November 12

November 12

 

Ezekiel

 

Author: Ezekiel (592-570 B.C.-date of writing)

 

The book was written by Ezekiel…his name means “God strengthens.”  God tells him that He had made him with a strong will (a hard head, 3:8-9).

 

Time written & time covered in history:

 

Ezekiel was of a priestly family (:1:3) and spent his early years in Jerusalem, but was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C. (11 years before Jerusalem was destroyed)…along with King Jehoiachin (33:21; 40:1). He had a wife (24:15-18) and a home (8:1).  His wife died in 587 B.C. (24:16-18).  When he was resettled he lived by the river Chebar (3:15,24, a great shipping canal that branched off of the Euphrates River which was north of Babylon…which he and other Jews probably helped to dig as forced labor) in a village named Kifil, near the city of Tel-abib (50 miles south of Babylon) where there was a Jewish colony (3:15). He was a priest and a prophet in the captivity…a captive ministering to the captives.  He prophesied for at least 22 years (1:2, 29:17-21).  His ministry was during the time of Jeremiah in Palestine, and of the early years of Daniel's ministry.

 

Assyria had captured Israel 120 years earlier…

Date        part of Israel captured              King

734 B.C.  Galilee and north and east Israel Tiglath-pilesar

721 B.C.  Samaria and the rest of Israel     Sargon

701 B.C.  Judah (200,000 inhabitants)        Sennacherib

 

Babylon captured Judah…

Date        part of Judah captured             King

606 B.C.  some captives taken to Babylon  Nebuchadnezzar

*included Daniel

597 B.C.  10,000 captives taken to Babylon

*included Ezekiel (25-years-old at the time)

586 B.C. Jerusalem was burned by Nebuchadnezzar. He could have destroyed it earlier but he wanted tribute money…and, it could be that Daniel had persuaded him to wait.

*God had warned the people that this would happen more than 100 years before (Isaiah 39:6; Micah 4:10).

 

606-536 B.C. The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years… (Jeremiah 25:11-12 had predicted this very amount of time).

  • Daniel had arrived in Babylon 9 years before Ezekiel and had already attained great fame (14:14,20). Daniel lived in the palace and Ezekiel lived in the country.
  • Jeremiah was older…Ezekiel may have been his pupil…they preached very similar messages. Ezekiel preached to the exiles in Babylon and Jeremiah preached in Jerusalem. They both spoke of the certainty of Judah’s punishment for its sins.
  • Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon from 597 to at least 570 B.C. His prophecies began in 592 B.C. and continued for 22 years.

 

Chronology of Ezekiel’s Book

The pivot around which the book centers is the Destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 586 B.C. Ezekiel's prophecies began 6 years before that, and continued 16 years afterwards, covering a period of 22 years. Until Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel was unceasingly predicting that 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).

His visions, with minor exceptions, are given in chronological sequence. The years are dated from king Jehoiachin's Captivity, which was 597 B.C. The "30th year" (1:1), which was the equivalent of the "5th year" of Jehoiachin's captivity (1:2), is thought to have been the 30th year of Ezekiel's life (age at which Levites began their service [Numbers 4:3]: Jesus and John the Baptist began their work at 30). Or, it may have been the 30th year in the Babylonian calendar of Babylon's independence of Assyria, won by Nebopolasar 625 B.C.

 

Dates of Ezekiel's visions are as follows:

Chapter 1:2      5th year     4th month      (July)            5th day      592 B.C.

Chapter 8:1      6th year     6th month      (Sept)           5th day      591 B.C.

Chapter 20:1     7th year     5th month      (August)       10th day     590 B.C.

Chapter 24:1     9th year     10th month    (January)      10th day     587 B.C.

 

The siege of Jerusalem began in the 9th year, 10th month, 10th day

Chapter 26:1     11th year   5th (?) month (August)       1st day      586 B.C.

Chapter 29:1     10th year   10th month    (January)      12th day     586 B.C.

Chapter 29:17   27th year   1st month      (April)           1st day      570 B.C.

Chapter 30:20   11th year   11th month    (April)           7th day      586 B.C.

Chapter 32:1     12th year   12th month    (March)        1st day      584 B.C.

