Ezekiel means God is strong or God will strengthen. A favourite phrase used by God to address Ezekiel is “son of man,” used over 90 times in this book (later this title was used by Jesus for Himself).
Ezekiel was God’s prophet to the exiles in Babylon. He ministered to God’s people while a captive. During that time Jeremiah was prophesying to the people in Jerusalem and Daniel was in the royal court of Babylon which was around 50 miles from the place Ezekiel lived. Bible Scholars believe that perhaps Ezekiel and Daniel would have met each other many times.
The Book of Ezekiel needs to be understood in context. It contains a message delivered to God’s people in exile. Ezekiel himself was carried into exile in 597 B. C. Ten years before this, Daniel was taken into exile and by God’s mighty hand was raised to play an important role in the Babylonian court.
So while Ezekiel reached Babylon, Daniel was already in the court. Ezekiel was around 25 years old when he was taken to Babylon. Then God’s call as described in Chapters 2 and 3 came to him when he was around thirty. According to the Jewish law, priests (Ezekiel was from the priestly line) started their service at thirty.
The first 24 chapters of Ezekiel describe God’s judgement to come on Jerusalem. When Ezekiel started his prophetic ministry Jerusalem had not fallen. His message to the people was that God would destroy Jerusalem because of the sins of God’s people. He wanted the people not to entertain false hopes that they would be delivered from captivity quickly. Jeremiah in a letter to the exiles had said the same thing (see Jeremiah 29).
I Great Themes
The Glory of God:
Ezekiel abounds in visions of God. They portray to us the glory of God in an awesome manner. “The `glory of God’ seems to be the key phrase to Ezekiel. It occurs twelve times in the first eleven chapters. Then it does not occur again until chapter 43.
The `glory of the Lord’ was grieved away from the Temple at Jerusalem by the idolatry of the people. God says, `Because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favour; I will not look on you with pity or spare you” (Ezekiel 5:11).
In Ezekiel 8, we see Ezekiel in a vision transported to Jerusalem and he sees four kinds of idolatry that were practiced in the courts of the Lord’s house, even worshipping the sun, with their backs to the sanctuary while their faces were to the East. We see the `glory of the Lord’ gradually grieved away from the inner sanctuary by the sin of idolatry, and the brightness filled the court. Then it departed to the threshold and rested over the cherubim. As the cherubim rose from the earth, `the glory of the Lord’ abode over their pinions and mounted with them, forsaking the city and removing to the mountains (Chapter 10).
This is just what can happen to us. We can grieve the Holy Spirit and resist Him until He is quenched and our heart becomes like a ruined temple bereft of its glory (see Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19). There are so many blighted Christian lives from which the radiance has gone through disobedience.
We grieve the Spirit when we do not allow ourselves time to read the Word or pray. We limit the Spirit when we refuse to be clean vessels through which He can work. We resist Him by allowing idols to be in our hearts. Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). Does His presence glow in your life?
“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 (Chapter 1). The book ends with earthly glory (Chapters 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.” — Taken from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
The Grandeur of God:
“In describing his call by God, Ezekiel groped for words. He portrayed a God of stunning grandeur, above and beyond our world. Yet this supernatural God was inescapably near and real. He demanded complete obedience. Surprisingly, he appeared to Ezekiel in Babylon—the last place an Israelite expected to see Him. This God could not be locked in by national or geographical boxes. He ruled the earth.
Ezekiel repeated this classic message over 60 times: `Then they will know that I am the LORD.” God said it when promising the destruction of Jerusalem in the first 24 chapters. He said it when predicting the downfall of Israel’s neighbours in chapters 25 through 32. And, after Jerusalem had fallen. God said it when promising a great future in the last 16 chapters. God did not want to remain vague or far off. He wanted his people to know him. More, Ezekiel’s God wanted to live with His people. He wanted to make His home in the centre of their city.” — Taken from Introduction to Ezekiel, Family Devotional Study Bible.
