Ezekiel…the Revelation of the Old Testament

Posted: July 2, 2011 in Christian

Alternate title… Is God finished with Israel? What’s in their future…or…What’s up, Ezekiel?

Israel has been one the dominating and driving forces behind world politics for several decades now and political questions regarding the future of this seemingly tiny, insignificant nation seem to be at the center of many of the world’s problems today. The question regarding Israel’s future is also a sticky subject that helps create divisions within the body of Christ as many churches deny Israel has a prophetic future, which in my opinion denies the integrity of the scriptures.

That being said, if we could ignore the opinions of some of our church leaders and instead allow the text to speak to us as we read the scriptures for ourselves to see what the Holy Spirit has to say, we will find that the bible develops and carries a few major themes from cover to cover, one of them being the coming of the Messiah and His future as the final world leader. Another major theme that the Holy Spirit writes about from Genesis to Revelation is Israel, it’s beginning, it’s history and it’s future. I could pull scriptures from Genesis through Revelation to prove the continuity of the woven web of the scriptures, however, I believe I can take a few chapter from one book of the Old Testament, written six hundred years before Christ*1, and use these chapter to answer the questions that deals with an event that, in part, is yet to happen! Isn’t God’s Word wonderful, that it is structured to allow us to do this? Let’s hope I can do it justice. OK, first, to do it justice, I need to do a quick synopsis of the Book of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a prophet of God that was born into a priesthood lineage in Judea during the reign of Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin). Ezekiel lived most of his adult life in exile in Babylon and became a prophet after his famous encounter with God riding the ‘wheel within a wheel’ (Ezekiel 1:16 & also chapter 10) chariot being guided by four living creatures, which most likely were Cherubim.

For a person like me that has always found math and the sciences fascinating, Ezekiel has always been one of those rare gems of literature that stands out. From the first chapter he throws these strange descriptions at you of his encounters with God that you try to get your mind around. I picture his descriptions of the conveyances of the Glory of God to the best of his ability, from the perspective of someone living 2600 years ago, as being similar to him trying to give a description of a flashy ’51 Mercury, chopped and bobbed with immaculate paint and replete with chrome and spinners and side pipes complimented by some escorts circling ahead and behind on fast shiny motorcycles (I can see God appreciating a fine, ’51 Merc). This first chapter sets the stage for the flavor and style of the rest of the book.

So what does Ezekiel say about Israel? The first several chapter are dedicated to warning the unfaithful children of God that they are getting ready to be hauled to the woodshed and punished by being sent into exile into Babylon. Chapter 9, verses 3-7 paint a pretty clear picture of the anger of God toward his chosen people: ¶ And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which [had] the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old [and] young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom [is] the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which [were] before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. (KJV) Chapter 10 gives us a vision by Ezekiel where God packs up and leaves the Temple because he considered it defiled. (This is one of many places throughout the scriptures where you can almost picture the Lord, shaking his head and mumbling, “Aye, yi, yi, what am I going to do with these kids!”)

Can you imagine what a faithful prophet, such as Ezekiel, seeing these vision that God is presenting to him; seeing the abominations of his people basically thumbing their noses at the Father? Can you imagine how he must have felt when he saw God order an angel to mark the faithful and order the other angels following him to slaughter every man, woman and child who didn’t have the mark of faithfulness to the Lord? Can we begin to understand what was running through Ezekiel’s mind when he saw the Glory of The Lord departing his Sanctuary in the Holy Temple at Jerusalem? I can’t, not really, but I think the preceding chapters of this vision that tell of the children of Israel worshiping idols and profaning and defiling the Temple, answers the question of why they were blinded.

The next several chapters of the book deal with judgment on Israel and on different nations and eventually to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians during the twelfth year of exile (Ezekiel 33:21). At this point Ezekiel does something strange. He takes you from sixth century, B.C. and suddenly flings you into the future. Ezekiel 34 shows God examining those who are shepherding the children of Israel and pronouncing judgment on them. I believe these shepherds are idioms of the host nations of the Jews throughout history and God’s displeasure with them, until verse 22 where he talks about gathering his sheep together under his protection and speaks about how they will be safe with David as their prince. This is one of many places in the bible to make reference to the House of David being in their land in the end times, or as the question puts it, in the future.

The next few chapters of this wonderful book build upon the children of the Lord being once again in their land and receiving the blessing of the Lord, all the while hearing the rumbling of the nations gearing up against them. Chapter 38 tells us about the nations preparing and assembling themselves to go to war against Israel and about God talking to them and reminding them of a curious promise he made to them long ago*2. Ezekiel 38:14-17 tells us how God is reminding the leaders that he set them up for this attack on his people, an attack designed to wipe the aggressors out once and for all: Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know [it]? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. Thus saith the Lord GOD; [Art] thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days [many] years that I would bring thee against them? (KJV). Chapter 39 starts out with something even stranger. Verse 1 & 2 are telling these aggressors that God is controlling the pace of of the battle and is in charge of the events as they unfold. It reminds me of the same situation in Jerusalem six hundred years later where Christ set the pace and controlled the events leading up to his death. (Ezekiel 39: 1,2) “And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; “and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel (NKJV). Pretty cool, huh.

This odd chapter continues with after battle descriptions that would seem familiar to DOD analysts, because it seems to describe a detailed after action report of a nuclear conflict. Verse 21 of chapter 39 changes gears again and gives us Gentiles a brief synopsis of the history and reasons for Israel’s punishment and their eventual forgiveness in the end. Verse 24 also seems to answer why they were blinded. (Ezekiel 39:24) “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them.” (NKJV)

Chapters 40 through 42 give really precise descriptions and measurements of a Temple in Jerusalem that has never existed…yet. Oh, yeah, remember back in chapter 10 where we read about God packing up and leaving the Temple? (Ezekiel 10:18) Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. (KJV) Chapter 43:2-5 describes to us the return of the Lord to his new Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:2-5) And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw—like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (KJV)

I think this is fairly good evidence that God isn’t finished with Israel yet, don’t you?

Jim

3-15-11

*1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezekiel

*2 This promise to Gog by Ezekiel, is one of those strange example of prophecy where we are given the foretelling today and we are told that we will be reminded of the warning centuries down the road. This is another good example of God being able to see the ‘big picture’ from beginning to the end.

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