse 8, “Lord God! Will you destroy all that remains of Israel?”  God’s reply in Vs. 9 is clear.

The second problem is the meaning of the mark on the forehead. Interpreters have suggested the mark is placed on those who are to be saved. This seems logical. However, many extreme Pentecostal interpreters have attached other meaning to the mark.

Even the Seventh Day Adventist Church got into the discussion stating that the mark would only be found on those who worship on Saturday. It is apparent from the Revelation Bible passage that the meaning of the mark is not to be thus interpreted.

Chapters 10 & 11 - Jerusalem Burned and Forsaken

10:1-8  Jerusalem Destroyed by Fire

The Glory of the Lord is ready to depart. Jerusalem will be destroyed by fire.

According to 2 Kings 25:8-9 the prophecy was fulfilled. Nebuzaran a captain I n the bodyguard of king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon entered the city of Jerusalem on the 7th day of the 5th month (July 22 of the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and burned the temple.)

The significance of the fire beginning at he temple is that the Jews were convinced that since their God dwelled there, it could not be destroyed.

The contrasting function of fire according to Isaiah 6:1-7 is that in Isaiah’s vision it purified, not destroys.

The place fire has in our worship is in the lighting of candles, and in the Eternal Light and in the Christ Candle. It’s meaning is to remind us of God’s eternal presence, and as a symbol as smoke rises upward, so do our worship and prayers.

Acts 2:1-3 speaks of tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost – the birthday of missions.

Revelation 8:7-10 speaks of the fire that fell form heaven and consumed one third of the earth, one third of the trees, and all the green grass. It was mixed with blood.

All this means is that fire in the Scriptures is either for purifying or destroying. The point for the reader of Scri0pture is to understand the context in which the fire appears in the Bible text.

:1         There appeared the vision of the same described in chapter 1.

:2         The Lord commanded the man clothed in linen to scatter burning coals from between the cherubim over the city. The Lord is about to burn the city.

:3-4      The cherubim were ready to carry the Glory of the Lord away.

:5         The sound of the wings of the cherubim was like the voice of God Almighty. What God’s agents say or do is God Almighty saying and doing.

:6-8      The man clothed in linen obeyed, taking the burning coals and fire, going out to scatter them over the city to burn it. The cherubim are now further described.            

10:9-22            The Cherubim

In these verses we have the four wheels, the cherubim, and the living creatures again described. Very similar as in chapter 1.  The Lord and His agents are free and powerful to go and to do as the Lord determines.

       The Cherubim

Ø      Who are they?

Ø      What is their function?

Ø      What is the relationship to worship and the temple?

Genesis 3:24 – The Cherubim were placed to guard the way to the tree of life.

Exodus 25:18-20 – Golden Cherubim for Ark of the Covenant in the tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:6-7 – The Cherubim spread wings over the ark and the poles. They made a covering for the ark.

Exodus 26:1 – Cherubim designs in the curtains of fine linen that was ‘used for the tabernacle.

2 Chronicles 3:14 – Veil in Solomon’s temple had Cherubim embroidered on it.

Exodus 41:18-20 – Details of the temple call for carvings of cherubim on the doors.

Revelation 4: 6-11 – Creatures, whenever the creatures gave honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne the 24 Elders fall down and worship and cast their golden crowns before Him. These [creatures] have a function different then the Cherubim.

The Cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision are ministers of vengeance, not messengers of grace.

Note verses 18 and 19.  The Glory of the Lord that went from the cherubim in the temple proper to the threshold of the house of the Lord (v.4) now stands over the cherubim at the door of the east gate of the house of the Lord.  The Lord is ready to remove His Glory, but the Glory pauses. The Lord does not act hastily in removing His Glory, His gracious Presence. He removes His Glory only after the people (individual) remain steadfast in their (his or her) iniquity.

The vision was repeated to indicate two important points.

Ø      That this is the action of the Sovereign Lord God

Ø      That this will surely happen.

The event in Chapter 10 showed the need to state again the certainty that what Ezekiel is declaring is going to happen for it is from the Lord.

Our next key chapters to study intently are chapters 33 and 34. Before we visit them a brief explanation of chapters 11 -32 follow.

Chapter 11

Punishment will come, the Lord’s Glory will leave the temple and Jerusalem.  The Spirit of the Lord took Ezekiel to the east gate of the house of the Lord and showed him 25 men – two are named – who represent the princes, and the leaders of the people. These were giving wicked advise and council to the people, namely, that soon would come the time to build homes and that they will in the fire of affliction be kept safe in the caldron. The leaders refused to believe the warning and the word the Lord spoke through Ezekiel. Yet the Lord commanded the prophet to speak the real truth to these leaders.

In this chapter there is a message of hope.

Ø      The Lord will gather His scattered people

Ø      The Lord will cleanse them

Ø      The Lord will give then a new heart and spirit (regeneration)

Ø      They will walk in holiness (sanctification)

Ø      They will be God’s people and the Lord will be their God.

Contrariwise, the Lord will cut off and punish the wicked. As the chapter concludes the Glory of the Lord left Jerusalem and stood on the Mount of Olives. What a disaster for Jerusalem. The Spirit of God in the vision took the prophet back to the land of the Chaldeans. The vision is thus ended.

Chapters 12- 14 – Wrong convictions, false teaching, and hypocrisy is revealed and condemned.

Chapter 12

The Lord revealed that the people’s popular thinking (conventional thinking) was wrong. Judah, its leaders and people will be destroyed. For the benefit of the rebellious house of Judah, the Lord commanded the prophet to perform a symbolic act, namely, to carry out the role of an exile, carrying an exile’s baggage. This symbolic action accurately portrayed what did in fact happen.  By means of another symbolic action, namely, eating and drinking with quaking and fearfulness, Ezekiel, as commanded by the Lord, portrayed that the people of Jerusalem and Judah will eat their bread and drink their water in dismay, as the Lord lays waste the land. The popular thought and saying was that the vision and threat were long in coming and would not happen. But the Lord declared that the Lord’s words would be delayed no longer, but would come to pass in their day.

Chapter 13

The error of heeding false prophets is revealed. Ezekiel identifies and condemns the false prophets in Israel. They had followed their own minds and spirit, but declare “Says the Lord” even though the Lord had not spoken nor sent them. Because the false prophets had misled the people, the Lord will destroy their vain work. Using the imagery of a wall, instead of pointing out the defects of the wall the people were building the false prophets whitewashed it, covered its defects, and cried “peace.” The Lord will send a deluge and hail and wash away their whitewash and show the wall to be defective.

