by Jeffrey Hagan
Ezekiel was not just a prophet, he was also a priest. Unlike Jeremiah who prophesied while remaining in Jerusalem, Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon where he, together with King Jehoiachin and many others, was resettled after being taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar. God appointed Ezekiel to be the “watchman for the house of Israel." He was to speak God’s words to them whether they listened or not. Here are just a few things we can learn from this book.
Lesson 1: God is holy.
Ezekiel 1:28b, "Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking."
God's holiness is the most highlighted attribute of his in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s encounter with God in all His glory riding upon his chariot throne left him completely overwhelmed and speechless. He fell to the ground in the presence of God's holiness. But this encounter carried him throughout his ministry to persevere and be faithful. We may not have the same amazing vision of God that he did, but we can encounter him daily as the holy and righteous God through his written word to us.
Lesson 2: God is sovereign.
Throughout the entire book of Ezekiel, but in chapters 26-32 in particular, we see the sovereignty of God. The fact that God appeared to Ezekiel in Babylon and spoke against other nations and leaders tells us that God is sovereign over the whole world. Even the greatest of superpowers are under his control.
Lesson 3: God judges.
Judges 4:1-5:17; 33:21.
The exiles who were in Babylon with Ezekiel were hoping they could return to Jerusalem soon. They didn't take the fact that sin invites judgement seriously (4:1-5:17). Then came the terrible news that Jerusalem had fallen (33:21). Ignoring the advice of the prophet Jeremiah, King Zedekiah had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. As a consequence his army completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. God is serious about sin and God will use whoever he chooses to bring about judgement.
Lesson 4: God wants repentance.
Ezekiel 3:18-19, "If you say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul."
The intention of God that most stands out in Ezekiel is that he wants the wicked to turn from their ways and be saved. God makes it very clear through Ezekiel that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. There is so much oppression and violence against the innocent and minorities today how should we pray about this? That God will use his mighty power to destroy the evil-doers? It doesn't look like that's the case. Instead, we should pray that they will repent, leave their wicked ways and protect, not destroy.
Lesson 5: God holds the future.
Ezekiel 36-37; 40-48.
Ezekiel’s later chapters give both the exiles and us a vision of the future. There is a promise of a new covenant where individuals are given a new heart and new spirit to live after God’s commandments. This came to pass when Jesus established the New Covenant in his blood when he presented the "cup" representing his death on the Cross. The promise of a New Jerusalem with the River of Life flowing from its sanctuary is still to be fulfilled (47:1-12; Revelation 21-22).
Since we are fortunate enough to know that our story has an incredible, victorious ending we need to stay strong and persevere in our faith through all the trials and tribulations of life.
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