The Word of God:
“ `The word of the Lord came to me’ (Ezekiel 24:15). This phrase occurs forty-nine times in Ezekiel. God’s greatest communications can only be made by his servants whose own hearts have been broken. The instrument in God’s hands must personally be ready to share in suffering with others. Jesus’ body was broken for us. . . . The prophet’s authority is suggested by the symbolic swallowing of a scroll. He must make the message his own. He must eat it (Ezekiel 3:3). Bitter as its contents were to his mouth, they were as sweet as honey, for it is sweet to do the will of God and to be trusted with tasks for Him.” – Taken from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
II Structure of the Book
The Book of Ezekiel contains a record of the prophet’s life and prophecies dating from 590 B. C. to 570 B. C. Ezekiel has dated almost all the visions and prophecies given to him with precision.
● Chapters 1—24:
They mainly deal with prophecies given before 586 B. C. at which time Jerusalem fell. In these chapters Ezekiel tells the people that the fall of Jerusalem was sure to come and it was a richly deserved judgement on them. News of the fall reaching Ezekiel, and God opening his mouth so that he was no longer mute is recorded in 33:21, 22.
● Chapters 25—32:
These chapters contain prophecies of judgement on surrounding nations. These prophecies came true to the minutest detail in later years. If you carefully read these sections the one common reason for judgement against these nations was how they treated the nation Israel with contempt (see 25:3, 6, 8, 12, 15; 26:2).
Two prophecies make interesting reading for us:
One, against Tyre given in 586 B. C.; the year Jerusalem fell (see 26:1). God declared through Ezekiel that Tyre (one of the great maritime powers in ancient history from 12th century B. C. to 6th Century B. C. renowned for its splendour and fabulous wealth) would become a place to spread fishnets (Ezekiel 26:5, 14). In chapter 27 Tyre is pictured as a Majestic Ship about to be destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre the very next year (585 B. C.) and it took him 13 years to conquer the city. Later it was completely destroyed by the Persians and Alexander the Great in 332 B. C. Now it is indeed a place to spread fishnets!
Note: Some Bible Teachers find symbolic meaning in the King of Tyre in the section Ezekiel 28:11—19 as being a description of Satan and his fall. They also read this section along with Isaiah 14:3—20 where the destruction of the King of Babylon (again considered to be symbolically taking about Satan) is described.
Second, the prophecy against Egypt which has also proven to be historically accurate. Once a mighty kingdom ruled by Pharaohs; Egypt lost its dominance in later years. This loss was precisely prophesied by Ezekiel. Pictured as a Great Crocodile lying in the streams (29:3 `you great monster lying among your streams’); the crocodile being one of the gods of Egypt and found in the Nile. Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt and ever since it has played a very minor role in World History.
It has remained `a lowly kingdom’ (29:14, 15) ever since they came back from captivity at the time of the Persians. Moreover God said that Egypt will never again be a source of confidence for the people of Israel (29:16). This was because throughout Israelite history we find their kings trusting in the kings of Egypt during times of crisis and seeking help from them rather than the God of Israel.
● Chapters 33—39:
They come after the fall of Jerusalem. These chapters encourage the captive people to repent of their sins and become a new community with a resurrection experience (see Ch. 37) and with a new heart and new spirit (36:26) serve their God. God promised the people a national revival when the two nations of Israel and Judah will become one and will be shepherded by King David; i.e. the Messiah. National blessing is promised as showers of blessing coming down in season (34:26).
● Chapters 40—48:
These chapters look forward to a time in the future when the temple will be rebuilt and God would dwell with His people. The name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE (Ezekiel 48:24). “The name of the city, given in the very last verse of the book (Eze. 48:35), is not Jerusalem, or Zion, but Yahweh Shammah, Hebrew for `The Lord is there.’ ” — The Preacher’s Commentary. [Note: Most Bible versions give the translation rather than the Hebrew].
III Ezekiel—A Watchman
God’s call came to Ezekiel appointing him to be a watchman to the house of Israel. Watchman can be understood as a “lookout” too. In Ezekiel 3:16—21 and 33:1—20 we find this explained. The role of a watchman is to warn the people of coming judgement.
This involved awesome responsibility. If Ezekiel failed to warn and people died in their sin as a result, God would hold Ezekiel accountable for their blood. We too have a great responsibility given to us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18—20).
It is a very personal responsibility. Paul was so conscious of this responsibility that he said, “I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26) as he had communicated to the people the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness.