Chapter 14

A visit by certain hypocritical elders was the occasion for a call to repent and for a restatement of the finality of the coming destruction. Certain of the elders had come to Ezekiel in Babylon and had hoped that the prophet would go to the Lord in prayer for them. The Lord declared that He would not deal with any man who kept his idols in his heart – in hypocrisy – and who came to the prophet. Yet the Lord has a word of consolation for the survivor, the remnant. When the prophet sees the believing remnant, he will be consoled for he will see the gracious purpose of all that Lord has done.

Chapters 15 – 17

Both judgment and mercy are proclaimed. Like the wood of the vine the Lord has given the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the fire for fuel. The Lord will make the land desolate because they acted faithlessly. The people will learn that “I am the Lord.”  Israel failed to fulfill the purpose for which the Lord chose the descendants of Abraham.

The Lord had “married” Himself to Judah and supplied her with wealth and finery and blessing and regal state. The people owed their wealth and power and glory to the Lord. Judah was not tempted to be unfaithful, but deliberately played the harlot and misused all her husband’s (the Lord’s) blessings in her unfaithful worship of idols. 

Not satisfied with one lover, Judah prostituted herself with any and all who came along – Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, the Chaldeans – and still was not satisfied, but always eager for more unfaithfulness to the Lord.

By means of an allegory, the Lord reveals the sin of the king of Judah and His people and the coming punishment that is to come. Had the king and the people kept themselves humble and kept the covenant the kingdom would have stood. The king if Babylon (the great eagle) came to Jerusalem and took the king (king Jehoiachin) and princes to Babylon. The king of Babylon took one of royal descent (king Zedekiah) and made him king – making a covenant with him.  But this new king (king Zedekiah) rebelled by seeking help from Egypt. He does not keep the covenant he made. Will he succeed?  The rebellion will not succeed. Because he broke the covenant Zedekiah will die in Babylon. Pharaoh and his armies will be of no help with Babylon besieges Jerusalem. Because Zedekiah failed to keep the covenant he had made his armies will perish and the survivors scattered. When all this happens, the people, the exiles as well as those in Jerusalem, will know that the Lord has spoken.     

The chapter closes with a gracious promise. The Lord assures the believing children of God that He will take a spring, Branch, from the cedar, plant it, and make it prosper and enlarge it.  This promise is fulfilled when the Lord sent His Son to sin on the throne of David – the kingdom of God established. In the dark hours of God’s judgment on rebellious Judah, the Lord assured believing Judah that the Lord will keep all His promises. The certainty? It is the Lord’s doing and He has spoken.

Chapter 18

The just and merciful, forgiving Lord calls for repentance. The Lord declared that the proverb found in Jeremiah 31:29 will no longer be used in Israel. Why? Because all souls – the soul of the father and the soul of the son – belong to the Lord, and the Lord now declares; “The soul that sins shall die.”  The righteous person shall live. Righteousness is defined: righteousness of believing in the Lord, and the resulting righteousness of life. The soul that sins shall die – yet the wicked man who repents shall live.

Chapter 19 – A Lamentation of Dirge, a poem suitable for a funeral, supporting the call t repent is sung.

A lamentation over one of the kings, who is Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah. The Mother is the kingdom of Judah. The “mother” has trained one of the “whelps” or princes to be king. But the king, because of his cruelty and wickedness, was taken captive to Egypt. For details read 2 Kings 23:31-33.

A second lamentation over another one of the kings, namely, Jehoiachin, a son of Jehoahaz and grandson of Josiah. The mother, the kingdom of Judah, disappointed by what had happened, made another price the king.

This king also became guilty of many transgressions and cruelty. He too was taken captive and brought to Babylon as a prisoner, where he remained. For details read 2 Kings 24:8-15.

A third lamentation over the kingdom of Judah and its last king, Zedekiah, a son of Josiah. The “mother” was like a strong vine that had many strong branches or stems who became kings. The “mother” was plucked up and withered in the wilderness, so that there remained no strong stem, no scepter, to rule. As the “mother” was punished, so also was the last king. Verse 14 declares that the cause for both Judah’s and Zedekiah’s downfall came from the victim, from their own treachery and wickedness. They had no one to blame but themselves.

The entire lamentation supports the call to repent by pointing out the wickedness of king after king and of Judah.

Chapter 20

A third visit by the elders (see also chapter 8:1 and 14:1) was the occasion for the Lord by Ezekiel to speak judgment on the people. The judgment was just and deserved. Nevertheless, the Lord revealed His patience and His mercy on the repentant for His Name’s sake. The Lord in the wilderness gave His ordinances regarding the covenant and hallowing he Sabbath as a sign that they knew the Lord to be their Lord and God. But once more they rebelled and profaned the Lord’s Sabbaths. The Lord thought of pouring out His wrath on them; but once more the Lord for His Name’s sake did not.

To chastise them in the hope that they would know that the Lord is the only Lord and God, the Lord on the one hand declared to them that He would scatter them for rejecting His covenant, and on the other hand gave them up to their false and wrong delusions. A horrible judgment of the Lord on hardened sinners is that He sends them strong delusions that deceive them into thinking that they are keeping God’s commands as they commit horrible sins. Note the delusion regarding the way of observing the command in Exodus 13:13b-15.

Chapter 21 – Prophecies of the drawn sword.

The elders had decaled that Ezekiel was a maker of allegories. In chapter 21, the prophet speaks very plainly about a sword that would come on Jerusalem, Judah, and its people.  His point is clear, the Lord will draw His sword form the sheath and bring judgment. The message – the Lord with His unsheathed sword will cut off all – righteous and wicked, from north to south, all. The slaughter will be great. Both righteous and wicked will suffer, as in the case of national disasters and catastrophes. For the wicked it is the day of judgment; for the righteous the day of deliverance into heaven.

Chapter 22 – Jerusalem indicted for her abominable deeds.

The Lord charged Ezekiel to hail Jerusalem as to a courtroom to indict her for her abominable deeds. The summary charges are for offenses against the fellow citizens (shed blood) and against God (making idols to defile herself).  The abominable deeds will result in Jerusalem becoming a reproach and mocking in the eyes of the nations.

When the Lord brings judgment, they will stand convicted and will not have the courage to defy the Lord any longer. They will be scattered and dispersed. They who have profaned the Lord’s Sabbaths will themselves be profaned. Then they will know that the Lord is the LORD.

Since the house of the Lord has become dross to the Lord, the Lord will gather all of them into Jerusalem, where He will treat them as dross in the smelting foundry. There He will blow on them with the fire of His wrath and will cleanse them of their filthiness. They will know that he Lord has poured out His wrath on them.

The Lord declared that He is justified in smelting them in the fire of His wrath because all are guilty of the abominations. The whole land is not cleansed or rained on – a desert unable to sustain life.

