The Book of Ezekiel
This prophecy comprehends all Israel. In it are given the governmental ways of God upon earth, of which Israel was the centre. Deut. 32: 8. Hence it does not mention the times of the Gentiles or the four monarchies, but passes on to the end, when the throne of government will again return to Jerusalem, instead of judging it.
The book divides itself into distinct portions:
- - the first extends to the end of Ezek. 24. After the first chapter the testimony is against Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. This part of the prophecy being given before the destruction of Jerusalem, that melancholy event naturally occupies a large place.
- The second portion is respecting God's judgements on the nations that surrounded the promised land, and which had been more or less connected with Israel: Ezek. 25 to end of Ezek. 32.
- The third portion is the judgement on Israel, and upon Gog and its allies in the future; and then the blessing of all Israel. Ezek. 33: to end of Ezek 39.
- The fourth portion is the future temple, its service, and the division of the land, ending with the joyful tidings that the name of the city will then be "The Lord is there." Ezek. 40: to the end.
We have here a wonderful vision of the government and providence of God on earth, but united with the throne in heaven. Compare the four living creatures with those described in Rev. 4: 6-8.
* The thirtieth year of Ezek. 1: 1 is doubtless the year of the Babylonian kingdom which was founded by Nabo-polassar in B.C. 625: the thirtieth year would be 595, which agrees with the fifth year of Jehoiachin's captivity.
Ezek. 2, Ezek. 3
are preliminary. Ezekiel must speak, whether Israel will hear or not: he must eat (that is, accept in his own soul) the book of prophecy, and be faithful in warning the wicked.
Ezek. 4 - Ezek. 7
The destruction of Jerusalem. It was portrayed on a tile, and the prophet had to lie on his left side 390 days for Israel, and 40 days on his right side for Judah, to bear their iniquities - a day for a year. The 390 days were probably from the division of the kingdom in B.C. 975 till 588, the destruction of Jerusalem - 388 entire years or nominally 390 - 'Israel,' as often, representing the ten tribes. It is not so manifest to what the 40 years for Judah refer: it was for the iniquity of Judah, and may refer to the reign of Manasseh before his captivity and reformation, for that is pointed out as the crowning sin of Judah, and for which they were sent into captivity. 2 Kings 21: 11-13.
speaks of the idolatry that was in connection with the temple though much of it was in secret and had to be dug out.
The remnant who lament over the abominations are marked in their foreheads. It is well pleasing to God that any should mourn over the evil in connection with His name, even though they cannot rectifyit.
Ezek. 10, Ezek. 11
The cherubim act againstJerusalem. The rulers are condemned, but there is mercy and restoration for the pious remnant.
The flight and captivity of Zedekiah are foretold.
The false prophets in Jerusalem are judged. In all ages one must have the mind of God in order to escape the teaching of such.
Ezek. 14, Ezek. 15
God's judgements of Jerusalem and its people.
The original state of Jerusalem as a cast-out infant, but loved and cherished by God. Her great sin is related, but there is mercy inthe end.
Ezek. 17 - Ezek. 20
Instruction under various parables.
Ezek. 21 - Ezek. 24
The invasion and destruction of Jerusalem; during the relation of which the wife of Ezekiel, the desire of his eyes, died.He was not to mourn for the loss, and when the captives inquired of him what they were to learn from this, they were told that when God's judgements fell upon the temple and upon their sons and daughters, they were not to mourn; but to pine away for their iniquities and in groaning one to another.
Ezek. 25 - Ezek. 32
are the prophecies against the Gentile nations which surrounded Palestine, and which had at one time or another intercourse with Israel. The prophecies are against Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. Against Tyre literally and as a type of its arts, in contrast to Israel as the people of God - a prophecy that stretches beyond history. In it is the remarkable description of an 'anointed cherub,' giving the features of one who was at one time in a very exalted position; but who fell from his integrity and became the enemy of God; which is doubtless a description ofSatan. Ezek. 28: 11-19. Ezek. 28: 20-26 are against Zidon. Ezek. 29 to end of Ezek. 32 are against Egypt, which is typical of the pride of nature, or the world of nature.
are prophecies against Israel, to be followed by future restoration and blessing, and judgement on those who will oppress them. In Ezek. 33 - 35. God reasons with His people. In Ezek. 36 there is blessing for them.
is restoration, under the vision of the valley of dry bones and the two sticks. It has been thought by many, because of the graves being opened, and the people being brought out of their graves, that this passage refers to the resurrection of the body; but the people are saying, before the graves are opened, "Our bones are dried and our hope is lost," the exact feeling of many to this day. The resurrection is used as a figure of life being given to Israel, and also to Judah. The two nations are to be one, an exceeding great army, and they will be gathered into their own land. It need hardly be said that this cannot apply to those of Judah who returned under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is still future, and will surely be accomplished.
Ezek. 38, Ezek. 39
The restoration of Israel will be opposed. Gog and Magog will be the chief opponents. In Ezek. 38: 2, instead of "O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal," the LXX reads, "O Gog, . . . . Rosh, prince of Mesoch and Thobal," and so again in Ezek. 39: 1. This is held to be the true meaning and that Rosh refers to Russia, and that it will be the head of that nation that will be the chief enemy of Israel when they are brought back to their own land. The enemies will be destroyed, and Israel will be blessed.
Ezek. 40 - Ezek. 48
refer to the future temple and the sacrifices, with the division of the land among the twelve tribes. As this prophecy was delivered many years before Zerubbabel and the exiles returned, it has been thought by some that the temple here spoken of refers to the temple which they built, though they might not have attempted to build according to the plan here laid down. But in Ezekiel the instructions for the temple follow the restoration of the twelve tribes, and the destruction of their opposing enemies. There was nothing approaching that in the return under Zerubbabel. Here too it is linked with dividing the whole land among the twelve tribes: it must therefore certainly be still future.
A difficulty has arisen in the minds of some with regard to the resumption of animal sacrifices. Whilst the efficacy of the blood of Christ must over remain unimpaired before God, there are certainly differences in its application. Christians have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus: Jews, as such, have no such privilege. The most holy place will be again found in the temple, a comparative distance from God being maintained for man on earth, and the renewed sacrifices are consistent with this state of things. They must however have a commemorative character.
Besides the temple, for which full details are given; and besides the sacrifices and feasts (remarkable for the absence of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Weeks), there is A PRINCE mentioned, and a portion of land allotted to him, together with the sacrifices he will offer. If these things are taken literally, all is plain and easy to be understood. Doubtless the prince will be a representative of the royal house of David.
That there is deep moral import in the details is evident from Ezek. 43: 10, 11, though there may be many physical changes in the land. A river is to flow from the sanctuary, and will have trees growing on its banks and will transform the Dead Sea into one full of life, with all manner of fish: cf. Joel 3: 18; Zech. 14: 8. The whole of the land will be possessed and be divided into twelve portions (besides a holy portion for the sanctuary, the priests, the Levites, and the city, the temple not being built in the future Jerusalem:see TEMPLE,EZEKIEL'S). The position of each tribe is duly stated. The condition of the city will be entirely changed from the ruin and wretchedness that now characterise it under the judgement of God; and the name of it from that day shall he "The Lord is there."
The Book of Ezekiel is thus full of interest to the Christian as showing the great care God had for His people during their captivity, and the bright scene of future earthly blessing that is spread out before them. Some of the prophecies were literally fulfilled in times past: surely then the rest ofthe events foretold, which have not yet been fulfilled, are as certain as those which have. It is God who has spoken, and He it is who will bring it all to pass.