Friday, October 14, 2016

A Quick Overview of the book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel in Hebrew is “Y’chkezkiel” meaning “God will strengthen.” The book was written by Ezekiel who was carried away to Babylon during the exile (remember Jeremiah prophesied about the Temple destruction and the 70 year exile). Ezekiel’s main purpose was to keep reminding the generation born in exile about the national sins which had brought Israel so low. He also sustained the faith of the exiles by making predictions of national restoration, justice upon their oppressors and national glory.

Ezekiel’s book can be divided into four sections: Chapters 1-24 contain the prophecies about the ruin of Jerusalem; Chapters 25-32 have the prophecies of God’s judgment on nearby nations; Chapter 33 has a last call for repentance to Israel; and Chapters 34-48 hold prophecies concerning the future restoration of Israel.

Let’s look at Ezekiel’s 1st vision in chapter 1, verses 4 through 10:

 “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.  And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”

You can find many artists’ renditions of this description and some look eerily like something from our present day. Another vision of Ezekiel is several chapters long about the temple:

 1 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the LORD was on me and he took me there. 2 In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. 3 He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. 4 The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.”

It goes on to describe all the gates and the rooms. A picture is worth these thousand words, so read the description for yourself and imagine the courts and gates and rooms. Don’t forget the palm tree decorations.

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