The Lord could not fine one who could keep the Lord form destroying the city. Therefore the Lord will consume them, for He has no other choice.

Chapter 23 – By means of an Allegory the Lord tried to bring Judah to repentance.

There were two sisters, who played the harlot. They had the same mother, the same family name: “Ohol.”  Oholah, the older, was Samaria. “Oholibah” means “my tent in her.”  The names call attention that Samaria set up her own tent of meeting, place of worship, and the Lord’s approved place of meeting was in Jerusalem.

The adultery (spiritual) of Oholah, (Samaria) was that she was not faithful to the Lord. Therefore the Lord in judgment delivered her to her lovers, who made her a by-word.

The adultery (spiritual) of Oholibah, Jerusalem, was also due to unfaithfulness. She was worse than her sister. Finally the Lord turned in disgust from her. But the preliminary judgment had to wholesome results; she became worse in her sin.

At the end of the chapter the prophet lists some of the abominations that Samaria and Jerusalem had committed. The innocent bloodshed, the worship of idols, the slaughter of their children in sacrifice, mixing worship of idols and of the Lord, profaning the Sabbaths, persisting in the abominations, the drunkenness and the adultery etc. – the list is extensive.   The Lord by the prophet declared that men will bring righteous judgment on Judah and Jerusalem.  Jerusalem will be an object of terror. Thus the Lord will put an end to the lewdness and the abominations. The people will bear their iniquity, of their sinful idolatry and of their abominable deeds. They will know that He is the Lord GOD.

Chapter 24 – Another allegory and a death – the end is at hand for Jerusalem.

The Lord told Ezekiel that Jerusalem is besieged. The date is the same as 2 Kings 25:1 and Jeremiah 25:4

The Lord told Ezekiel to utter an allegory of the pot over the fire, the boiling water, and all the pieces of flesh and bones put into it. The fire is very hot so that even the bones would seethe in it. No escape for the city is possible as in the days of Hezekiah the king. {See 2 Kings 19:35}

Jerusalem is the pot and its inhabitants are the pieces of flesh and bones. They will be utterly “cooked”! Why? Because of their sins the Lord is bringing vengeance. Even after the pieces of flesh and the bones are taken out – (after the people are taken to Babylon) the Lord has the pot heated so highly that it will melt and all its rust (filthy lewdness) will be removed. Jerusalem will be left a ruin. The certainty – the Lord will do it. He has spoken.

Ezekiel also pays a high price his wife suddenly dies and he is not even allowed to grieve! Her sudden death is used by God as a sign for the people.  

The Lord tells Ezekiel that He would suddenly take away his wife in death and that he was not to mourn. Ezekiel obeyed. When the people asked Ezekiel why he was acting the way he was, he told them that the Lord had commanded him and why. Ezekiel’s action was to be a sign to the people. When the news of Jerusalem’s fall and destruction would come, they would be so amazed that they would not be able to mourn, but they would only groan to one another and pine away in their iniquities.

On the day the news of Jerusalem’s fall and destruction would come, the prophet’s mouth would be opened to speak to the fugitives. The limitations that the Lord had placed on Ezekiel in chapter 3 (vv 22-27) would come to an end. The fulfillment of this prophecy is given in chapter 33 (v. 29).

Chapters 25-32 – The surrounding nations, who were hostile to Judah and Jerusalem, will likewise perish.

One might ask what value are these eight chapters to us today, since they deal with God’s judgment on seven nations who are a part of ancient history and of little interest to us today? Why did the Lord devote, for example, three chapters of His inspired Scriptures to condemnation on Tyre and Sidon, a comparatively small area of the world and of little significance to us?  Furthermore, we have similar prophetic pronouncements against many of these same people in Isaiah 13-23; Jeremiah 46-51; and Amos 1:1-2:3).

The following points need to be considered:

Ø      No nation will be able to interfere with and to defeat God’s plan of salvation to accomplish salvation for all nations through the seed or descendant of Abraham. {Genesis 12:3} The Lord promised plan will come to pass. No power can prevent the coming of the Lord’s Kingdom no destroy it.

Ø      The Lord rules in the midst of the nations. The ruins of past mighty nations who were ruthless and arrogant bear witness to the truth that the Lord God Omnipotent reigns and will judge the wicked. (The day of the Lord.)

Ø      Nations and people will be judged by the Lord for their deeds. Sins against the Lord and sins against the fellow people the Lord God will judge.

Ø      From these chapters and similar chapters in other prophets we learn what these sins are, for which the Lord will bring judgment. We cannot say that we “do not know.”  Ignorance and temporary insanity are not legitimate excuses.

Ø      The believer in the Lord is assured in these chapters that “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.” {see Jeremiah 17:5-7; Psalm 114:15; Psalm 33:12}

Ø      The believing child of God, in the midst of his suffering and chastening, need not be envious of the seeming prosperity of the wicked. (see Psalm 73)

Ø      The perspective of the New Testament can help us. Truly, “they were written for our instruction.” 1 Corinthians 10:6,11 and Romans 15:4

Chapters 33-48 - Repentant and Chastened Israel will be restored and God’s Kingdom will come as promised.

We now come to the 3rd of three major sections in the Book of Ezekiel. This 3rd section is broken down into two parts.

Ø      Chapters 33-39 – A message of restoration

Ø      Chapters 40-48 – The visions presenting the restoration of God’s Temple (the Church) and God’s believing people worshiping therein.

As we read this section, we are to remember:

  1. Prophetic Perspective and Vivid Imagery. As the Lord reveals the blessed future of His people, He uses the concepts with which the people are acquainted, e.g. the Temple Restored (the Lord’s Presence), the Promised Land (the Blessed Future), the Enemies who threaten but are destroyed (the Victory of he Church over its enemies), the River of Salvation (Water of Life coming from the Temple and the Church for all), the old Covenant used to describe the New Covenant, and others.
     
  1. Type and Anti-type. The Chosen People of the Lord who are God’s vehicle in the Old Testament to bring the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham, into the world is a type of the Holy Christian Church. The type and anti-type blend together and at times are difficult to distinguish.
     
  1. The Kingdom of Great David’s Greater Son is not confined to the physical descendants of Abraham and to the limited land of Palestine but is for all people in all places in all ages.
     
  1. If we have difficulty at times understanding the full meaning of the many details, may we remind ourselves that he Lord is seeking to give those at the time of Ezekiel and of us today a panoramic view and picture of the Glory of the Lord and of Salvation unto the end of time and beyond. Many our inability to grasp all the details not keep us from rejoicing in the Lord’s Messiah and His eternal Kingdom. The grandeur of the visions and truths is so great that sometimes we feel that we are overwhelmed.
     