 

Jerusalem Fell in the 11th year, 4th month, 9th day

Chapter 32:1     12th year   12th month    (March)        1st day      584 B.C.

Chapter 32:17   12th year   12th (?) month (March)      15th day     584 B.C.

Chapter 33:21   12th year   10th month    (January)      5th day      584 B.C.

Chapter 40:1     25th year   1st (?) month (April)           10th day     572 B.C.

 

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, till the next date is mentioned.

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, pp. 324-325

 

Doctrinal Theme(s):

 

“The word of the Lord came to me” occurs 49 times.  Ezekiel was convinced that God had spoken to him and told him what to say.

 

“The glory of God” is a key phrase…occurring 12 times in the first 11 chapters…and then not occurring again until chapter 43.

 

In the Old Testament the glory of God refers to the light that shone between the cherubim in the holy of holies as the evidence of the presence of God. Ezekiel opens with this heavenly glory in the vision (chap. 1).  The book ends with earthly glory (chaps. 40-48).  Ezekiel’s visions given in between tell of the departing of this glory (9:3).  First it left the cherubim for the threshold of God’s house (10:4), thence to the east gate (10:18-19), and finally clear away from the Temple and city to the Mount of Olives (11:22-23).  Thus gradually, reluctantly, majestically, the glory of the Lord left the Temple and Holy City.  Then captivity came.

What the Bible is All About, Henrietta C. Mears, 245

 

In a vision of the distant future the “glory of God” returns (43:2-6) and fills the house of the Lord (44:4).  Had Messiah been accepted at His first coming, Jesus would have entered through this same eastern gate.  However, when He was rejected, and He departed through it (Matthew 21:12-17).

 

“You will know that I am God” is a primary theme…occurring 65 times, in 27 of 48 chapters.  Ezekiel’s intent often was to explain why God would cause or permit Israel’s captivity.  By their punishment Israel would come to know that He is God.  The Babylonian captivity cured the Jews of idolatry.

 

Ezekiel is called “son of man” 93 times…an emphatic form of “man” to remind him that he was mortal.  This phrase is used of the Messiah (Daniel 7:13), Jesus (John 1:14)…revealing that while He was fully God, He was also fully man.

 

Visions and symbolic actions characterize this book.  He also used parables  (17), object lessons, poems (19), proverbs (12:22-23; 18:2), and prophecies (6; 20; 40-48).  His visions, with minor exceptions are dated chronologically from the date that King Jehoiachin was taken captive in 597 B.C.  Some of the symbolic actions were accompanied by personal discomfort and suffering (he wasn’t allowed to speak for a long time-3:26;24:27;33:22; he had to lie on his side in one position off and on for over a year-4:5,6; he had to eat bad food-4:15; his wife that he loved suddenly died and he was not allowed to mourn-24:16-18).

 

Outline:

 

Subject/Theme                                                         Chapter

There’s a Prophet Coming                                       Ezekiel 1-3

Ezekiel 1:1-3      Ezekiel’s Situation in Babylon

Ezekiel 1:4-28    Ezekiel’s Vision of God

Ezekiel 2-3         Ezekiel’s Call & Commissioning

There’s a Judgment Day Coming on Judah             Ezekiel 4-24

Ezekiel 4-5         Prophecies of Judgment through Object Lessons

Ezekiel 6-7         Prophecies of Judgment through Sermons

Ezekiel 8-11       Prophecies of Judgment through Visions

Ezekiel 12-24     Reasons & Certainty of Judgment through Object Lessons, Messages, a Proverb, and Parables

There’s a Judgment Day Coming on the Nations     Ezekiel 25-32

There’s a Restoration Day Coming to Israel            Ezekiel 33-48

Ezekiel 33-39     Israel’s Restoration During the Tribulation

Ezekiel 40-48     Israel’s Adoration During the Millennium

 

Ezekiel 1-3

 

There’s a Prophet Coming                                       Ezekiel 1-3

 

Ezekiel 1:1-3          Ezekiel’s Situation in Babylon

 

Ezekiel 1:1-"the thirtieth year" was possibly Ezekiel's own age, and the age at which he would have entered the priesthood had he remained in Jerusalem (Num. 4:3).

Ezekiel 1:2-"the fifth year"...592 B.C.