Ezekiel’s task was difficult because God warned that His people would not listen because they were a rebellious house. But God wanted him not to be afraid of them and wanted Ezekiel to communicate faithfully what God told him whether the people listened or failed to listen (3:4—11).
Note: A related theme is explained in 22:30 where God said: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (NIV). This points out to us the importance of interceding for others in prayer. God often relents from sending disaster when God’s people pray for the salvation of others.
Standing in the gap brings to our mind a break in the wall in which a man stands so that the break would not allow others to get in and destroy. Such an image is used of Moses who interceded for God’s people (see Psalm 106:23). You too can do the greatest work for God when you stand in the gap and intercede for others.
IV Ezekiel—A Sign
Being a prophet of God was never easy for Ezekiel. God told the people that “Ezekiel will be a sign to you” (24:24/see also verse 27b). This was the climax of all that Ezekiel was asked to do by God: Just before Jerusalem fell God told Ezekiel that He was going to take the life of his wife who was the delight of his eyes. But Ezekiel was asked not to lament or weep or shed any tears. He was not permitted to mourn.
Ezekiel told this to the people in the morning and in the evening, his wife died. The message was that God was about to destroy Jerusalem and the temple, the pride and delight of the people. And like Ezekiel they would not be given any chance to mourn.
Earlier, God had asked Ezekiel to do some extraordinary things so as to get the attention of the exiles to focus on God’s coming judgement on Jerusalem. He was asked to shut himself inside his house (3:24) where he was to be bound by ropes and unable to speak; he had to lie on his side for more than a year (4:4—8); he had to eat food by weight in a rationed fashion (4:10, 11); he had to shave his head and his beard; he had to strike his hands together and stamp his feet (6:11); and also had to remove goods from his home, carry it on his shoulders and dig through the wall to demonstrate how the people would be going into exile from Jerusalem (12:3—7).
V Ezekiel’s Visions
Ezekiel was given many VISIONS to communicate God’s message. The following are the important visions recorded in this book.
# Vision of God (Chapter 1)
The Book opens with Ezekiel having visions of God. In these visions, Ezekiel first sees cherubim. They are angelic beings mostly concerned with the government of God on earth as we understand from other passages in the Bible. These creatures had four faces and four wings.
Their appearance was awesome and full of fire. Beside each of these creatures they had wheels on the ground which moved and rose along with the movement of the cherubim. The unmistakable impression given through this vision is the unity of purpose and prompt readiness of these divine creatures to obey God’s will and execute it.
At the point when these creatures stood with lowered wings and stood still there came a voice from above the expanse (which was sparkling like ice and awesome) over their heads. Above this expanse was a throne on which was the figure like that of a man (1:26).
This is the Son of God, who later would become man. What amazing grace and humility of God to identify with man like this when He is shown as man on the eternal and holy throne of heaven! Brilliant light surrounded Him (see 1 Timothy 6:16). There is a mention of rainbow (see Revelation 4:3) which reminds us of God’s covenant with Noah.
# Vision of the Glory of God and Godlessness of the People (Chapters 8 to 11)
Ezekiel was shown a vision of the glory of God (8:4). At the same time in contrast to God’s glory, the godlessness of the people of God was also shown him. The people were practising idolatry in the Temple and even bowing down to the Sun in the east. As we read through this section, we find the glory of God departing from the temple and away from the city (11:23) because of the sin of God’s people. Nothing else remained, but judgement.
# Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones (Chapter 37)
This is one of most loved passages in Ezekiel. It talks of a resurrection experience. The Spirit of God set Ezekiel in the middle of a valley which was full of bones. He was led to walk back and forth among them. God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (v. 3). He replied that God alone knew.
So God commanded him to prophesy to the bones and tell the dry bones that they were going to come to life. When he prophesied as commanded all the bones with a noise and a rattling sound came together, bone to bone and complete with flesh. But there was no life in them.
Then God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath. The breath from the four winds symbolized the Spirit of God as the Hebrew word for wind and breath and Spirit are the same word, Ruah. First Ezekiel preached to the bones by the word of the Lord. Now he prayed to the Spirit of God to come and vitalize the dead bodies: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army” (37:10). [Note the echoes of the work of the Spirit of God when Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again (see John 3:5—8).]