  1. When we have difficulty understanding everything, may we beware of speculation and fantasy. We are to abide by the clear truths of Scripture that guide us in understanding that which is more difficult. 

Chapter 33 - Ezekiel Prophet of Restoration

The prophet’s command of silence, predicted in chapter 3 of this book, now comes to an end. The Lord reminds Ezekiel of the position and of the task he is to carry out as the Lord’s Watchman. Regarding his position and task Ezekiel’s duty as a Watchman did not stop with the destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem.

With only an occasional word of hope, the content of the first 32 chapters of Ezekiel is unremitting judgment. However, beginning with chapter 33 there is a change. The prophet who once spoke only of darkness and death anger and destruction begins the tender words of restoration and renewal! At last, hope!

33:1-9  - The Watchman – As in 3:16-21 we hear these words, “Son of man speak to your people.”  When a prophet speaks, he has a great responsibility. Whether his task is that of doom or restoration, the prophet speaks for God Himself. His first and chief responsibility is faithfulness to God and His Word.

The Watchman who does not announce the Word of the Lord is accountable for the death of the wicked. This is why Paul in writing to Timothy tells us that anyone who desires to be a preacher must first be tested.

The Watchman must have a proper distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel.

Ezekiel is in the time after the destruction of Jerusalem to be a Watchman to the exiled people. Also when the Gospel is to be stressed, he is to emphasize that repentance and righteousness are not group but individual activity. We might call this a re-commissioning of the prophet. See chapters 2 and 3. Both the speaker and the hearer have individual responsibilities.

33:10-11 – A plea for repentance. God is by no means hard hearted. He is showing us by these words not simply wrath but justice. God desires all to be saved, however He can not force people who by their own hardness of heart refuse to repent and believe in Him. {See Ezekiel 18:21-23; John 3:16-18; 2 Timothy 2:4}

33:12-20 – Turn and live!  Ezekiel preaches to those who become convinced in their own minds that they will never see their end come. The only way for these people and in fact for all to escape certain judgment is to turn to the Lord with repentance and faith. {See 33:13 with 18:24; see 33:14-15 with 18:21-22; see 33:17-20 with 18:25-30}

The prophet has to deal with and cope with two responses to the message of restoration. Though the two seem to be opposite, both come from unbelief.

When the exiles, both the old and the new, react with the response that they cannot live because of their sins and God’s chastening, the prophet is to reassure that the Lord does not desire the death of anyone but that all turn to the Lord and live.  This is a grad statement of the Lord’s desire to save all. 

When the exiles declare that the Lord’s ways are not just, the prophet is to point out that the Lord does not desire the death of the wicked and that actually the way of the people is not just. The Lord will judge them according to their ways.

33:21-22 - The turning point. {Read first Ezekiel 3:24-27; 24:25-27.}  The evening before the messenger came, the prophecy was fulfilled. Ezekiel at that point was released from his dumbness. This happened on the 12th year of the exile, the 10th month, the 5th day.

The news of Jerusalem’s fall is received. The Lord opens the mouth of the prophet, and he is not longer dumb. He is now free to speak the message of restoration and is not limited to the message of Law and condemnation.

Note: It took either 18 months according to some Manuscripts or 6 months according to other Manuscripts and some versions for the message of the fall of Jerusalem to reach the prophet. This should not detract from our understanding that the Scriptures are inspired.  A “dyslexic moment” sometimes happens when transcribing one manuscript to another.

The people had been confident that Jerusalem would not be totally destroyed. Once the catastrophe had come the people were reduced to despair while Ezekiel was free to speak. Once the crisis had actually come he knew what he must now say.

33:23-29 – The land robbers. The survivors are now addressed. Now Ezekiel addresses the survivors of the catastrophe of 586, who perhaps were followers of Ishmael, claiming “Abraham was alone when he took the land. Now the land is given to us.” (Vs. 24)

These who had taken the land, who were living with a false sense of confidence, will not get the land “on account of the detestable things” they do. (Vs. 29)

The sins of the survivors in Palestine are the same as those denounced by Ezekiel before the fall of Jerusalem.

The people who escaped in Jerusalem and Palestine and who remained in Palestine arrogantly claimed that they were greater in number than Abraham and they would be heirs of the land of Israel. They made their boast even though they had not repented but had continued in their sins.

To them Ezekiel was to repeat the message of condemnation, stating again their destruction and the desolation of the land.

33:30-33 – The people now hear but they will not do.  Note the warning from the Lord.  “But when it happens and it will happen – then you will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Vs. 33)

Even though Ezekiel continues to call for repentance they will not respond.  “They crowd around and listen to what Ezekiel says…they talk so lovingly…the prophet is to them like a love song.

Remember the words of the explanation to the 3rd Commandment. “We should fear and love God that we might not despise preaching and His Word but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.”

The Lord informs Ezekiel that the message of the restoration does not remove the need for personal repentance. Two groups of people are mentioned. To enjoy the restoration requires repentance by all.

The people who were exiles in Babylon – Ezekiel’s fellow exiles – looked on Ezekiel’s preaching as the entertaining singing of love songs, to which they could listen in amusement and continue in their way of keeping their heart on gain.

To them Ezekiel was to preach that the message of condemnation would come. Thy must respond with repentance and commitment to do what the prophet’s message said. One cannot claim the promise without one’s repenting.

Questions:

  1. According to the prophet, what is the measure of effective hearing?
     
  1. What responsibility does the prophet or preacher have to God and to the hearers?
     
  1. Which is more lively to bring a sinner back to the Lord – some calamity or preaching of the Word?  Why?  Why is it that sometimes neither is effective?  What is our responsibility toward those who suffer and blame God?

Chapter 34 - The Shepherd King

In the Message of restoration the Lord by Ezekiel promises the Lord’s Shepherd and the blessing under the Shepherd King.

Vv. 1-10          Regarding the sinful shepherds.

: 1-2                 The Lord’s Word cam to Ezekiel regarding the shepherds, the political and religious leaders.

: 3-6                 Sin has corrupted the shepherds. The shepherds have abused, exploited, and scattered the sheep, instead of caring for them as a true shepherd should. 

: 7-10               The Lord will send the shepherds into judgment and will rescue His sheep, His people, from the sinful shepherds.

