Bible Experiment Ezekiel
Few books in the Bible strike me with such fear and reverence like the book of Ezekiel. In my hunt for reading and reviewing every single book of the Bible and writing at least 1,000 words per book, I hit the wall when I came across Ezekiel. Not because it’s a particularly hard book to comprehend. But because I have the respect for the book, and any old post about it … just won’t do.
As I consider which books will completely throw me off like this, Ezekiel obviously, because that fact is already in the past tense. But also, I think that Daniel will not only lay me low (unfortunately it’s the exactly next book… so yay! to that unfortunate coincidence), but will also smite me whilst I’m down. And then obviously there is Revelation – which I am actually looking forward to more than I should be. But the other book that will be mind alteringly intense will be Hebrews. Strange group, I know. But each one of these books just completely uncorked my idea of the scriptures. Totally lit me on fire in that regard.
Jeremiah had prophesied about Israel’s captivity in Babylon and now Ezekiel was captive along with everyone else. He had been enslaved and marched off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and so Ezekiel was the very first prophet to prophesy from within captivity. So Ezekiel definitely was going to have a unique perspective on his communication from God. So what, exactly, is it that is giving me such great pause about Ezekiel? Well, I think it’s mainly the fact that, not only is it near term prophecy, but it is also far far term prophecy. Ezekiel covers the people of that exact same time period, and gives them one more chance to repent, but it also gives visions of the apocalyptic. Look at how Ezekiel opens:
As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming bronze…
wait for it…
And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures.
Ezekiel began his book with the proper focus on God… but it wasn’t an abstract vision of God. But rather Ezekiel saw the God of Revelation, and began his book with this vision. It is a picture of amazing glory, strength, and potential judgement. Which makes sense for the people of captivity to hear. The children of Israel had chosen not to heed the warning of the prophets that came before Ezekiel, and now they were in captivity. It was time to step up the prophetic visions to a whole new level.
Right? Which, I can say, from my own life… I’m not really great at heeding the warning signs that zip past as I’m flying at the speed of sound. Sign after sign flips by, and eventually I hit the wall and explode into a ball of flame. It’s then that I really do need to hear from God and listen to what He’s been trying to tell me from day one.
So, if Ezekiel is another final warning for the Jews, what is it exactly that Ezekiel is prophesying and communicating to the Israelites?At first Ezekiel tells of the coming doom that will come if they don’t repent and draw close to God again. The book foretells of the deliverance from their captivity actually. Which, from the prophetic vantage, is the first good news the children of Israelites.
Ezekiel Chapter Walkthrough –
Chapters 1-3 is the commissioning of Ezekiel. It begins with pyrotechnics and visions. And he basically starts by confronting the people of Israel as a sinful people in need of repenting.
Chapters 4-24 is Ezekiel delivering the thunder to those in captivity. In this section of Ezekiel tells parables about their being an adulterous woman and he basically informed them God was cleaning house. Basically he let them know that they had done their time for their sin.
Chapters 25-32 Ezekiel then expands his scope from the children of Israel to the seven nations nearby that mocked God because of His people being in captivity. Ezekiel let them know that these nations would soon get theirs. The nations at the time were Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt.
Chapters 33-48 talks clearly about the current people of Israel, as well as the future people of Israel and the coming Messiah. He discusses the Temple, the Kingdom of God and better yet, the end of the age. 37 is the famous chapter of the valley of dry bones.
Ezekiel Deep Dive
So far though, we’ve only spoken about the intent of the book of Ezekiel. A fairly dispassionate conversation about the overall feel. But that just doesn’t cut it. Let me drop a little bit of Ezekiel on you for you to just read through on your own. But if you would, your internal monologue should be that of Samuel Jackson… Because in my mind, when I hear Ezekiel, I hear Samuel Jackson. And if you need a little help on how to read this to yourself, here is an example for you, of Samuel Jackson quoting Ezekiel, just so you can get the tone right. Oh, and a word of warning to the lily white amongst us, Quentin Terrintino writes quite a bit of profanity throughout his scripts. But since we are all big boys and girls, I’m sure you’ll all be ok. Anyway, here ya go.:
Bottomline, Ezekiel could bring the heat. Speaking of which, have you guys ever stopped and read some of the old sermons of old itinerrant preachers from colonial America? Like Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God’?