God also told him the meaning of this vision. The bones represented the “whole house of Israel.” They were saying, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” But God wanted them to know that they were still His people (see “O my people” in v. 12 and “you, my people” in v. 13) even though He had sent judgement on them. God promised that He would bring them up from their graves [graves here stand for all the nations to which the Jews were scattered] and bring them back to the land of Israel.
Today we find God’s promise fulfilled as Israel exists as a nation some 2500 years after the fall of Jerusalem. God promised to put His Spirit in the people. And instead of two nations they would become one in the land. They would be completely cured of idolatry and will be a cleansed people with David (the Messiah Jesus Christ) as king over them (v. 24).
# Vision of the Rebuilt Temple (Chapters 40—44)
Year 572 B. C.
14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel has a second vision-journey to the city of Jerusalem. Instead of a broken down city, here Ezekiel was shown a city with a rebuilt temple. Ezekiel was asked to pay close attention to everything that was shown to him so that he could tell it to the Israelites. Some people think of the temple here as symbolic. But there is no reason why it should not be a literal temple yet to be rebuilt for Jesus’ words indicate that there will be a temple in the last days (see Matthew 24:15).
Insight: “Ezekiel’s description [of the temple] reveals fascinating insights. For instance, the number of steps up toward the Holy Place grows greater at each stage, so that a worshipper mounts increasingly higher. But the doorways grow narrower (40:48; 41:2,3)—suggesting that the nearer to God’s presence one climbs, the narrower the path he or she must follow” — Taken from notes, Family Devotional Study Bible.
It was now nineteen years since Ezekiel had seen the glory of God leave the temple (11:22–23). Now the temple lay destroyed in dust and ashes. At this time Ezekiel sees the glory of God return to the rebuilt temple (43:4). This gave hope to the people in captivity that one day their God would return to dwell with them. Surely this was looking forward to the time the Messiah Jesus would be with His people and rule in Jerusalem.
Halley comments: “The Messiah is central in Ezekiel’s visions of Israel’s future. He calls Him `The Prince,’ 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; 44:3; 45:7; 46:16—18; 48:21.” God’s purpose in showing this temple to Ezekiel was that he would be able to describe it to the people. God wanted the people to be ashamed of their sins of all they did to violate their relationship with their living God (43:10, 11).”
God said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever” (43:7). Some scholars find it difficult to take this language literally. Others find difficulty with the description of offerings and sacrifices as described in the section 45:9—46:24. Halley comments, “One wonders why there should be Sacrifices under the reign of `The Prince.” The Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly states that these were fulfilled and done away in the death of Christ, “once for all.”
Those who think that this Temple is a literal `Millennial Temple’ consider that these animal sacrifices are to be offered by the Jewish nation while it is still unconverted, or that the sacrifices are commemorative of the death of Christ.” Note: Millennium refers to the thousand year rule of Jesus Christ on earth as described in Revelation 20:1—6.
# Vision of the Life-Giving River (Chapter 47:1—12)
“This is one of Ezekiel’s grandest passages. Joel and Zechariah also spoke of this stream. Joel 3:18, Zech, 14:8. It seems to be a picture of Heaven’s `river of water of life,’ Rev. 22:1—2. Whatever specific or literal application these waters might have, certainly, without any straining whatever, they can, in a general way, be taken as a beautiful picture of the benign influences of Christ, coming out of Jerusalem, and flowing forth, in an ever-widening, ever deepening stream, to the whole wide world, blessing the nations with their life-giving qualities, on into the eternities of Heaven.” –Halley’s Bible Handbook.
! The waters can also stand for the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read Jesus’ words in John 7:38, 39.
! The origin of the waters is from under the ground. It talks of our life hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
! The progress of the waters. It increased in depth as one went forward. So also with the things of God. There are simple things that can be understood from God’s Word but there are things in which a man can swim in.
! The healing power of the waters. Wherever the waters flow, there everything will live. A Christian is thus called to bring healing and life to people everywhere.
! The renewing power of the waters. The waters made the salt water fresh making it usable and drinkable. This stands for the positive and radical change that the light of the gospel makes in societies that live in darkness and bondage to sin.