Questions:

  1. According to Vv. 2-3 what were the wicked shepherds guilty of?
  2. According to Vs. 4 what had they failed to do?
  3. According to Vs. 5 what did their neglect cause?
  4. What do all of the following passages tell us? {See Matthew 9:36; Exodus 19:4-6; Psalm 74:1; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 95:7; Psalm 100:3}

Vv. 11-16        He will shepherd His sheep

Instead of replacing the sinful shepherds with other sinful shepherds, the Lord Himself will be their shepherd. He will seek out the Lord’s sheep, gather them out of dark places and from many nations, and bring them to their own land. There the Lord will lovingly care for them.

Since the Messiah was to come from Israel (Judah), the Lord needed to bring the descendants of His Chosen People back to Palestine o that the Lord’s promises would be fulfilled. But the promise of the Restoration is not limited to one people and to one land; it encompasses all of God’s believing people. Israel comes to include all believers in Jesus Christ. The “physical” part of the Old Testament promise regarding the land ends when the Messiah has come.

Notice the many gracious statements describing the love and care of the Lord. The God of the Old Testament is not an angry and vengeful God; He is the One who sent His Son to seek and to save the lost.

Vv. 17-22        Sin’s corruption

Sin had corrupted not only the shepherds but also the sheep. Sin made them mistreat the injure one another; they were inhuman to one another. In the restoration, the Lord will judge them too, so that the Lord’s people, sheep, will no longer be a prey to one another.

Vv. 23-24        One Shepherd

The Lord promises to set up over His sheep the One Shepherd, His Servant David, who will be a prince among them.  The human-divine Shepherd and Prince will feed them. This is Christ, the Good Shepherd.  The promise will be fulfilled – and it was – because the Lord has spoken. We can trust the promise yet today.

Vv. 25-31        A Covenant of Peace

The Lord will make a covenant of peace with His sheep, His people.  They will dwell securely in peace – they will be blessed and be a blessing. In a Paradise Regained and Restored they will dwell as the Lord’s people, as the Sheep of His Pasture. The peace is sure, for the Sovereign Lord GOD has spoken. 

Chapter 35 – God’s and the people’s enemies will not prevent the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise.

The perpetual enmity of a land like Edom, St. Seir, may seem to make the fulfillment of the Promise of Restoration impossible, but the Lord declares that He will destroy Mt. Seir, Edom. The Lord will deal with them according to their anger and envy which they showed against Judah.

Edom, after the destruction of Jerusalem thought that it could take over the country it had always wanted. The Lord instead will make Edom desolate for its reviling against the Lord and against the Lord’s people. They thought that the Lord had left His people that He was not there. (Vs. 10) But they will know that the Lord is there. (See Ezekiel 48:35) the Lord’s people are not given over their enemies to be devoured by them.

Edom is thus denounced. Edom exemplifies and typifies every evil counsel and will that would not let the Lord’s kingdom come. But the Lord will break every evil counsel and will so that the Lord will bring about His kingdom. This is true also today.

Chapter 36 – The message of restoration for the Lord’s people.

In the determination to carry our His plan of salvation – which said that the Messiah would be born of the people of Judah and in Bethlehem – the Lord speaks to the mountains of Israel, which represent the land of Palestine.

The Lord speaks to the mountains of Israel because the enemy has made the land of Judah and its people derision among the nations, saying, that the enemy could claim the land for its own... The Lord will deal with the enemy, exemplified by Edom, and make the nations round about a reproach among the nations. The Lord has made the land desolate but He has not forgotten it and its place in God’s plan of salvation.

The Lord will restore the land – the land will produce must fruit, the Lord’s people will return and inhabit it. The land will no longer be a place where parents are bereaved of their children. The Lord will take away the reproach of the land and make it a “holy” land.

Because the house of Israel has defiled the land by their sins (idolatry and bloodshed), the Lord poured out His wrath on them and scattered them among the nations. The Exile is not an accident that the Lord could not prevent.

Yet the nations misunderstood. They declared that the Lord was unable to protect His people and make them instruments to bless all the nations. The Lord is concerned for His holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned.

The Lord will not act for the sake of the people, but for the sake of His holy name. He will sanctify/vindicate His holy name through the house of Israel. When the Lord proves that He is holy by what He does to Israel, the nations will know that He is the Lord. Grace alone is the motive.   

If such is to happen – God’s plan of salvation to come to pass, and His people made holy – the Lord must bring His people back to their land; and He will. But also two other items must be attended to. Firs, the Lord will cleanse them of uncleanness and idols. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit. (see Jeremiah 31:31-34) This is enable the Lord’s people to dwell in the land in righteousness.

The Lord’s motive is not for their sake, but for His. Therefore, He calls to them to repent of their past wrong ways. When all this has happened, the people round about will know that the Lord has done so. The Lord assures that it will happen. The Lord will give additional blessing that the number of the Lord’s people will increase “then they will know that I am the LORD.” The Lord’s gracious purpose.

Note: In the above section we have spelled out the whole process of regeneration, conversion, sanctification, new life, growth in the number of saints.

What the Lord has promised to believing Israel in the Old Testament describes for us what the Lord does for His believing Israel in the New Testament. The believing Israel in the Old Testament continues as the believing Israel, the Communion of Saints, in the New Testament. 

Chapter 37 - Restoration to Life

In next chapter we are told according to Ezekiel that God’s people would return to the land of promise and be David’s reign forever. Consider this fact in light of 2 Samuel 7:11-16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16

In the restoration believing Israel is revived and unified.

: 1-14  Vision of the Dry Bones in the Valley. Chastened and deflated Israel whose hopes for survival appeared dead in the exile and who might have trouble   believing the message of restoration is told that the Lord is able to make alive a “dead” people, a people dead in sin.

: 1-2     The Lord by the Spirit brings Ezekiel to the Valley/plain full of very dry bones.

: 3        The Lord asks Ezekiel whether the bones can live. See Ezekiel’s answer.

: 4-6     The Lord commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, and promises that the dry bones will live.

: 7-10   As Ezekiel prophesies as commanded, first the bones come together and sinew and flesh come on the bones, and secondly, breath comes into them. The bones live. By the Lord’s doings the dry bones become living human beings.

: 11-14 The Lord makes the conclusion.  As the Lord dealt with the dry bones and made them live, so the Lord will deal with the people of Israel and by His prophetic Word make them alive.  It will happen, for the LORD has spoken.

            Note: What the Lord did here, He continues to do today.  The Lord is able to give life again both spiritually and eternally.

: 15-28 Judah and Israel, two sticks, are united in One Kingdom of God, with the Messiah as King.

: 15-17 The Lord commanded Ezekiel to take two sticks, to write on the one Judah and the house of Israel associated with him, and on the other, Joseph (Ephraim) and the house of Israel associated with him, and to join the two sticks into one in his hand.

: 18-23 When the people ask what is meant, Ezekiel is to explain

1)      That the Lord will gather Judah and Joseph form the nations and make one nation in the land.