‘…So that it is not because God is unmindful of their Wickedness, and don’t resent it, that he don’t let loose his Hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, tho’ they may imagine him to be so. The Wrath of God burns against them, their Damnation don’t slumber, the Pit is prepared, the Fire is made ready, the Furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the Flames do now rage and glow. The glittering Sword is whet, and held over them, and the Pit hath opened her Mouth under them.’
‘…But the foolish Children of Men do miserably delude themselves in their own Schemes, and in their Confidence in their own Strength and Wisdom; they trust to nothing but a Shadow. The bigger Part of those that heretofore have lived under the same Means of Grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to Hell: and it was not because they were not as wise as those that are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out Matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If it were so, that we could come to speak with them, and could inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected when alive, and when they used to hear about Hell, ever to be the Subjects of that Misery, we doubtless should hear one and another reply, ‘No, I never intended to come here; I had laid out matters otherwise in my Mind; I thought I shouldcontrive as well for my self; I thought my scheme good;…’
If you read through his sermon it is hellfire. Literally he talks about sinners, as if they were spiders, being held aloft a flame. His scripture verse for his sermon tells you everything you need to know. “Their foot shall slide in due time.” Deuteronomy 32:35. Who does that? Their foot shall slide in due time? The full context of that whole verse is even more intense: “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.”
And while I disagree, wholeheartedly, with the theology of Jonathan Edwards and his sermon… that God is chomping at the bit to smear us across the floor, I do think that many of us, get a little too cozy to the God of the universe. I too can get a little too cozy with God. I’ve seen it in my own writings here as I walk through the Bible. And while I still agree that God loves us (He must if He sent his only begotten son to die for us) I do think that we can become too familiar. That we can take Him and His judgement for granted.
Which brings us back to Edwards, and the fact that our foot will slide in due time. That we will find ourselves on the other side of the grave and wonder what happened. We will think that we are the masters of our own domain when in fact, we are not. We will fight for our own autonomy, and demand our rights, and our sovereignty, right until we realize we are much too late. Please don’t get me wrong… come to know the Lord to avoid hell is a terrible terrible reason to become a Christian. Like awful bad. Becoming a Christian to fill the awful God shaped hole in all of us is a good reason for it.
But regardless, you have to understand that this is a piece of the equation, none the less. Your sovereignty will do nothing for you in the long run. How’s it working out for you so far? Right. I thought so. God loves you. He does. And He wants nothing more than to be the propitiation for your sins… your payment… your absolution for your whole entire life… for free. He has already done it. You just have to take advantage of it. To know that all that is necessary is to accept Him as your Lord. To acknowledge that God sent Jesus to earth to die for your sins. It is the greatest story ever told. That God died for you – and He is standing with open arms waiting for you to acknowledge what He’s already done for you 2,000 years ago.
And so, when you are reading through Ezekiel, with your Samuel Jackson impersonation… and you are realizing that God is actually talking to you, and your need to come to Him, and to dump your life before Him… know that He does love you. And He already has made a way. Know that while yes, it’s going to get really really hairy for those that don’t love God, but that isn’t a reason to run to Him now. I have a million other reasons that are so much better. My own personal story is a great reason… which I’d be happy to tell you about personally. But know that God isn’t to be afraid of, if you love Him, and you accept that salvation He wants to freely give you. But if it’s all about your autonomy, then buckle up. Cause it’s bound to get dicy for you sooner or later. I know for a fact that we will talk alot more about this in Daniel next time, and also in Revelation, at the back of the book. So, sooner or later… see you next time.