EZEKIEL (THE PROPHET OF GOD`S POWER) (OMNIPOTENT)
Son of Buzi, a priest and was married. (24:18). He was one of the exile Prophet; he lived by River Cheba in Babylonia. He was called by God to deliver God`s message. His name “Ezekeil” meant Omnipotent (all powerful), though he prophesied in exile. He also had special interest in the course of events in Jerusalem.
He was a prophet of God`s judgment over Judah and a prophet of hope to the exiles.
Ezekiel witnessed a number of unique visions after his call to be a prophet. His visions are full of symbolism which is intended to express spiritual truth which goes beyond simple human understanding.
THE MAIN THEMES OF EZEKIEL
Judgment upon various nations that oppressed and misled God`s people. This pointed to the unlimited powers of the Lord.
The theme of a remnant shall return. Ezekiel talked about God`s readiness to forgive and restore those who would return to him in true repentance. God`s aim was to save and preserve a remnant of his people so that his true love for them and his divine plan for them may be seen.(Ps 137)
The theme of individual responsibility of sin, Ezekiel made it clear that the one who sinned was the one to die.
Ezekiel also stressed the fact that God was above all the gods of the Babylonians. (Transcendence of God). God is beyond all limitations. This was against the belief that since Babylon succeeded in capturing God`s people and destroying their treasured city then it implied that their gods were more powerful than Yahweh.
Ezekiel also emphasized the fact that God was omnipresent i.e. was not bound by any Geographical, cultural and social boundaries. These stemmed from the ideology at that time that God was only worshiped at Jerusalem.
Ezekiel also looked forward to the restoration of the original 12 tribes each being given their rightful position of the land and the temple would be revealed.
THE FIRST VISION (Chapter 1:1-28) (A vision of Chariot Throne)
In around 593 BC, Ezekiel had the Lord speak to him and he felt his power. He was in Babylonia beside River Chebar. What is important is to interpret and understand the symbolism in the vision. Symbolism would mean use of something or sign in any form to represent something.
Ezekiel witnessed storm coming from the north, a great storm, lighting from a huge cloud all from the northern direction. The Babylonians believed that their gods lived in the far North. So God`s manifestation of his presence from that direction indicated that his power was greater than any power which might be attributed to the gods of Babylon and even the exiles entered Babylonian through the same direction.
God`s manifestation in Babylon was intended to reveal to the exiles that God was Omnipresent.
At the Centre of the storm, Ezekiel saw what looked like four living creatures, the creatures represented God`s creation and each creature had four faces and four wings. They also had four human hands, one under each wing. Each living creature represented the unique traits possessed by each creature which were all part of God`s nature;-
- Lions face at the right: is the King of the Jungle (Masterful)
- Human face in front: Man is unique and very intelligent.
- Bulls face at the left: it`s believed to be very strong.
- An eagle`s face at the back: i.e. chief of the birds of the air and is believed to be very swift.
Each creature faced four directions and so the group could go everywhere they wished without having to turn. This symbolized that God`s presence was not limited to only one place but was to be experienced everywhere.
Among the creatures there was something that looked like a blazing torch constantly moving, this portrayed the glory of the Lord.
Above the heads of the creatures there was something that looked like a dome made of dazzling crystal and above the dome there was something that looked like a throne was a figure that looked like a man. It seemed to be shining like bronze in the middle of the fire. It shone with a bright light that had in it all the color of the rainbow. This was a dazzling light that shows the presence of the Lord.
The creature also had wheels, the rims of the wheels were covered with eyes, this portrayed that God is all seeing.
In summary, the vision refers to Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience etc.
Ezekiel had to take the message to the people whose lives had become meaningless to them, he had to try to communicate to them that their God had come to save them.
The vision also proved the fact that Ezekiel was used by God to turn the hearts of the people back to their God.
EZEKIEL`S CALL TO BE A PROPHET (Chapter 2:3-15) AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
- The Lord called him by using a special title “Mortal man”. This title distinguished man from God. Man is a human being as constructed by God who is a super power.
- Ezekiel faced downwards on the ground. This was a sign of respect to the Lord.
- God`s spirit entered him and raised him to his feet. This gave him power to speak for the Lord.