2)      That the Lord will give them one king.

3)      That they will not defile themselves any more with idols and with their transgressions.

4)      That the Lord will save them from their backslidings and will cleanse them

5)      That they will be His people and He will be their God. The Covenant of the Lord.

: 24-25 In the restored and united kingdom the Lord’s servant David (the Messiah) will be king forever.

: 26-28 Furthermore, the Lord will make a covenant of peace with them and will set His Sanctuary in their midst forever. The Lord will dwell with them; they will be His people and He will be their God.

            Vv. 26b and 28b speak of the Sanctuary of the Lord being in their midst forever. Chapters 40-48 describe the Sanctuary, the Lord’s dwelling place in their midst. The Lord will be there.

            Note: The above section portrays for us the Unity of the kingdom of heaven, the Church in which Christ rules as King. This prophecy goes beyond the Old Testament into the New Testament, to the end of time to Heaven itself. To limit this and the previous section to Old Testament and Israel in solely a physicals and temporal way is to miss the truths of this chapter.

Chapters 38 & 39 - Restoration to Safety

These two chapters deal specifically with the confederacy led by Gog of the Land of Magog.

These two chapters regarding Gog and his allies answer the question: will the One Nation exist and the One King (King Messiah) rule forever? Or will hostile forces destroy the One Nation and the One King?

As the seven surrounding nations,, chapters 25 – 32, could not prevent believing Israel from returning to the land of Judah, and the Lord from carrying out His Plan to bring a messiah for the world’s salvation, so the world-wide forces of evil in the future will not destroy the Church in the days of the Messiah and the Messiah’s Kingdom of Peace.  The Israel of the future that is open to all races and nations will not be destroyed by wicked forces and kingdoms of the world. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

A literalistic interpretation of these apocalyptic prophecies, rather than a literal interpretation that makes use of the imagery does injustice to all of Scripture.

Chapter 38

: 1-6     The Lord declares that He is against Gog of the land of Magog and all those in league with him. Gog (see Genesis 10:2ff; Revelation 20) Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Bethtogarman represent peoples living in the uttermost part of the north. Persia (east) Cush (south) Put (west) represent people from all other directions.

: 7-9     “After many days”, “in the latter years” refer to the days of the Messiah. At that time the forces of evil, a great and numerous host, will be mustered against the land and people restored.

: 10-13 The Lord prophesies that Gog and all the confederates will devise an evil scheme to seize the people living in peace. Sheba (south), Kedar (east), and Tarshish (east) – all nations of trade and commerce 0 asked about the purpose of the evil forces in the hope of joining in the activities. “Dwell in the center of the earth,” (Vs. 12) – the place from which the Gospel had gone out to all the earth.  

: 14-16 Gog and all the confederate forces will come against the Lord’s people. This is the Lord’s doing, because the Lord will vindicate/sanctify His holiness before their eyes. The entire evil attack and assault on the Lord’s people the Lord will use to show the Lord’s holiness, and that he is the Lord God. 

: 17-23 The Lord will defeat these evil forces.

            The Lord knows about these attacks, since His prophets had predicted them. The Lord sill rise up in anger when Gog and company come against the Lord’s believing Israel.

            The Lord will bring against Gog and company many and great catastrophes that remind us of the cosmic events of the last day of the Lord.  The Lord will show His own greatness and holiness, so that many will know that He is the LORD.

Chapter 39

: 1-6     The Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophecy that the Lord is against Gog. When the Lord has brought the forces of evil against the mountains of Israel (land and people, the believers), the Lord will destroy Gog and his forces. They may think that they are secure, but they are not. They will know that the Lord is LORD. The Lord did not permit His people who dwelt in security and in peace to be destroyed; the Lord acted.

: 7-8     The Lord’s Holy Name will be known and will not be profaned. They will know that he is the LORD. It will happen as prophesied.

: 9-10   The people of Israel will go forth and burn the weapons of war, but it will take seven years. What a vivid way to describe the greatness of the evil forces and the greatness of the Lord’s victory. Those who were to be despoiled by the forces of evil became the despoilers and plunderers of the would–be despoilers and plunderers. 

: 11-16 The Lord appointed a place for burial outside the Holy Land – the Valley of the Travelers, Abiram, the place used by travelers. It will take seven months to bury them all. A systematic search will be made for any bone or body so that the land might be cleansed. A dead body, unburied, makes a land unholy.

: 17-20 The Lord commanded the prophet to speak to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field to feast on the flesh and blood of the slain, a feast prepared by the Lord.

: 21-24 All nations will see the Lord’s glory in all of the Lord’s dealings and judgments.

The nations and Israel will know that Israel went into captivity, not because the Lord could not protect them, but because they had sinned treacherously against the Lord, who therefore hid His face from them and brought them into captivity.

: 25-29 So that no one would thing that all the promises of Restoration were but a utopian dream that would never happen, the Lord told Ezekiel that restoration would begin NOW with the return of Israel to the land of Judah.  

            As these events come to pass, they will recognize the goodness of the Lord’s dealings with them and with the nations. The exile, the return - both will cause them to confess that the lord is the LORD their God. The physical return will be followed by a spiritual renewal, (see Vs. 29)

            Note: These last verses give us increased insight into the Lord’s dealings with His believing people. The Lord is always acting, dealing, working so that more and more people know that He is the LORD.

Chapters 40-48 – “The Lord Is There

Introduction: In this final section we have prophetic perspective, vivid imagery, type and anti- type, some direct prophecy, the Lord’s clear words. We must always remember that the Lord does communicate and that the Word of the Lord is clear and can be understood.

1)      The concept, the truth presented in these nine chapters, a part of the message of restoration, is so great that we have trouble gathering and understanding it. The key to the understanding is the word in Chapter 48:35, “The name of the city henceforth shall be: The Lord is there.”  This truth is often stated in the Old Testament: Habakkuk 2:20; Psalm 11:4; “The Lord is in His Holy Temple.” The Lord uses the concept of the temple to describe that the Lord dwells with and in His Church, His People. The temple thus is a symbol, representation of the Lord’s presence.

2)      We have the same truth in the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. In Revelation 21:3 we read, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with me. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them.” The Savior before His Ascension said, “Lo I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) The truth of the covenant made by the Lord in both Old and New Testaments is the same, “I will be your God, and you shall be My People.” (See Ezekiel 36:28; 1 Peter 2:9, 10)

3)      The Temple described in great detail in these chapters is not something that human beings are to build. It is something that the Lord has created. It is perfect. It is real, not a fantasy.  It is enormous, room for all nations and peoples. It is truly the Lord’s Temple. Revelation 21:2 presents the same truth.