Ezekiel 1:1,3-Ezekiel says "the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God", "the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel...the hand of the LORD came upon him".

 

Ezekiel 1:4-28        Ezekiel’s Vision of God

 

For a detailed explanation of the cherub and this vision of Ezekiel see:

Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Ezekiel 1,

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Eze/Eze_001.cfm?a=803005

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Ezekiel 1,

http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ezekiel-1.html#15

 

Ezekiel 1:4-14-the "four living beings"

 

Cherubim

In this vision “four living creatures” appear, having unusual faces, but each with the general appearance of a man. The main purpose of the vision is twofold—to commission Ezekiel for service, and to impress upon him the need for assimilating the words God spoke to him and giving them to the people.  Note “the roll of a book” which he ate in his vision (3:1). The unswerving obedience to God’s will of the creatures symbolized the obedience expected of Ezekiel.  Their movement as a single unit is the picture of God’s will perfectly executed.

What the Bible is All About, Henrietta C. Mears, p. 248

 

1:5 four living beings. Identified as cherubim (10:15,20…).  The cherubim are an order of angels, concerned with guarding the holiness of God.  They guarded the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24), and a representation of them was fastened to the Mercy Seat of the Ark (Exod. 25:18-22).  Satan was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:14,16).

The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Ezekiel 1:5, p. 1227

 

Ezekiel 1:15-21-the four “wheels”

 

The four wheels represent the sovereign will of God being performed, or carried out, through the cherubim.  Their ability to move in any and all directions represents God’s absolute supreme power and control.  Everything, in every direction, being under His authority.

 

Translate it: “one wheel upon the earth by” each of “the living creatures” on his four sides (i. e. on the four sides of each of the living creatures). There was a wheel to “each” of the living creatures: it was set “by,” i. e. immediately “beneath” the feet of the living creature, and was constructed for direct motion in any of the four lines in which the creatures themselves moved. Their “work” or make, i.e. their construction, was “a wheel in the middle of a wheel;” the wheel was composed of two circumferences set at right angles to each other, like the equator and meridian upon a globe. A wheel so placed and constructed did its part alike on each side of the living creature beneath which it stood.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, Ezekiel 1,

http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ezekiel-1.html

 

  1. The dispensations of Providence are compared to wheels, either the wheels of a chariot, in which the conqueror rides in triumph, or rather the wheels of a clock or watch, which all contribute to the regular motion of the machine. We read of the course or wheel of nature (James 3:6), which is here set before us as under the direction of the God of nature. Wheels, though they move not of themselves, as the living creatures do, are yet made movable and are almost continually kept in action. Providence, represented by these wheels, produces changes; sometimes one spoke of the wheel is uppermost and sometimes another; but the motion of the wheel on its own axletree, like that of the orbs above, is very regular and steady. The motion of the wheels is circular; by the revolutions of Providence things are brought to the same posture and pass which they were in formerly; for the thing that is is that which has been, and there is no new thing under the sun, Eccl. 1:9, 10.
  2. The wheel is said to be by the living creatures, who attended it to direct its motion; for the angels are employed as the ministers of God's providence, and have a greater hand in directing the motions of second causes to serve the divine purpose than we think they have. Such a close connexion is there between the living creatures and the wheels that they moved and rested together. Were angels busily employed? Men were busily employed as instruments in their hand, whether of mercy or judgment, though they themselves were not aware of it. Or, are men active to compass their designs? Angels at the same time are acting to control and overrule them. This is much insisted on here (v. 19): When the living creatures went, to bring about any business, the wheels went by them; when God has work to do by the ministry of angels second causes are all found, or made, ready to concur in it; and (v. 21) when those stood these stood; when the angels had done their work the second causes had done theirs. If the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, were elevated to any service above the common course of nature and out of the ordinary road (as suppose in the working of miracles, the dividing of the water, the standing still of the sun), the wheels, contrary to their own natural tendency, which is towards the earth, move in concert with them, and are lifted up over against them; this is thrice mentioned, v. 19-21. Note, All inferior creatures are, and move, and act, as the Creator, by the ministration of angels, directs and influences them. Visible effects are managed and governed by invisible causes. The reason given of this is because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels; the same wisdom, power, and holiness of God, the same will and counsel of his, that guides and governs the angels and all their performances, does, by them, order and dispose of all the motions of the creatures in this lower world and the events and issues of them. God is the soul of the world, and animates the whole, both that above and that beneath, so that they move in perfect harmony, as the upper and lower parts of the natural body do, so that whithersoever the Spirit is to go (whatever God wills and purposes to be done and brought to pass) thither their spirit is to go; that is, the angels, knowingly and designedly, set themselves to bring it about. And their spirit is in the wheels, which are therefore lifted up over against them; that is, both the powers of nature and the wills of men are all made to serve the intention, which they infallibly and irresistibly effect, though perhaps they mean not so, neither doth their heart think so, Isa. 10:7; Mic. 4:11, 12. Thus, though the will of God's precept be not done on earth as it is done in heaven, yet the will of his purpose and counsel is, and shall be.

Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Ezekiel 1,

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Eze/Eze_001.cfm?a=803005

 

Ezekiel 1:22-28-the throne of God

 

Ezekiel saw an “expanse” or platform above the cherub.  On the platform was a throne with the LORD in His glory seated upon it.

 

All the other parts of this vision were but a preface and introduction to this. God in them had made himself known as Lord of angels and supreme director of all the affairs of this lower world, whence it is easy to infer that whatever God by his prophets either promises or threatens to do he is able to effect it. Angels are his servants; men are his tools. But now that a divine revelation is to be given to a prophet, and by him to the church, we must look higher than the living creatures or the wheels, and must expect that from the eternal Word, of whom we have an account in these verses. Ezekiel, hearing a voice from the firmament, looked up, as John did, to see the voice that spoke with him, and he saw one like unto the Son of man, Rev. 1:12, 13. The second person sometimes tried the fashion of a man occasionally before he clothed himself with it for good and all; and the Spirit of prophecy is called the Spirit of Christ (1 Pt. 1:11) and the testimony of Jesus, Rev. 19:10.

Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Ezekiel 1,

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Eze/Eze_001.cfm?a=803005

 

Ezekiel 2-3             Ezekiel’s Call & Commissioning

 

Ezekiel 2:1-2-When Ezekiel saw the LORD he fell on his face. Then the Spirit told him to stand up…and “set me on my feet”.

 

2:1 Son of man.  An emphatic form “man,” occurring 93 times in the book to remind Ezekiel that, in contrast to the majestic God, he was merely a mortal man.

The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Ezekiel 2:1, p. 1228

 

Ezekiel 2:3-7-Then the Spirit told him, “I am sending you,” to the people of Israel with a message to deliver. He was to do so, whether they listened, or not.  And, the Spirit told him that he should not be afraid.  Then they will know “that a prophet has been among them”.

Ezekiel 2:8-10-He gave him a scroll and told him to eat it.  Written on the front and the back of the scroll were "lamentations, mourning and woe" (:10).

Ezekiel 3:1-11-When he ate the scroll it tasted sweet...(Ryrie) "In digesting God's message, Ezekiel found it sweet to yield to the will of God (v. 14 and John's experience in Rev. 10:8-11)."  He was again told to not be afraid, and to deliver the message regardless of whether they listened, or not.  God told him that He had made his head harder than the people's...he would have stronger will, than they would.

Ezekiel 3:12-14-The living beings transported him to where the exiles were.

Ezekiel 3:15-21-Ezekiel sat among them for seven days...this caused them great concern.  Then God spoke to him and told him that He will hold him responsible for telling, or not telling, the people what He says.

Ezekiel 3:22-God tells him to go out into the plain.  There, he saw the glory of the LORD, again.  God told him to shut himself up in his house.  The people put restrictions on his public ministry...but he still did so in his own home.

 

Prayer: Father, I long to see Your glory…unhindered.  Unhindered by this frail body of flesh.  Unhindered by these eyes that see only the things of this world.  Unhindered by the scars of sin on my heart.  Unhindered by the weakness of my mortal mind.  Unhindered.  To see You in all of Your glory.  To know You in all of Your glory.  To worship You in all of Your glory.  Lord, I long to see You…unhindered.  And when I do…to fall at Your feet and to hear Your voice.

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