- Ezekiel was to prophecy to stubborn people who had turned away from God. The Jews in exile lived in poor and intolerable conditions.
- Most of the educated and skilled people were used by the Babylonian to work but this helped them to keep up their knowledge and skills. Some Jews believed that their God was defeated and powerless blamed what happened to them on their sinful ancestors so such people would find it very difficult to understand what Ezekiel witnessed and even to accept his teachings about individual responsibility of sin.
- Ezekiel was commanded to eat a scroll. This portrays that he was to observe, take in the message he was to receive, God`s words were for him as well but were given in a unique way . he was to speak God`s message.
- The scroll was written on both sides, something which was unusual as one side was normally written on. This symbolized the great responsibility and burden of the prophet`s task is being a spokesman of God.
- On the scroll there were writings; cries of grief were written there, wails and groans. This was a manifestation of doom.
- The scroll also tasted as sweet as honey. This portrayed the joy Ezekiel experienced in his new relationship with God. It also focused on the good message for the exiles (future restoration of the Kingdom to its former glory).
- Ezekiel was commanded by God to speak to the Jews, but none of the people will be willing to listen. God will make him stubborn and as tough as they are, firm as a rock and hard as diamond. God was to give him strength and will to enable him accomplish his task.
- God`s spirit lifted him up and he heard a loud roar of a voice that said “Praise the Glory of the Lord in heaven above” he heard the wings of the creatures beating together in the air, the noise of the wheels as loud as an earthquake. This showed the mighty power of the Lord`s presence.
- Ezekiel felt bitter and angry. This portrayed spiritual blindness and ignorance about the behavior of the Jews.
- Ezekiel stayed with the exiles for 7 days at Tel Abib beside River Chebar overcome by what he had witnessed. The 7days were meant to prepare him to begin with his prophetic ministry (period of concentration as a priest). He was to renew his commitment; he was to serve God in Babylonia as a priest and a prophet in a new kind of ministry.
- The call also manifested God`s love for people because he revealed himself to Ezekiel in exile.
- The call also portrayed that God can call upon anyone to serve him irrespective of one`s status.
- After spending the 7days recovering from the experience of his vision, he received another message. This privilege of being called to be a servant of God, brought other responsibilities Ezekiel was commenced to be a watchman to other people. He had to command those who were doing good, and to condemn those who were sinning against the Lord. His duty was to warn others of the impeding dangers.
- Ezekiel witnessed the Lord`s presence. He was instructed to go to the valley and there he witnessed the glory of the Lord. The lord instructed him to continue himself to his known house. He was also informed that he will not be able to talk i.e. he will become incapable of speech until when the Lord will give him the power of speech. This meant that God, was fade up with people who would not listen therefore Ezekiel was to speak to those in future.
- It was also intended to draw the attention of his fellow exiles to his strange behavior to make them aware that Ezekiel will only speak to them in future as God directed him.
EZEKIEL WAS TO ACT SIEGE 4:1-4
Before beginning to speak to his fellow exiles, Ezekiel was commanded by God to perform several prophetic signs. In the 1st sign, he was to get a brick, place it in front of him scratch lines to it to represent the siege. He was to put trenches, earth works.
He was to set up an iron pan and set it up like a wall between Ezekiel and the city. Ezekiel was to face the city and this implied that he was the one be sieging it.
Ezekiel himself represented god whose will was that Jerusalem should be besieged and destroyed because of the sins of its people. It`s believed that the iron pan represent the strength of the attacking army.
LIE DOWN ON YOUR SIDE (4:5-11)
Ezekiel`s sign involves symbolic acceptance of the sin of the divided people of Israel and Judah. He was to lie down on his side for 390 days to suffer on behalf of the people of Israel. He was also to turn on the right side and suffer for the guilt of Judah for 40 days. The period indicated a longer time in exile. It was believed that each day represented a year.
Ezekiel was to fix his eyes on the siege of Jerusalem, shake his fist at the city and prophecy against it. This portrayed readiness to fight and prophecy against the city.
Ezekiel was also restricted on the amount of food to be eaten and water to take. He was only allowed 230 grams of bread a day. He was also supposed to take limited amount of water (2 cups a day). This portrayed that there was to be scarcity of food and water during the time of the Siege which eventually lead to starvation.
