“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’” Ezekiel 28:25-26 (NIV)
What’s Going On?
The first half of the book of Ezekiel is all about Israel’s judgment. The second half deals with the judgment of the nations, showing that God is the God of all nations and not just of His beloved Israel. Chapter 21 told us that Babylon would be the sword God uses for this judgment. We see there will be judgment for Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and most especially Egypt. Egypt will be judged harshly for not helping Israel when given the chance and also for believing itself and its Pharaoh to be godlike and more powerful that the God of Israel. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Not long after these prophecies were given, Babylon would, in fact, invade these places. Tyre will fall not long after Jerusalem, and Egypt soon after that.
Back in chapter 3 we read that the Lord closed Ezekiel’s mouth so that his speech was limited to the words the Lord gave him to speak. Throughout the book of Ezekiel we hear Ezekiel quoting God and telling his audience: This is what the Lord says; hear the Word of the Lord. This phrase is used over a hundred times indicating that Ezekiel was truly an instrument for God, His messenger sent to give His people His Word. But in chapter 33 we see this lifted and Ezekiel’s mouth is once again opened as his speech in no longer restricted. Notice also how often you read the words, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The prophecies, the actions, the visions are all given for that one singular purpose – to show both Israel and all the world that He is the Lord.
When word finally reaches Ezekiel that Jerusalem has fallen to Babylon, his mission turns from that of the watchman sounding the alarm to the messenger offering comfort to those who mourn. He continues to prophesy that Babylon will not go unpunished and Jerusalem will have new life. The Spirit of the Lord even shows Ezekiel the image of dry bones coming back to life as an illustration of what the Lord will do for his beloved Israel. There can also be a personal message there that says God can bring life into things once thought dead. It’s only dead if it isn’t in God’s will to be used for His Glory. The Spirit then goes on to show Ezekiel in great detail how the Temple will be restored and find new life in a new era of renewal when the people of Israel will return and resettle in and around Jerusalem. I love how the book comes to an end with the words: “The Lord is there” or Yahweh-Shammah
When and Where Are We?
Ezekiel was among the first wave of Jews to leave Judah, along with King Jehoiachin, in the year 597 BC. The Fall of Jerusalem occurred in 586 BC, eleven years after he left Jerusalem. When a section begins with “In the ninth year” etc, he is referring to nine years since his exile began in 597, so nine years later would be 588 BC, which is still two years BEFORE the Fall of Jerusalem. The latest recorded date is twenty-five years after his exile began, which would be the year 572 BC.
Remember that even though there are places in this week’s reading that sound like they are taking place in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is still in Babylon and being shown visions of what is taking place, and what will take place, in Jerusalem.
The Spirit – We see the Spirit at work throughout the book of Ezekiel, not as Christians are used to experiencing the indwelling of Christ, but as an actual person acting on behalf of God or in some places entering into Ezekiel in order to carry out the will of God. We also see the Lord say He is going to pour out His Spirit onto His people, giving them a new heart and a new spirit. We’ll see evidence of this when we get to the book of Acts in the New Testament.
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Ezekiel 25-28
- Tuesday: Ezekiel 29-32
- Wednesday: Ezekiel 33-36
- Thursday: Ezekiel 37-39
- Friday: Ezekiel 40-44
- Saturday: Ezekiel 45-48