While living in exile, Ezekiel’s heart was broken by the devastation of Jerusalem and the carnage he witnessed. God chose the prophet Ezekiel to preach to the Jews in Babylon what was going to happen in the future.
As a youth, Ezekiel read the history about the superficial repentance in Deuteronomy. He saw that the Israelites were once again turning their backs on God. Without trusting God, the political upheaval of the times ruled their minds and hearts instead of God. The Temple was in ashes, and as their faith was based on the physical scene, and not the unseen realm, they were devastated.
“This as the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” (1:28) He saw what some scholars today believe was Jesus. The prophet fell facedown as the man spoke; “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” (2) As the man spoke, the Spirit came into Ezekiel and raised him to his feet, and Ezekiel heard him clearly speak.
Ezekiel was a home missionary to the people of Israel. “You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech.” (3:5) He was a watchman. (33:7) Ezekiel was careful to speak God’s Word to save souls. He was used as a sign post that said “walk this way”. In humility and obedience, Ezekiel lost all things and shut down his personal interests. He ate his food by weight as he sacrificed his personal appearance. Today the words recorded in Ezekiel convict us to turn back to our first love, Jesus Christ. We too should be careful to watch, and to listen to what the Spirit is saying to us.
In all the land, the religious practices became superficial and ritualistic. The temple had been worshipped above God and so He reduced it to ashes as the people were deported to Babylon. The same thing can happen to Christians today. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we worship our accomplishments, our possessions or our personal traditions. Music, sports, work or ambition can easily become an idol. The Spirit of God is limited to help us uncover sin if we refuse to examine our heart’s motives. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we must crucify our personal desires so that He may rise up and work in us for God’s glory.
God sent Ezekiel to speak to a stiff necked, selfish and rebellious generation. Our Father instructed him not to be terrified while living among evil. Then God stretched out his hand and handed Ezekiel a scroll. Both sides of the scroll had words of lament and woe. God then told Ezekiel to eat the scrolls, to digest them fully and then go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel reports that the words on the scrolls tasted sweet. Our Father warned Ezekiel that the house of Israel was not willing to listen to him because they were not willing to listen to God. Then the Spirit lifted Ezekiel up and he heard a loud rushing sound “May the glory of the Lord be praised in His dwelling place”.
The phrase ‘the Glory of God’ is repeated a dozen times in the first eleven chapters. Then in chapter 43, the glory of the Lord is grieved by the idol worship of the people. Today, even as we live under a new covenant, it is essential that we worship the Lord, and not what the world offers. If we ignore how the Holy Spirit pricks our conscience, the Spirit of God will be grieved. As the temple of the Holy Spirit on earth is our body, mind and soul, when we grieve the Holy Spirit, in our foolishness, we replace God for things of this world.
The writings of Ezekiel end with the earthly glory of God returning. He reports in chapter one: “Standing near the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens opened up and God gave him an incredible vision.” Each creature in Ezekiel’s vision had the face of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. When the creatures (In chapter 9 Ezekiel revealed that the creatures were Cherubim) moved the wheels moved. “Wherever the spirit would go, they would go.”(1:20) It is important to be led by the Spirit, and to go wherever we are moved to go. To speak what we are moved to speak.
As we obey God, we are kept from being held accountable for the eternal damnation of those we are led to speak to. God instructed Ezekiel; “When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved your life.” (3:18)
In chapter 7 we read that the end came to the four corners of Israel.“The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices.”
Whether or not people listen or understand, our responsibility is the same as Ezekiel’s. We are to listen and obey, and deliver God’s message.
In chapter 37 Ezekiel was given the vision of a valley filled with dry bones which represented the whole house of Israel. It pictures the power of God to raise those who are dead and bring forth new life “in Him”. The bones are the Jews; and the graves are the nations in which they were buried. God’s promise to bring them back to their own land, and to revive His Holy City will be, according to His purpose, in His time, to fulfill all that He promised.
“Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them.” (John 14:21)
LESSON: Jesus will judge us, and He will restore those who confess their sins
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved.
“It is finished” – 5/18/19