BAKE BREAD ON A FIRE (4:12-15)
Ezekiel was to build the fire out of dried human excrement bake bread on the fire and eat it when exposing himself. This sign meant that during exile the Israelites will be forced to eat food which the law forbids or even engage in dirty things in order to survive.
EZEKIEL HAD TO CUT HIS HAIR (5:1-17)
The Lord commanded Ezekiel to take a sharp sword and use it to shave his hair and the beard. Shaving off the hair was a sign of mourning. He was mourning for the people and their city.
The sword which Ezekiel used symbolized the war which would destroy the city.
Ezekiel was also to weigh the hair on scales and even divide it into different parts. He was to burn 1/3 of it in the city, when the siege is over. This indicated that 1/3 of the people were to die of a plague.
A COOKING POT
Ezekiel set a pot on fire which was filled with water, meat and body parts, it was burnt until everything was destroyed. This symbolized that Jerusalem city murderers is doomed. Jerusalem and her inhabitants were to be totally destroyed.
He was also to chop another 1/3 with a sword. This was also a sign of destruction.
He was also to scatter the remaining 1/3 to the winds. This was also a sign of destruction.
Ezekiel was also to keep a few hair rap them in his cloak. This portrayed that a few people were to be restored.
EZEKIEL WAS TO JOIN 2 STICKS (37:15FF)
Ezekiel was instructed to get 2 sticks, write on one Judah and the other Israel then he was to join together so that they become one. This portrayed that the lord will join Israel and Judah.
EATING FOOD IN A HURRY
God told Ezekiel to eat while quaking and trembling. This was to signify how people will eat food in a hurry during the days of the attack.
God told him to dance with a sword striking it down again and again. This signified how the Israelites would be butchered and all that would be a workmanship of God because of their wickedness.
REFUSAL TO CARRY OUT FUNERAL SERVICES WHEN HIS WIFE DIED
He never carried out funeral service for her, this signifies that the news about the fall of Jerusalem will be terrifying and tears to express it fully. It signified that the dead will be too many to have normal funeral services for them.
While in exile they had to do certain things which were against their tradition and praising foreign gods and Kings, eating human beings.
HOW WERE THE ABOVE SIGNS FULFILLED
- The two kingdoms were reunited.
- The people of Israel were exiled.
- The people were subjected to different humiliation as pre supposed by the sign of cutting of the hair and distributing it in different portions.
- They got involved in different things that contaminated them.
- Jerusalem was attacked and besieged 43yrs before it fell.
- The Israelites were to the extent that they had to surrender.
- The people of Judah were carried off to exile in Babylonia
- The people of Judah had limited supplies during the siege and on the way to Babylon.
- The scattering of the hair came true in that the Israelites were scattered in many different lands.
- The sword he used symbolized the war which destroyed Jerusalem in 587BC and 586 BC.
THE THEME OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY OF SIN (18:1-FF)
- Ezekiel tried to challenge their historical misconception that they were suffering because of their parent`s sins. They had a sense of corporate guilt i.e. guilt stemming from the community as a whole. It was derived from a common saying that the parents ate sour grapes and the children got a sour taste.
- Ezekiel`s teachings challenges the exiles and assures them that God cares for each of them individually. Life is God`s gift to each person who by his ability has a right to choose between good and bad. The one who sins is the one to die.
- A righteous person is described as one who lives according to the law, does not worship idols, is not guilty of sexual offences does not cheat etc. a righteous man who does not worship idols, eats sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines, reduce another maris wife, such a person will live.
- If a righteous man turns away and resorts to evil, he will be punished.
- A sinful man will be punished because of his sinful nature.
- If an evil man turns away from his evil ways, he will live, God is ready to forgive the man who did evil, but then turns from it and chooses God.
- If a righteous man produces a son who cheats, eats sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines, worships idols etc. an evil son will not escape punishment because of the righteousness of his father but the father will live.
- If a sinful man produces a son who worships one God, obeys the Law, respects all people, the righteous son will not be punished for the evil done by his father but the father will die.
- If a righteous man has a son who lives according to the law, does not worship idols, isn’t guilty of sexual offences etc. both will live and will receive the lord`s blessings. However if a wicked man had a sinful son, both will die.