4)      The Glory of the Lord that had left the temple in chapters 11:22, 23 returns to the Temple. Truly “the Lord is there.”  Revelation 21:22 states that he temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. We remember the word of Jesus, John 2:19 and 21; “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…” He spoke of the temple of His Body.

5)      The One in charge of the Temple in Ezekiel is the Prince, chapter 37:8; 44:3; 45:22; 46:10, 12, 18; etc. He is with His people He takes care of His people. What a prophecy of the Messiah, the Christ!

6)      The Prince provides the sacrifice, chapter 45:17 to 46:15. The Messiah did provide the Sacrifice for sin, namely, Himself.

7)      The Lord established, “the Ministry” for the temple – the priests and the sacrifices. A wonderful description of what Christ has provided in the New Testament Church, which is the household of God, God’s Temple, The worship of the believers is indeed God-given.  The ministry of the Church is God-given.

8)     Only the holy and the clean are permitted in the Temple, namely those who are circumcised and who worship the Lord God and serve Him. These are the people of the covenant, who believe in and serve the Lord. Revelation 21:27 states the same truth; “that nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  The rules for the worship in the Temple reveal that the Temple is a holy Temple. Both the Temple and the worshiper are cleansed by the Lord. 

9)      The Lord is the inheritance of the people and the ministry. {see Ezekiel 44:28; 45:1-8; 46:16-18}

10)  The Water flowing in ever-increasing volume from the Temple, Chapter 47:1-12, portrays the Water of salvation of which Isaiah spoke (Isaiah 12:3) and of which Jesus spoke to the Woman at Jacob’s Well (John 4:13,14).  In the Book of Revelation John saw the same river of Water of life; Revelation 22:1,2 (see also Zechariah 18:8)  As the water flowing from the Temple brought life, so the salvation of Christ flowing from the Lord’s Temple brings life everlasting. Where the Water does not reach, there is no life. Christ is the Water of Life.

11)   A Land is provided for all, a Promised Land.  The Lord provides His inheritance for all, for every tribe. Also the aliens, chapter 47:22, 23, are included as native-born sons in the inheritance. In the Lord’s Temple there is a Portion for ALL. In the Lord’s Promised Land the Lord God has a place for ALL.

12)    The arrangement of the Lord for each tribe is perfect and provides ready access to the Lord and His Temple.

Conclusion:  These nine chapters truly bring the message of restoration, a message of hope and comfort, of fellowship with the Lord and salvation for all. Verily, truly, “The name of the city henceforth shall be: ‘The Lord is there.’” A wonderful ending for a wonderful book. We can assure one another “The Lord Be with You,” because the Lord has promised “I will be with you.”

Note: As one reads these nine chapters, let not the many details cause us to miss what the details may tell us. Example: the many times that steps are mentioned tend to give the impression that we are in worship going up to the Lord. There are many such details.

The more one reads these chapters and compares some of the concepts with similar statements elsewhere in Scripture, the greater understanding and grasp one will have of what the Lord is communicating.

The Lord is in His Holy Temple chapters 40-43

Chapter 40 - The Temple of the Lord is shown to Ezekiel and described.

In 572 BC the Lord brought Ezekiel in the visions of God to the land of Israel and showed him a structure like a city, a series of buildings that resembled a large city.

A man, whose appearance was like bronze/brass, appeared with the measuring rod. He commanded Ezekiel to look with his eyes, hear with his ears, and set his mind (full attention) on what he would be shown, so that he could declare to all the house of Israel.

The structure like a city turned out to be the Temple area. A wall surrounded the temple area – a symbol of the Lord’s protection and care.

Verses 6-27 contain a description of the outer court. The symmetry and balanced arrangement portrayed the perfection of the holy habitation of the Lord. Within the inner court were 12 tables needed for the preparation of the sacrifices.

Along the north and south walls were chambers/rooms for the officiating priests. In the inner court stood an altar, described in Ezekiel chapter 43:13-17.

The final two verses of the chapter contain the measurements of the vestibule/porch of the Temple. Note again the steps. The vestibule/porch served as a sort of narthex to the temple proper.

Chapter 41 – The Description of the temple continued.

The vestibule/porch was the entrance to a walled area, containing the nave or “the holy place” and the inner room or “the most Holy Place” into which only the heavenly guide entered. The measurements of the Temple and its area produced perfect symmetry. The ornamentation, decoration of the interior. Very plain – paneled wood with carve likenesses of cherubim and palm trees. In front of the holy place, (vv. 21-23) was “something resembling an altar of wood” – “This is the Table which is before the Lord.”

Chapter 42 – Additional Chambers for the priests, and measurements of the temple area.

Chambers north and south of the inner court. One row faced inward to the courtyard; in them the priests were to eat the most holy offerings and store them. A second row of chambers faced the outer court; in them the priests left the garments in which they ministered and put on other garments before going near the people.

The overall dimensions of the entire Temple area are listed in verses 15-20. These dimensions are symmetrical, perfect square, nothing uneven or incomplete or unharmonious.

Chapter 43: 1-5 - The Glory Returns

The Glory of the Lord that had left the Temple in chapter 11:22, 23 returns to the Temple by the gate facing east. Truly “The Lord is there,” chapter 48:35 

Chapter 43:6-27 – The Lord, Abiding in the Temple Forever Demands Holiness

The One speaking from the temple declares that the Temple is the place where the Lord will dwell in the midst of His People forever. Therefore Israel, His People, is to put away their idolatry and wickedness. Israel is to be cleansed, and therefore to be clean.

Ezekiel is to describe to Israel the Temple in detail so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. The law of the Temple is: The place shall be most holy. “The Lord is in His Holy Temple”; let the ‘people worship’ Him in holiness.

In verses 13-17 the Altar – a focal point of the Holy Worship – is described. {See chapter 40:44-47}

The Altar, built of earthly material and by sinful hands, is to be cleansed and consecrated to the Lord. Only the Levitical Priests of he Family of Zadok are to minister to the Lord at the Altar. The Lord designates who will be His Priests. The basic principle is applicable today also.

Chapter 44 – Regulations Regarding the Sanctuary/Temple

Note: All the regulations indicate that the Lord’s Temple is holy and all those serving and worshiping in it are to be holy. The promise in verse 3 portrays Messiah/ Christ Who is the Head of the Kingdom of God, the Church. {See also chapter 37:25}

The East Gate was shut. The Lord and His Glory had entered the Temple by this gate when He had returned. Only the Lord opens the way to communion with Him.  If we try to open the gate ourselves, we profane the Temple. The Prince, King Messiah, can sit in it, and He provides a way into the Temple.