All these highlights are to be understood as the blessed influences of the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ.
VI Ezekiel’s Parables
Ezekiel was given many PARABLES to communicate God’s message too. Here are some of them.
• Jerusalem as a useless vine (Chapter 15) thrown into the fire.
• It is followed by the parable of Israel as an unfaithful wife (Chapter 16).
• It is followed by the parable of two eagles and a vine (Chapter 17), the high note of it being the promise that God Himself will plant “a tender sprig” which will “produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar” (17:22, 23) referring to the coming Messiah from David’s family.
• The image of a lioness and her cubs which were carried off and that of a vine in the vineyard with no strong branch left on it fit for a ruler’s sceptre are described in Chapter 19. They talk about the weakened kings of David’s line carried into exile.
• The image of the sword sharpened and polished—sharpened for the slaughter and polished to flash like lightning (vv. 9, 10) is used in Chapter 21 to describe the coming judgement on Israel at the hand of Babylon. But it ends with a promise that one day the kingship will be restored when “he comes to whom it rightfully belongs” (v. 27); another clear reference to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, coming from David’s line.
• Jerusalem’ sins are listed out in Chapter 22. There God says that the house of Israel had become dross to Him; all of them were like the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. God said that the house of Israel are the dross of silver (v. 18).
• Then there is the parable of two adulterous sisters (Chapter 23) Oholah and Oholibah who engaged in prostitution which was symbolic of the idolatry of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
• It is followed by the parable of the cooking pot (Chapter 24) which was symbolic of the destruction of Jerusalem. The rust on the pot (v. 6) represented the bloodshed and immorality of the city.
• The image of the Good Shepherd taking care of His flock in contrast to the worthless shepherds who only take care of themselves is presented in Chapter 34.
• Finally the parable of two sticks—one representing Israel and the other Judah—are shown as being reunited under the Shepherd-king of God’s people who will come from David’s line (Chapter 37:15 —28). Though much is yet to be fulfilled the nation becoming one came true when Israel became “One” nation on 15th May 1948.
Note: “The Good Shepherd: Ezekiel, who used strong imagery throughout his writing, developed the image of God as a shepherd with more detail than any other author in the Bible. To people who herded sheep for a living, the simile had tremendous impact. The same comparison is used repeatedly throughout the Bible. One much-loved passage is Psalm 23, which begins, `The LORD is my shepherd’ Jesus called himself `the good shepherd’ (John 10:11—16) and had compassion on crowds because they were like `sheep without a shepherd’ (Mark 6:34). The image of God as a shepherd begins with Jacob (Genesis 48:15) and ends with Revelation 7:17.” — Taken from notes, Family Devotional Study Bible.
Ezekiel as a preacher was not popular since he was preaching a message of doom. But when the news of the fall of Jerusalem arrived (33:21, 22), he suddenly became popular because the people understood that his prophecies had come true. And people flooded to hear him. Then God warned Ezekiel that this was just an outward show with no repentance of heart: “Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice” (33:32). But God also encouraged him saying that when all that was spoken through him came true, which surely would, the people would know that a prophet had been among them (v. 33).
VII Ezekiel—The Prophet with a Tender Heart
Even though God gave Ezekiel a message of doom to proclaim to the exiles, he had a tender heart. God had told him at the very outset that he was being sent to an obstinate and stubborn people and a rebellious house (see Ezekiel’s call in chapter 2). God warned him not to be afraid of them. When God asked him to use human excrement as fuel to cook food he revolted from it in disgust and pleaded with God and God changed it to cow manure instead (4:14, 15).
We find Ezekiel interceding for Israel when in the vision he sees judgement executed on wicked people (9:8). While Ezekiel was prophesying on another occasion Pelatiah son of Benaiah died (he was a leader of the people who plotted evil and was giving wicked advice in the city). At that time also with a loud voice Ezekiel cried out to God for the people of Israel (11:13). So we find that Ezekiel though he had to deliver a message of doom; he did not rejoice in the destruction but had a tender heart which pleaded to God for his own people.