- Ezekiel illustrates the fact that God is a fair judge. Each one will be judged according to whatever she has done. This implies that God knows each individual.
- Ezekiel calls upon people to repent; he encourages them to get a new heart and spirit.
- Ezekiel was appointed by God to act as a watchman. He had to warn people and to encourage those who were doing right, each individual will be accountable for his sins. The lord is interested in seeing each one of us live.
SHEPHERD OF ISRAEL.
It`s believed that this prophecy come from the years before the fall of Jerusalem. The shepherds were the rulers of Israel while the sheep were the Israelites. God was going to denounce the rulers of Israel because they were neglecting their duties. God was an enemy of an unfaithful king. A ruler was appointed with God`s approval to be a servant of God.
The leaders neglected their responsibilities as illustrated below:
- The shepherds never attended to the sheep, they used to drink milk wore clothes made from wool, ate the finest sheep but never attended to the sheep.
- Leaders never take care of the weaker sheep.
- Leaders never healed those that were sick or even bandaged those that were hurt.
- They never bothered to trace those that wandered off over the hills.
- Leaders never protected them against wild animals.
God was ready to replace them with a better shepherd and the ruler will have exemplary attributes of King David.
God will bring together the scattered people, take them out of foreign cities and take them back to their land.
God will look for the people and take care of them as a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
God will bandage those that are hurt and heal those that are sick.
God will feel them on pleasant pastures. He will let them graze safely on the mountain the valleys and all the green pastures of the land of Israel.
The lord will judge each separate good from bad and judge between the strong for the weak people.
The lord will look for those that are lost and bring them back.
He will make an everlasting covenant of peace that will guarantee their security.
God will bless his people, he will bless them with showers of rain, trees will bear fruits and produce crops
The people will live in safety, prosperity and freedom.
JOHN 10:1-15 POTRAY JESUS AS A GOOD SHEPHERD
- Jesus was ready to accept each and every body; he has exclusive right to grant entry to each and every person.
- Jesus knew all believers and they also knew him 10:3
- Provided security towards the gate for the sheep. They had to believe and trust him.
- He was ready to die for their sins; he was ready to sacrifice himself for the sheep.
- Jesus was very ready to trace the scattered sheep and preach to them.
- He united them under one shepherd.
- He gave his people courage to enable them withstand persecutions.
- Jesus also works in the interest of his sheep, he cares for them, and he bandages those who are hurt and heals the sick.
- Those who accept his teaching are entitled to divine blessings
Ezekiel was led around the valley where the ground was covered with dry bones. Ezekiel had to prophecy to them they were to be covered with flesh and come back to life.
While he was prophesying the bones came back together in a ratal they got flesh, sinews and the skin covered them but they were still dead.
He also prophesied to the winds, breath entered the bodies they came back to life, stoop up and were enough to form an army.
The bones represented the Israelites, their hope had dried up but God was ready to bring them out the graves and take them back to their land.
Ezekiel Vision of Valley of Dry bones explained.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VISION
It was a prophecy of resurrection of the dead; the Israelites were equivalent to a seed buried in the ground which develops into a plant. This portrays that God has power to create un equally powerful transformation would be applied to Israel and the dead nation would one day be revived. They will return back to their land.
The vision indicated that their restoration was God`s work, it is Yahweh who used the Babylonians to punish the Israelites because their sinful nature.
The vision proved God`s creative powers as clearly illustrated in the creation accounts, the dry bones received life, got sinews and muscles. This implied that God is the source of life.
The vision portrayed God`s special powers. It was because of those special powers that the bones joined together got sinews and muscles.
The vision portrayed the omnipresence of the Lord. He appeared to Ezekiel in a foreign land through the vision. This challenged their belief that God was confined in Judah and Israel.
It also portrayed god`s special love which he extended to his people in exile though they were still sinful and in exile, he still cared for them and wanted them to reform. He was ready to bring them back to their land.
The vision focused on the reality of life after death. The theme of resurrection is developed by Christ in the New Testament. It is more applicable to those who are ready to listen and accept the word of God with faith.
The vision focused on both physical and spiritual restoration, spiritual in the sense that God would inspire them with the Holy Spirit to change their sinful nature and physical in the sense that he would give them new life as he covered the bones with sinews, muscles and the skin.