Ezekiel sees again that the Glory of the Lord filled the Temple. He worships. The Lord impressed on Ezekiel who are admitted and who are excluded.

Activities that bring about exclusion; admitting foreigners/unbelievers, unholy life, false worship, breaking God’s covenant, etc. Only those who repent believe, and live sanctified lives are entitled to admittance to the Lord’s Temple and/or His Kingdom.

Regulations regarding the Levites and Priests who serve in the Temple. Redeemed and reconciled sinners must regard in holy awe the privilege of worshiping and serving the Lord.

Not all members of the tribe of Levi are permitted to serve as priests. Because the Levites had gone astray and worshiped idols with Israel, they are permitted to serve only in the lesser and menial tasks in the Temple. {See 2 Kings 23:5ff}

Only the Levitical Priests, sons of Zadok, who kept the sanctuary when the people went astray, will be permitted to come near to the Lord and serve Him as priests.

The chapter concludes with regulations regarding the lives of the priests. Their dress is to portray their holiness ads being consecrated and set apart for His service. They shall not wear their “ministering” garments among the people. Various regulations are listed regarding” their hair, drinking of wine, their marriages, their duties, their being defiled.

The Holy Lord desires a holy ministry for His holy people. The Lord shall be the inheritance of these priests. They are to be supported by the offerings of the people. They are to eat nothing unclean. 

Chapter 45 – A Holy Portion of Land, Holy Dealings, Holy Offerings and Festivals for the Lord’s Holy Temple.

A Holy Portion of Land/District shall be set aside so that there may be holy and acceptable worship. Alongside shall be a land set aside as a possession for the whole house of Israel.

Note: The Lord provides for all His believing people.

On both sides of the Holy District/Portion of the land and of the city shall be the land for the Prince as His property. The princes (vs. 8) – both civil and religious ministers underlings of the Prince/Christ, shall not oppress the house of Israel, for the Prince and His underlings have their own possessions.

Note: This is a word to the Church and its ministers also today. The princes shall put away oppression and promote righteousness; they are not to abuse God’s people. (Vv. 9-12)

Regarding Offerings. The people in holy worship shall bring offerings to the Prince.  The Prince will provide the offerings to make atonement for the House of Israel. A prophecy of Christ Who provided THE OFFERING FOR SIN.

Regarding Festivals (Vv. 18-24) - The Prince, Vv. 22, 23, 24, 25, will provide the lamb, the goat, the bull, etc. for the sin offering. This Christ has done and of this we are reminded in our religious festivals and in our worship.

Note:

1)      In all these instructions there is no mention of the ark of the covenant. We have the Church of the New Covenant.

2)      We have no mention of the High Priest, for the Messiah/Christ is the High Priest Who once for all brought the one and only Sacrifice. Our worship is reminding ourselves of what Christ, our High Priest, has done.

Chapter 46 – Further Instructions Regarding Festivals and Worship

The gate of the inner court, facing east, will be open on the Sabbath days and the new moor. God’s people have the privilege of coming into the Presence of the Lord. The Prince shall enter and the Priests shall offer Him offerings. The offerings brought by Prince shall be without blemish and bountiful.

When the Prince provides a free-will offering (Vs. 12) the east gate will be opened for Him and for His people.  Christ provides access to the Lord and His Presence. Without Him, the gate is shut.

Daily, regularly there will be an offering provided by the Prince. Even as the offering of Christ is continual, always effective, so our worship is to be continual: seeing His sacrifice always, repenting always, believing always, serving always.

The inheritance that the Prince gives will be of His own.  He will not rob some to give to others. He will reign in justice and righteousness.

The kitchens in the Temple. Here the preparations for the sacrifices and offerings were made. The Lord in His Temple has provided everything needed for His people to worship Him.

Chapter 47 - The Greening of Life's Desert

Water issues from below the threshold of the Temple, from south of the altar, and flows in ever increasing volume, without any tributaries flowing into it. It flows toward the east, finally reaching the Arabah and the Dead Sea. A thousand cubits out, it is ankle deep. Another thousand cubits, it is knee deep. Another thousand cubits, it is up to the loins. Another thousand cubits it is a river so great it cannot be passed. 

Wherever the water flowed, there it brought life and vegetation and great fish. It even made the stagnant waters of the Dad Sea fresh. Where the waters went, there was food and healing. Where the waters did not go, there the marshes and land remained salt and dead.

What a vivid portrayal of the Water of Life going out from the presence of the Lord. Where the Lord comes, there comes Life. (See Revelation 22:1-2; Isaiah 12:3; John 4:13-14)

Christ is the Water of Life. The Lord brings life to the dead, both spiritually and physically (on the last day).  Where He is not, there is only death.

The Lord promises a land for His people. The Lord will keep His promise of land.  The boundaries of the land, is a much larger area than physical Israel and Judah ever occupied.

The land will be divided among God’s people and also the alien, the foreigner in their midst shall share in the inheritance of the Promised Land as natural-born sons!

Note:

1)      There is a Promised Land for God’s Believing People.

2)      The Promised Land has room for all.

3)      Jew and Gentile – everyone shall share in the land equally.

4)      In comfort and hope we by faith look to our Promised Land of Heaven.

Chapter 48 – The Division of the Land

The division is idealistic (stylized) To the north were seven tribes. In the middle was the Holy District/Portion for the Temple and the lands for the Priests, Levites, the City, and the Prince. To the south were five tribes.

This division does not serve as a blueprint for a surveyor.  As the Temple of Ezekiel was not built by human hands but given by the Lord, so the division of the land is not according to human hands and not gained by force of arms but is a gift of the Lord to His people. 

Summary statements regarding the division of the land.

1)      All the Redeemed share alike in the inheritance.

2)      The inheritance is a permanent possession.

3)      All have equal access to the Lord and His inheritance.

4)      The city is a perfect square. It is large.  It portrays the perfection of the City of God, of the Temple of God, The Holy City of the Book of Revelation.

This prophetic message is an assurance to all who trust in God’s promise and in His Son Jesus Christ that they by faith will share “in the inheritance of the saints of life.”  {See Colossians 1:12-14; Acts 20: 32}

Notice that the gates of the city are open to all who trust in God’s omnipotent power and that His love is eternal.

Take notice of Vs. 35b “The name of the city henceforth shall be: The Lord Is There.”

 Sources

The study of the book of Ezekiel was compiled by Pastor Henry Lubben and a number of vicars that served under him in congregations in Illinois.  The class notes were finalized at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rock Island, IL. During the 1981-1982 school year and was taught on Monday evenings in the Fall and Winter of that time period. The study of Daniel and Revelation followed the study of Ezekiel.