VIII Ezekiel Falls Facedown
Throughout the Bible we find people falling facedown in worship. NEVER do they fall face up in worship. Even in heaven, the elders and heavenly creatures fall facedown in worship. Ezekiel whenever the Spirit of God came upon him and he saw visions of God falls facedown. Ezekiel 1:28, 3:23, 43:3, 44:4. [Look up all the rest of the references in the Bible. See Note below.]
In the light of the above Scriptures, we can boldly say that what is happening in Christian meetings today popularly known as “slaying in the spirit” where people fall face up has nothing to do with the God of the Bible nor is it a move of the Spirit of God.
But genuine experiences that men of God have when the Spirit of God comes upon them leaves them exhausted and overwhelmed. For example Ezekiel sat overwhelmed by the vision for seven days (Ezekiel 3:15) and Daniel was exhausted and lay ill for several days (Daniel 8:27).
Another important point to note is that Ezekiel was lifted up from the position of falling facedown by the Spirit of God (2:2, 3:24, 43:5) and not by any human agency. This is in contrast to all the “body guards” standing on stage to assist the people to support them when they fall and pick them up later in Christian meetings today.
Other examples of falling facedown: Abram (Genesis 17:3), Moses (Exodus 34:8), Aaron and Moses (Numbers 16:22,45 and 20:6), Balaam (Numbers 22:31), Joshua (Joshua 5:14), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:18), the people of Israel (Leviticus 9:24, 2 Chronicles 7:3, Nehemiah 8:6), David (1 Chronicles 21:16), Ezekiel (3:23, 9:8, 11:13, 43:3, 44:4), Daniel (8:17,18, 10:9,15), Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:6), women at the tomb (Luke 24:5), angels, the twentyfour elders and four living creatures (Revelation 7:11, 11:16).
IX False Prophets (Chapter 13)
There are many false prophets and teachers today. Jesus had warned that many would come in the last days. But we also need to note that such people lived during the Old Testament times too. And God has given us clear and sufficient warning about them in the Bible. God compares the work of these false prophets as whitewashing a flimsy wall when it is built. That is to say that these false prophets do not warn people of their wickedness but proclaim peace and blessing on them while they continue in sin.
Thus these false prophets give false hopes to people. But God promises to tear down the wall they have whitewashed with their lying prophecies. Read also Jeremiah 23:9—40 along with Chapter 13 of Ezekiel. Note also the severity of God’s judgement on the Israelite who set up idols in his heart and then went to inquire of a prophet in Ezekiel 14:1—11.
X The fruitfulness of the Land
In Ezekiel 36:30, God said, “I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.” This is one of the modern miracles. The land of Israel which was totally barren and desolate has in a few decades’ time after it became a nation again in 1948 has blossomed into one of the most fertile regions in the entire world. Truly God’s Word which said, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden” (34:35) has become true.
XI The Next Great War
Through Prophet Ezekiel God has prophesied the end times so clearly. Though we cannot tell the exact date when this is going to happen, current world events seem like a literal fulfilment of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Before we think along this line of thought, let us keep two things in mind. The nation of Israel today is NOT a God-fearing nation as we understand the nation under king David or any other godly kings who ruled Judah. They are a people united by God’s unseen hand at this moment in time. But the people, a large majority of them, have no living relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But they are bonded together by a feel that they are the people of the Book and God had given the land by covenant to Abraham.
That means that God is not behind everything that Israel does today. For example, God does not delight in the killing of innocent Palestinian women and children. In the book of Ezekiel itself God has clearly stated, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (18:32). Moreover God has commanded the Israelite to treat all foreigners settled in their land fairly (Ezekiel 47:21—23).
But a day is coming when God will judge the nations for treating Israel with contempt and trying to wipe it off the map of this world. For the Jewish people are God’s chosen people through whom salvation has come to this world through Jesus Christ. And it was only because of their continual disobedience and sin that God judged them, brought them punishment and scattered them to the ends of the earth.
Today God has brought back the nation of Israel as He had repeatedly promised in the Old Testament. No longer will they be uprooted from their land because Jerusalem where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified will be the place of God’s throne for ever. And the peace of nations depend on accepting the God-given mandate to the nation to exist as an independent nation in the land God gave them (see how many times God says, “I will” in favour of Israel in this short passage, Ezekiel 34:11— 26). Another passage to read is Ezekiel 20:30—44.
