RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ezek. 5

12/20/09 Ezekiel was a priest and therefore not permitted to shave (Lev 21:5; Ez 44:20). Yet God tells him to, and with a sword no less. Ezekiel likely cut himself multiple times in the process, so probably looked a sight as people gathered to watch. By the time he was done he probably had a sizable audience around his clay tablet, which depicted the siege in Jerusalem.

Scales, a symbol of judgment, weighed the hair of his beard into thirds. One pile he placed in the center of the city drawn on the tablet and there he burned it. Then with his sword he struck a third of it around the city, and the other third he threw to the wind.

All this showed how the people of Jerusalem would die. However, a few hairs he was to rescue and tuck into his robe, then he was to take some of that and burn it. Even those saved would find death another way.

The thirds imagery is linked to the trumpet plagues in Rev 8. All of this symbolism would have been pretty clear to the onlookers. But in case there as any doubt God sent a verbal message a long with it.

God set his people in the middle of those whom he wanted them to teach, but instead they had fallen even worse into sin than their neighbors. Why? Because they had God’s law and they did what they did clearly knowing what they did. “When the law was given sin increased…” (Rom 5). And because his people had profaned his name among the nations, God would now do his work of setting the record straight, that this was not the way his people were to be.

Their sins were specifically two: they had broken God’s laws and defiled his sanctuary with their own created idols, and “abominations.” Therefore, God would have not pity and would not spare, not by actively punishing but by simply withdrawing and allowing evil to have its way. When this was done God’s anger would run out.

It’s important that all of this is a prediction. God wasn’t simmering in anger trying to resist an explosion of temper. He was planning his anger as the appropriate, necessary, and therefore most loving and merciful response he could make. He wanted to finish it so he could end the anger.

The entire reason God was giving these warnings was so that the people would repent, turn around, and return to him. If they would do that then he would be able to not do all he was saying he must do, for their sake and his own.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 4

12/19/09 Ezekiel took a clay tablet, which the Babylonians used for writing and drawing. He drew a map of Jerusalem on it, then probably built little models of siege works. This would have been a vivid depiction to onlookers who wouldn’t have forgotten easily what they were seeing. This seems to be a method God specialized in, and from which teachers and preachers should take lessons. The use of imagery, be it in actions or stories, which will stick in the mind and force reflection long after the preaching is done.

Then Ezekiel was to lie on his side for a certain number of days (no one is certain why that particular number) bearing the sins of the people. The high priest in the sanctuary services bore the sins of the people, but Ezekiel was acting out what happened to Israel and Judah, it seems, illustrating that they would during this time bear the consequences of their choices themselves.

He couldn’t move during this time, though he must have had breaks since he did prepare his food each day. He subsisted on a starvation diet, which Revelation alludes to in Rev. 6, the third seal and the black horse in which people ate a spare diet of spirituality. Spiritual famine was severe. And in this condition they would exist in constant uncleanness among the Gentiles, barely surviving spiritually.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 3:22-27

12/18/09 It was time for Ezekiel to begin work. God had given him seven days to get over the shock of his calling, but now he must begin. He was told to go out to the plain. I can’t help but wonder, with all of the connection between Revelation and Daniel, if it might be the same plain of Dura where Nebuchadnezzar built his statue.

At the plain Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord like he had seen before and again he fell on his face and then was raised to his feet by the Spirit.

His first orders were to shut himself up in his house. The phrase, “They will tie you up with ropes” isn’t well understood. Some believe the exiles would tie him up literally. Others say this is possibly his restrictions due to no one listening to him. On top of that, God would take his voice so that he could only speak specific things that God gave to him Again, some say it’s not that he couldn’t talk at all, but that he couldn’t speak publicly. However “mute” seems to indicate otherwise.

When God gave him words, though, then he would speak. “He who hears, let him hear, and he who refuses, let him refuse,” was a common phrase of Jesus, which harked back to Ezekiel, and also it carries a familiar ring to Revelation’s close of probation. “Let him who is righteous continue to be righteous, and he who is wicked continue to be wicked.” But it was clear that they would refuse to listen to Ezekiel.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 3:16-21

12/17/09 After seven day Ezekiel wasn’t finished sitting and being angry about his prophetic calling. But he heard God give him his first task. But not without first giving to him a solemn warning about the results of disobedience to his commands.

“You have been appointed a watchman for my people. Whenever I give you words, you deliver them.” So if God sent the message to the wicked that they would die, Ezekiel had to deliver that message in order that guilt would not fall on him for their blood.

To some degree we all fall into the same “watchman” category in that if we fail to share life-giving information with another when we have it, then their blood will be required of us. God doesn’t specify how it will be  required, but that it will.

