Thursday, March 2, 2017
Block 54: Ezekiel
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“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ” Psalm 51:10
The Book of Ezekiel is probably the most confusing book of the Bible. At first read, it is filled with confusing visions that are nearly impossible to interpret. Once you understand Ezekiel’s life story, the visions make a little more sense, and his writings become a beautiful, spiritual work. Ezekiel means “strengthened by God,” and you cannot help but be strengthened by God when you read and understand the Book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was a priest in Jerusalem and became a prophet at the age of 30. Ezekiel and other Israelites were taken captive by King Jehoachin of Babylon. While in captivity, Ezekiel started to behave very strangely. For a period of time, God took away his ability to speak except when God put words in Ezekiel’s mouth. God directed Ezekiel to make a draw an outline of the city of Jerusalem under siege on a brick. He directed Ezekiel to lie on the brick, on his left side for 390 days (equal to the number of years of Israel’s sins) and on his right side for 40 days. Word of the prophet’s strange behavior spread, and people came to see the weird prophet who couldn’t speak lying on his side on a brick. God directed Ezekiel to act out the siege of Jerusalem by shaving his head and dividing it into three piles. Luckily though, God returned Ezekiel’s ability to speak so he could explain what he was doing. Together with the prophet, Jeremiah, Ezekiel warned the Israelites that if they did not stop worshipping pagan idols, God would punish them. For eight years, Ezekiel was unable to speak unless God directed his speech. His full ability to speak returned on the day Jerusalem was destroyed and Ezekiel’s wife died.
After Jerusalem was destroyed, Ezekiel experienced a series of visions that promised hope for the restoration of temple and of the nation. He continued to warn the Israelites about their sinful behavior, but also provided them with encouragement that the New Temple and New Jerusalem would be created and God would live among His people once again. The Israelites did not listen well, and God designated Ezekiel to be the “watchman for all of Israel” Ezekiel 3:17, otherwise Ezekiel would be held accountable for those who would be punished. Ezekiel headed God’s warning and was steadfast in delivering the warnings to all who would listen. was a faithful man and followed God’s laws religiously. His prophecies jumped ahead to a future world when Israel would be fully restored and never defeated by an enemy nation again.
By Ezekiel’s example, we are all called to be watchmen of our faith, sharing the Gospel with all who will listen. It’s not okay to shirk our responsibility and ignore the sinners around us. We are compelled to try to reach all those we come in contact with.