In the light of these facts let us look at Ezekiel 38 and 39. It clearly talks about the land of Russia which is to the north of Israel (see a political world map). Meshech mentioned many times in these two chapters is clearly Moscow which is almost vertically north of Jerusalem (see a map). In verse 5 there is reference to Persia (modern Iran). They will join hands in the near future to attack Israel. Verse 8 which talks about a regathered nation recovered from war and brought out from the nations (one of the great movements in world history in the last half of the 20th century was the mass exodus of Jews from countries like Russia, the Arab world, Ethiopia and even India back to their homeland) and living in safety.
And when nations under the leadership of Russia and Iran invade the land of Israel, God Himself will fight against the enemies of Israel. There will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel at that time (38:19) and God will send divine judgements on the enemies fighting against Israel (38:22). The purpose is declared to be: “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (38:23 NIV) (see also 39:7, 8).
The weapons left behind will last as fuel for 7 years (39:9, 10) and all the dead from the enemy armies will find a burial place in the land of Israel. The process of burying the huge armies will take seven months to complete (v. 12). That day of victory when God will be glorified will be a memorable day for the people of Israel (39:13)! God’s glory will be displayed among the nations (39:21) and “From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (39:22 NIV) [emphasis added].
Then God will pour out His Spirit on them (39:29) which will fulfil many other prophecies in the Bible made in this regard.
Note: “In the book of Revelation the same words, Gog and Magog are used as representing all nations in Satan’s final furious attack on the people of God, Rev 20:7—10.” – Halley’s Bible Handbook.
XII Davidic Covenant
God made covenants (agreements) with His people from time to time. He made a covenant with Noah, Abraham, and then with the people of Israel through Moses and finally with David. The covenant with David is a Messianic covenant related to establishing of a throne in Jerusalem for David for ever. Read for yourself these passages and look for its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus Christ: 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:20—36; Isaiah 7:13—14, 9:6—7, 11:1—12; Jeremiah 23:2—7; Ezekiel 37:21—28; Hosea 3:4—5; Luke 1:30—33, Acts 2:29—31, 15:14—17. Jesus the Messiah will rule for ever and ever, Hallelujah!
XIII The Message of Ezekiel
Ezekiel exalts God and brings us to face the reality of God’s holiness and majestic greatness. Even though the nation of Israel had failed to live up to God’s expectations and turned against Him; God is still the same sovereign God who is in control of the history of all nations.
The book shows us God to be just in His judgement of sin and that the punishment on Israel was just and deserved. At the same time it tells us that the children were not suffering for the sins of their fathers. Therefore it emphasizes individual responsibility to have a right relationship with God.
God clearly gives the message to repent and live and surprises us with the statement that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (18:23).
But Ezekiel offers hope as it portrays new life to be given to the nation of Israel: “God still longed to save Israel. The judgement and exile meant that their sin was punished and there could now be a message of restoration. All were challenged to repent and by faith to join the new community of God’s people which would:
Be made up of individuals whose hearts have been transformed by God. 36:25—27.
Be given life by God’s Spirit. 37:5.
Be undivided. 37:15—17.
Have an eternal covenant with God. 14:11; 37:23.
Be led by a Davidic Messiah-King. 37:24—28.
Bring new life to the world. 47:1—12.”
– Taken from the Bible in Outline, published by Scripture Union.
Ezekiel 1:1 Heavens Were Opened, I Saw Visions of God
Ezekiel 1:24z, 25 A Voice from Above as They Stood with Lowered Wings
Ezekiel 13:12 Where Is the Whitewash When the Wall Collapses?
Ezekiel 22:30 Stand Before Me in the Gap
Ezekiel 24:13a Now Your Impurity Is Lewdness
Ezekiel 29:16a Egypt Will No Longer Be a Source of Confidence
Ezekiel 33:7 A Watchman
Ezekiel 34:26b Showers of Blessing In Season
Ezekiel 36:9 I Am Concerned for You
Ezekiel 37:12b Going to Open Your Graves and Bring You Up
Ezekiel 44:8 Instead Of Carrying Out Your Duty, You Put Others
Ezekiel 47:5 A River that No One Could Cross
Ezekiel 47:9z Where the River Flows Everything Will Live
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