Today we read through Ezekiel 47, and conclude the third week of the reading plan. That means we are 1/3 of the way done and have just over a week until we finished the Bible! We will also begin the New Testament in three days for those of you that were long awaiting the gospels.
Ezekiel is a prophet quite unlike the others in the Bible. The book can be more accurately dated to precisely 571 B.C. because there are more historical dates given throughout Ezekiel than any other prophet (or book, for that matter).
Jeremiah (which we finished yesterday) wrote to Judah during the time that the Babylonian exile was occurring; he warned them in the first half of the book about their coming exile, and begged them to remain steadfast and faithful after they were captives. Ezekiel was one of the captives, and so his perspective and timing is different than Jeremiah's. The beginning of Ezekiel is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Ezekiel has a vision of God (YWHW (יהוה)) and we are given an incredible illustration of what he sees. When God calls his people, he does so impressively and memorably.
Along with the prophecies and history in Ezekiel, there are also many parables. In chapter 16, Israel is like an adulterous woman. When we forsake the word of God and serve ourselves or an idol in our life, God feels as though we're committing adultery. We cannot be more devoted to someone or something than we are to God.
Ezekiel also regards many other nations aside from Israel, telling of their judgment and their consequences for slandering the name of God: Ammon, Edom, Egypt, Moab, Philistia, Sidon, and Tyre.
The book concludes with God's message through Ezekiel of reconciliation and redemption. The vision that Ezekiel sees of a valley of dry bones in chapter 37 is characteristic of the power of God to raise the dead, restore the lost, and make new what has become old-- to redeem. Ezekiel is a powerful book, discussing many theologies and doctrines, including "original sin" (or lack thereof, rather). Because of Ezekiel 18, and other chapters in the Bible, we know that original sin is not Biblical. For more on this, feel free to contact me through my website.
Just as Ezekiel saw a vision of God on the throne in the beginning (chapter 1), so he also sees a vision of the new temple (chapter 40-48) where God's presence has returned to Israel. So the book of Ezekiel can be broken into easily graspable parts; He sees God, he speaks to the people of the consequences of their sin, then speaks to them of the Almighty deliverance that God is capable of and promises,
Lastly, here is a realistic portrayal of what scholars believe happened in Ezekiel's vision: