Bible Commentary Bible History General Theology

What is Israel’s hope and future? Exploring the prophet named Ezekiel

OVERALL:

  • Ezekiel was called The Exile Prophet of Hope, for he wrote to The Jewish Exiles in Babylon concerning hope for the future of the Israelite Nation.
  • He was one where he wrote in a cause-effect pattern, where he talked about the judgment and sins of Jerusalem for the first half for the book of Ezekiel, and then talked about returning to the land and the new age for the other half.
  • His pattern of writing had to do with showing what the problem is, and what the Lord will do to bring hope to the people!

The background of Ezekiel

He had quite an impressive status, which was an aristocrat of Jerusalem, a descendant from Zadok’s line. He was a proud and confident person as he looked to the future of the Priesthood, involving God’s chosen people. He was called one of the most influential men, and was greatly influence by the preaching of Jeremiah and the reform of Josiah.

As far as personal abilities were concerned, he was an utterly helpless one before the might God who controlled him, for his whole philosophy and utterances were colored because of the Hand of God upon him and vision of “God’s Glory.” He was also a “Mediator” and in deep thought usually. Sometimes harsh, bold, or blunt – he was also uncompromising. He was a man of deep convictions, with a fearless determination, and housed a heart deeply sympathetic with abiding love for his people who needed a pastor – someone to shepherd them back to the Lord (and hope). His education comes through as a careful planning scenario and an orderly dating of all his writings. He outlined things well, and helped many people through his writings.

He was a married man, but his wife died the year of when the final siege of Jerusalem began.  His wife was apparently a symbol of the Temple, as he began a very picturesque, but powerful ministry at 35 – after his captivity in Babylon. At this time, Jeremiah was approaching the end of his valiant, but tragic career.

Now, for the call of God on his life, God laid his hand upon Ezekiel just as he did Jeremiah, and he felt it. He was called to the lonely exiles on the riverbanks of Chebar. In a dramatic way, he describes for us his vision and call to service, which was a vision of God’s glory. In this vision, he beheld the “Glory of God,” and “felt” the Hand of the Lord. He even saw the likeness of God’s being and fell upon his face. A voice spoke to him commissioning him. He received several commissions overall, which had much to do with returning unto God and beholding His Glory.

Historical background of Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, we see the people in constant turmoil. Jehoiakim is succeed by his son, who reigned only three months before going to captivity in Babylon along with many others in Judah. Ezekiel was taken in this group along with 10,000 other captives. Zedekiah was left on the throne in Jerusalem as the agent of the Babylonian government, and Jeremiah was the preacher still in the Holy City of Jerusalem to carry God’s message to the people.

Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar returned to put down the rebellion of Zedekiah and take the rest of the people to join the exiles by the river Chebar. Many things were destroyed in Jerusalem, and others were taken away to captivity, to which, Jeremiah’s prophecy had happened. In Babylon, conditions were just as horrible. We see Daniel and a few other Jewish boys come in 605 BC, and Ezekiel and the upper class brought in 598 BC. For several years, ten thousand exiles lived in a concentration camp in Babylon, while Ezekiel and the upper class of people carried on in Jerusalem.

For five years, the captives had no preacher of priest to help them. In this dark hour, Ezekiel hears the call of God and began to serve. For six years, he wanted to break down false hopes of an early return to Palestine, and wanted to prepare the captives of the bad news of the destruction of the Holy City. The Jewish people were in a darkened state with their Temple gone, and very little opportunity for business – false prophets were abundant. Complaints and murmurs, among wails filled the air. Ezekiel dealt with many different kinds of people, particularly negative people.

Ezekiel’s ordeal (his mission)

His mission was clearly revealed by God as the Spirit entered into him and cleansed him of bitterness. He had a revelation of the “Glory of God” to which he was to destroy false hopes of an early return to Jerusalem, interpret the meaning and purpose of the exile to gather up and preserve the teachings of Historians, Psalmists, and Prophets, to organize new forms for worship and life in the restored community, to preserve Israel’s soul in Babylon, and to stimulate new hope for the future Israel. He was to be an effective watchman also in the dark days of captivity. His message was that before they could even hope to return to Jerusalem, they had to return to the Lord.

New Testament fulfillment

  • Israel’s restoration as a nation as they await their Messiah (34:11-31; 36:1-15, 23-38; 37:1-28)
  • The Battle of Armageddon at the return of Christ (38:1-39:20)
  • Rebuilding of the Temple by the Messiah for Millennial and eternal worship (40:5-43:12)
  • The Millennial (1000 years) and eternal river from the Temple spoke about in The Book of Revelation (47:1-12)

Practical things Ezekiel communicated to help all people

  • The heart of God wants His People back, and He longs for their return unto Him.
  • Each person is responsible for their own sins, and therefore, are subject to consequences individually.
  • Each minister that is called is subject to their own troubles, but they cannot let that stop them from continuing the work of the Lord.
  • Love must be expressed in everything we do.
  • Repentance is important and makes alive the reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Good godly conduct and behavior should emanate through us on a normal basis.

Do you see the similarities in what the New Testament authors, apostles, disciples, etc. tried to communicate compared to Ezekiel? Yeah, almost every one of these match.

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