November 21, 2018
God revealed His purpose for describing a future temple to Ezekiel (referred to here as “Son of man”). Ezekiel’s temple has never been built. Solomon built the first, which was destroyed by the Babylonians, as Ezekiel’s prophecy predicted. Zerubbabel built the second, which was super-sized by Herod the Great, but destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Ezekiel’s temple is sometimes called the “Third Temple,” or the “Millennial Temple.” Depending on one’s eschatology, some would see it as describing a spiritual temple fulfilled by the church. Others would see a literal fulfillment in the last days or during the Millennial kingdom. Regardless, Ezekiel was to describe it, so that the people of Israel would be “ashamed of all their sins.”
Shame is an appropriate response to sin. Yet, there is a hardening of the heart which reduces shame to a dull tickling and then a complete denial. Ezekiel was to describe God’s future temple and returning glory, so that their hearts would feel shame, turning to God in repentance for forgiveness and salvation.
Christ is God’s provision for our sin and shame. He came to take the sin and shame of those would believe in Him.
November 14, 2018
PREACHING FOR GOD’S APPROVAL ALONE
Ezekiel, like many of God’s prophets, was not respected by his contemporaries. He was tasked with making known God’s future plans for men and nations that would soon come to pass. Yet, no generation wants its comfort disturbed. They would rather risk the warnings of an approaching hurricane than leave their beach vacation early. Today, Ezekiel is respected. His prophecies have been borne out. But people have not changed. God’s Word is still warning us to get ready, while much of humanity continues in its deafness to His voice. This does not excuse us from being like Ezekiel and warning them anyway. We do this for God’s approval, not theirs.
November 13, 2018
A FUNERAL DIRGE FOR A FALLEN KING
The Lord gave the prophet Ezekiel the words for a dirge to be sung for the king of Tyre. Yet, the words to the funeral song seem to at times describe the state of Satan before he was cast down. The lyrics might be seen as portraying Satan assigning divine attributes and honors to himself through his influence over the earthly king of Tyre. In some ways, this description of the king of Tyre foreshadows the beast spoken of in Daniel and Revelation.
So, who is this lament for? As the Scripture says, it is for the king of Tyre. Yet, it pulls back the curtain on the spiritual world, revealing both the influences and dark forces at work behind the scenes and the sovereign power of God over such realms.
November 10, 2018
UNTIL THE ONE APPEARS
The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy destruction over the kingdom of Judah because of their sin. This prophecy in the Hebrew repeats the word “avah” three times (עַוָּה עַוָּה עַוָּה), which adds to both the finality and the certainty of it. “Avah! Avah! Avah!” (“Destruction! Destruction! Destruction!”) says the Lord. Some suggest that the three-time repetition points to the three conquests of Jerusalem, in which the last Davidic kings, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, were overthrown.
Yet, more significant than the certainty of Judah’s destruction, is the prophecy concerning its future restoration by “the one” who is to appear. This “one” is identified by four features. (1) He will restore David’s kingdom. (2) By implication this means that he is from the line of David. (3) He has the “right to judge.” And (4) the Lord Himself will “hand it over to him.”
Who is this “one?” Was it Zerubbabel? No, although Zerubbabel was in the line of David and led the returning exiles to rebuild the Temple, he was never king. Was it one of the Herods? No, although the Herods carried the title of king, they were just political puppets under Rome and certainly not from the line of David.
So, who is this “one?” When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus this question: “Are you the one?” (Matt. 11:3). Jesus told them to go back to John and tell him what they had seen and heard, that the “the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matt. 11:5). Jesus is “the One!”
Someday Christ will return to completely fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy. And so we wait “until the One appears.”
November 5, 2018
IF GOD SAYS IT, IT WILL HAPPEN
The people of Judah would not listen to the warnings that God spoke through His prophet, Ezekiel. Indeed, a kind of proverb or saying was being repeated during his day: “Time passes, and prophecies come to nothing” (Ez. 12:22). The people had become hardened in their hearts, closing their ears to God’s word. They heard the warnings, but either discounted them as false, or delayed their consideration by saying they wouldn’t happen during their lifetimes. They were wrong on both accounts. For God did judge Jerusalem exactly as He said He would and during the very lifetimes of those who wouldn’t listen.
I wonder whether we are guilty of the same thinking sometimes? I’m sure there are those who doubt Christ’s second coming and the final judgment even though they have heard the warnings. Yet, there are even more who don’t doubt that it will happen, but lazily live their lives as though Christ will not come during their lifetimes. The prophecies concerning Christ’s return are 2,000 years old and still we have heard no trumpet, nor seen the parting of the heavens. So, many are lulled into lethargy.
Didn’t Jesus himself instruct us to “watch” and “be ready” (Matt. 24:42, 44), because He would return at an hour we do not expect? So, we watch, not passively, but actively, being ready by being busy about what Christ has commanded us to do until He returns. We do this because we believe that if God says it, it will happen.
November 3, 2018
WHO IS THIS MAN DRESSED IN LINEN?
Ezekiel was caught up in a vision, snatched by the hair of his head by the Spirit of God, to see Jerusalem from a heavenly perspective (Ez. 8:3). Much like the apostle John’s revelation, Ezekiel noted both the time and location when the “Sovereign Lord took hold” (Ez. 8:1) of him. In the vision, he heard the Lord call six men with deadly weapons to punish the city. It is of interest that the number six is the number of man, and on this occasion the number of the angels that God appointed to judge the sin of Judah.
Yet, with the six angels, there was a seventh man. This one dressed in linen and not armed with a weapon, but with a “writer’s case.” To this man dressed in linen, the Lord commanded that he put a “mark” on the foreheads of the penitent, so that they would not be harmed by the six angels of wrath. The Hebrew word for “mark” was represented by the Hebrew letter “Tav.” So, the man in linen was to put a “Tav” on the foreheads of those to be saved. It is of interest to note that the Hebrew “Tav” looked similar to a lower case “t” during Ezekiel’s day. Although Ezekiel would not have been aware, Christians see the sign of the cross in the “mark.”
Who is this man dressed in linen? Who can say? Only God knows. But certain details are worth noting. First, he was the seventh man and the number seven is the number of completion, the number of the Sabbath and the number of God. Second, he wore linen, a priestly garb representing purity. Third, he was sent to mark the penitent for salvation. And finally, he was fully obedient (Ez. 9:11). At the very least, this man dressed in linen represents God’s mercy. Some even see him as the preincarnate Christ. Whoever he is, he reminds us, as he did Ezekiel, that God is able to separate the sheep from the goats when the time for His judgment comes.
November 19, 2017
God gave Ezekiel a vision of a new temple in Jerusalem. The description is very detailed, so much so, that it is clear that it doesn’t describe Solomon’s temple from previous days, nor Zerubbabel/Herod’s in days after. Ezekiel’s temple has yet to be built. Those who read this vision metaphorically see a spiritual picture of the Church. Those who see the description as too specific and connected to the geography of Israel, see it as the temple that will be built during the millennial reign of Christ.
Ezekiel’s temple vision is a mystery and difficult to understand, yet it is filled with beauty and hope for the future. This hope is not in a temple made with human hands, but in the God who gives such visions and fulfills all of His promises. “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!'” (2 Cor. 1:20). One day we will understand Ezekiel’s temple vision as the Lord Jesus will give us full understanding.
November 18, 2017
There are as many interpretations as their are interpreters of this chapter in Ezekiel. Yet, I would humbly offer that it is a prophecy concerning an end times battle against Israel that has yet to be fulfilled. Nations from the North of Israel will attack Israel during a time of peace and God Himself will fight for Israel and defeat the armies of the North.
My comments are marked by the following principles of interpretation: 1) Scripture is divinely inspired, 2) Scripture should be interpreted as literally as the literary genre and context allow, 3) Scripture contains prophecies that have already been fulfilled as well as those yet to be fulfilled, and 4) the revelation of Scripture is progressive, so that later prophecies shed light on earlier ones.
Those who have a high view of Scripture see history heading towards an ultimate climatic victory of good over evil, Christ over Satan, and the judgment seat of God. The apostle John, like Ezekiel, had such a view of Scripture. He also prophesied of a future day when God would defeat Satan and the nations he deceived named, “Gog and Magog” (Rev. 20:7-9).
While certain details of this prophecy remain a mystery, such as the identity of “Gog and Magog” (Is it Russia as some contend?). The major predictions are clear. God revealed an end times war against Israel that God Himself will win. God will triumph in the end. Therefore, let us decide whom we will serve. Let us join Joshua in saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
November 16, 2017
The Lord called Ezekiel to be a “watchman.” A watchman keeps watch, especially during the night, while the city sleeps. He warns the city when he sees trouble approaching. Ezekiel was called to be God’s watchman, warning Israel of God’s coming judgment and calling them to repentance. The Lord would not hold him accountable for Israel’s response, only for his obedience to sound the alarm. If Ezekiel warned Israel and she did not repent, he was innocent of her blood. But if Ezekiel failed to warn Israel, her blood would be on his hands. This is the weight of responsibility that goes with being God’s watchman.
Who is called to be God’s “watchman” today?
November 15, 2017
The Lord told Ezekiel to write a funeral dirge for Pharaoh. This was not meant to comfort him, but to warn him of the Lord’s coming judgment against Egypt. Why? Because Pharaoh had acted as a “young lion,” going out from Egypt in violence and troubling other nations.
God is still sovereign over men and nations. He is not absent, but He is patient. As the psalmist declared, “God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne” (Psa. 47:8). The power of nations is nothing to the Lord. They are as a “drop in the bucket” to Him (Isa. 40:15-17). Yet, Jesus has sent us to the nations, saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). For the Lord would have those from every tongue and tribe represented in the body of Christ, which He has planned from eternity past.