The vision portrays that God sometimes works with human beings when doing spiritual hearings like how he asked mortal man to advise him on what to do.
Ezekiel strengthened the Israelites
God fulfills his promises if you believe in him.
MESSAGES OF HOPE
- The Lord will reunite the 2 Kingdoms. Ezekiel illustrated this by joining 2 sticks together, they will have one King and will never again be divided Chapter 37:15-55
- The lord will give them a King like his servant David. The New King will have all the worthy attributes of King David 34:23-4
- The Israelites were to rise again and even to regain their strength according to the vision about the valley of dry bones. The bones joined together, got sinews, muscles and were even enough to form an army 37:1-14
- The Lord promised to be present in the land where they would go. This portrayed that he still cared for them. 11:16
- The Lord will give them a new heart and a new mind; he will take away the stubborn heart of stone and was to give them an obedient heart. 11:18-19
- God will humiliate the surrounding nations. The nations around will suffer 36:5-7
- The Lord was to accept the sacrifices that they would burn. 20:41
- The Lord was to bless his people, the people and the cattle were to increase in number, the Lord was to make them more prosperous than ever 36:11-12
- The Lord was to pour out his spirit and never again turn away from them 39:29
- Each tribe was to receive one section of the land. 48:1-47.
- The Lord will reveal himself to the people in Babylonia just as powerful as he did in the past. He promised to continue with them, show them his gracious love, and keep his covenant with them, restore them to their land and use them to show power to all nations.
- Ezekiel also stressed the fact that the individual was responsible to God who desired that he should live and not die. If people turned sincerely to God and respected his laws leaving their previous evil ways, they would live a worthwhile life. 18:1-ff.
- The Lord will let some escape the slaughter and be scattered among nations where they live in exile. There they will remember God and know that he punished them because of their faithlessness. They will be disgusted because of their evil and degrading things they have done. 6:8-9
MESSAGES OF DOOM.
All the cities of Israel will be destroyed; their entire altar and their idols will be smashed to pieces. 6:6
The Israelites were going to die in war by famine and diseases. These near will be killed in war and those who survive will starve to death. 6:11-12.
The Lord will let foreigners rule them. The law breakers will take all their wealth and defile it 7:21.
The priest will have nothing to teach the people and the elders will have no advice to give 7:26
The city will not protect the people as a pot protects the meat in it. The lord will punish the people and they will know that he is God.
False prophets were condemned; their names were not be included in the list of the citizens of Israel. They will never go back to their land.
The people will be disgusted of themselves because of their sinful nature 36:31-32
The Israelites will eat food which the law forbids. Even the Lord scatters them to foreign countries i.e. Ezekiel had to build a fire out of direct human excrement.
THE SINS WHICH PEOPLE COMMITTED
- Defiled the Lord`s temple with disgusting things.5:11-12
- They were proud of their wealth and were very violent 7:10-11
- They worshiped images and other unclean things 8:10-12
- They committed murder 9:9
- Leaders used to make evil plans and even used to give bad advice in the city.
- False prophets used to witness visions and would make false predictions 13:7
- Sacrifice their children to idols 16:19 God condemned human sacrifice.
- They failed to take care of the poor and the under privileged. 16:49
- Also took advantage of the widows and the orphans 22:7
- They used to tell lies 22:9
- Priests neglected their duties i.e. used to break the law, had no respect for holy places, never told people the differences between clean and unclean things, witnessed false visions and made false predictions used to look at Ezekiel as an entertainer.
- Should be in position to distinguish between true and false prophets
- Should do their work diligently
- Should always tell the truth
- Should respect the religious leaders and implement what they talk about.
- Should treat disadvantaged members fairly especially widows and orphans.
- Should learn to persevere in case of problems
- Should worship only one God
- Should respect holy places
- Should believe in God`s supreme powers. He managed to use the same route which the Babylonian gods used. He even revealed himself to Ezekiel and the exiles in exile.
- Should accept their mistakes and should always endeavor to repent.
- Should believe in the omnipresence of the Lord as illustrated in the vision of the chariot`s throne.
- Should respond positively to God`s call. God can call upon anyone to carry out a religious obligation.
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