Ezekiel lived in a time of crisis when niceties were luxuries. People’s attention had to be arrested. God wasn’t worried about offending people at this point. The time had come for action. People had to be warned. Not a heartless warning. God never operates out of heartlessness, but out of desperation borne of love, which intuitively people recognize. The more our hearts love our neighbor, the more we are able to say difficult things to them that may make a difference.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 2:8-3:15

12/16/09 God warned Ezekiel to listen and obey God’s words to him and not be rebellious himself by refusing to obey. Then in symbolic fashion common to prophets he was given to eat a scroll written front and back.

Usually papyrus scrolls were only written on one side, so this was unusual, possibly symbolizing that nothing could be added (cf Rev. 22:18).

So Ezekiel opened his mouth and was fed the scroll. It was sweet. It was a wonderful experience he had with God. But it was to have it’s own bitterness, because immediately Ezekiel was told to take the message that was now a part of himself to his own people. The message would be rejected so it would have been far easier to take it to a people he didn’t know or care so much about. But this was not God’s call to him. He wasn’t to be a cross-cultural missionary. He was to go to his own rebellious people who would not listen.

This call for Ezekiel was deeply troubling. Yet God equipped him for the task. He hardened his forehead, probably symbolizing his mind, and his face. He would have to face some tough stuff from his people, but God made him able to handle it. It seems that Ezekiel wasn’t so impervious that he was able to ever stop relying on God for strength, but he was equipped nevertheless.

There would be plenty of reason to be afraid, but he need not be, God assured him.

V. 10, Ezekiel was to take into his inner parts God’s message. In other words he would understand in all of it’s severity the word of God to his people. Then he was to go and faithfully deliver to them the word of God.

V. 12, Suddenly the Spirit lifted up Ezekiel and removed him from the presence of God where he had been taken in spirit and brought him back to his own people by Chebar.

V. 14, Ezekiel’s reaction to his new calling was that he was “embittered in the rage of my spirit.” Evidently, like many other prophets, Ezekiel was not entirely pleased with his call. He was angry and didn’t want to obey. Instead, he wanted to rebel just as he had been warned not to do.

The call of God is not often, if ever, a fun thing. At least not in a war situation, which is what we’re in. Ezekiel was so appalled that he simply sat for seven full days, much to the disturbance of the exiled Jews there in Babylon. Yet the hand of God was strong upon Ezekiel.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 2:1-7

12/15/09 Ezekiel, who has fallen on his face at the vision, is commanded to stand. Then the Spirit (breath or wind) enters him and gives him the strength to obey, and stands him on his feet to receive his orders. He receives the title Son of Man. It will be a constant reminder to him of his weakness and dependence upon God. God then tells Ezekiel he is sending him on what will seem like a hopeless mission. He will deliver messages from God to people who will not listen or appreciate them or the messenger. It’s necessary for God to prepare Ezekiel for rejection and lack of apparent success.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezek. 1:1-28

12/14/09 V. 1-3, Ezekiel writes from captivity to his people back in Judah, who have not yet been taken into exile. Chapters 1-24 are warnings to them. The last 15 chapters are words of hope to them after being exiled themselves. When Ezekiel refers to the 30th year it is likely that this is his own age, which is the age a priest would begin his ministry at the temple, but Ezekiel had no temple to minister in.

V. 4-28, The vision: The prophetic ministry seems always to being with a vision from God commissioning someone to task. Ezekiel saw a windstorm driving toward him a cloud. In that cloud he saw among the flashing of lightning four human-like creatures with four faces, four wings, and feet like calves. With them were four wheels full of eyes. And they all moved in fire. Above them was an expanse that looked like ice, which was a roof for the creatures and a floor for a throne above them. The throne was sapphire, blue stone, and was encircled by a rainbow. An indescribable being sat on the throne, glorious and blinding.

Ezekiel was trying to compare what he saw to things known, but language was inadequate. The creatures were not human, but kind of looked like that. They didn’t have the hooves of calves but it kind of looked like that. They weren’t actually wheels, but resembled that. The expanse looked a bit like ice. We don’t have an exact picture, merely an approximation. God himself is not seen, only his glory, and that is virtually indescribable.

Mesopotamian imagery in paganism actually has similar-looking beings to the four creatures. God was speaking to Ezekiel in his own references.

In this vision we find all the elements of the sanctuary: cherubim, God between and above the cherubim, upon his chariot-throne moving on something like wheels. God has come from the temple in Jerusalem to meet with Ezekiel. It must have been a comfort to Ezekiel that God was mobile and not limited to just the temple.

I wonder at the symbolism specifically of the creatures and the wheels moving in any direction without turning. Could this be symbolic of God’s ever-changing changelessness? God is constantly adapting to situations while never changing his ultimate purposes. “In him is no shadow (hint?) of turning.” All of this is what Ezekiel saw in the vision. Next comes what he heard.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,