These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Ezekiel 1:1-3 ~
“In the thirtieth year” – doesn’t say 30th year of what. I lean toward this meaning the 30th year of Ezekiel’s life. If that’s the case he started his ministry as a semi-young man, and at the same age as Jesus (also significant that he is called “Son of Man”, as Jesus was…in these ways he was perhaps a type for Jesus)
Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah. So you’ll see similarities in their prophecies. But whereas Jeremiah was parked with the people in Israel, Ezekiel is actually with the captives who were taken over to Babylon.
“I saw visions…the word of the LORD came” (Ezek. 1:1-2). I find this a fascinating pattern. You’ll see it in a lot of the prophetic books. They’ll talk about seeing things, but then it comes out as a word. Even in Revelation it says: “I turned to see the voice” (Rev. 1:12). Pause. How do you SEE a VOICE? There seems a big overlap in God’s economy between vision/seeing and hearing/speaking. In fact, prophets were called “seers” because God gives them vision, but then they are the ones who are supposed to speak and proclaim the prophecy. Let’s pray for eyes to see and ears to hear (for the Lord has made them both) – Prov. 20:12

I also saw a lot of similarities with the book of Revelation. Specifically, the beast with multiple faces and when Ezekiel was told to eat the scroll in chapter 3 reminded me a lot of Revelation and the writing style of that book.

I’ve only read the first 4 or so chapters, but WOW…it’s really speaking to me. For instance: Along with what was said, there are clear similarities between Ezekiel and Revelation.

For instance, compare the vision of God’s glory at the beginning of Ezekiel with what is at the beginning of Revelation. Or the fact that Ezekiel talks of the sound of God as the sound of many waters. Etc. And it occurred to me how purposeful this is in Revelation. Consider that in Revelation God is calling his people out of the spiritual babylon they are in. This comes up at the end of the book, especially. Well, that’s the same for Ezekiel. He’s in Babylon, sees God’s glory there, but then later has a vision of them coming out.

I love how gruff and “real” Ezekiel is. Ch. 3 gets me every time where Ezekiel is literally pulled up by God, put in a different location, and seems frustrated about it. He’s just a gruff guy–God needed someone like that, though, for the assignment at hand.

I’m struck that his ministry is to people who won’t hear his message. This shows that sometimes God wants us to speak as a witness to others, even though they won’t receive.

BTW…I found this a really helpful teaching on the book of Ezekiel by D.A. Carson: https://youtu.be/SpSVdSW16DA

One common refrain that I have seen a few times in Ezekiel 5-7 is the phrase “then they will know that I am the LORD.”
God describes a bunch of absolutely horrible things and tells Ezekiel that this will wake God’s people up to who is actually in charge.

This kind of reminds me of Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death.” All of Israel’s idolatry and rebellion resulted only in heartache and distance from God.

…I’ve also been struck by the intense consequences God gives out–and does so out of necessity, as the Scripture says. He is holy and His name/reputation is on the line. When his people do these sorts of abominable practices repeatedly, He has to step in and show that He doesn’t tolerate that.

I was really touched by the vision of God’s glory leaving the temple and going to Babylon. He even says in Ezekiel 11:16 – “Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” In other words, his glory has left Jerusalem. And now you are to find His presence in exile. This confirms Jeremiah’s words about God calling them to accept their punishment and go to Babylon. That this is where God desired them. Yet the people refused the punishment.

Lastly, I was thinking about Ezek 13 and Jer 23 yesterday. How lots of prophecies, visions, and dreams were happening, but it was “self-generated” not “God-generated”. Definitely an easy trap to fall into, and why the objective word-of-God in Scripture is so precious: “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

I’ve been having a hard time with all the intense judgment and wrath in the book that is so unrelenting. Yet, I keep seeing this beautiful theme “so that you will know I am God.” It reminds me of the Romans 11:33-36 passage about His ways being so much higher and incomprehensible. The Lord desires to be known by His people and we are punished for our sin because He discipline’s those He loves. The story is chapter 24 is crazy about God taking Ezekiel’s wife and then telling him he is not able to grieve over here but ultimately it’s for the same purpose (see v. 24) “Thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign: according to all that he has done to you. When this comes, the. You will know that I am the Lord your God.”
Even in the Lord’s wrath you see Him again seeking out a remnant (see 22:30) “and I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (See the note from Psalms 106:23 on Moses). Such a shame that not another Moses could step up!

We always point to the dry bones passage in Ez. 37 but this passage about Israel’s new heart and spirit in ch. 11 foreshadows the vision for restoration to come for Israel (and our hearts). This is a good one to remember/memorize.

This struck me too brother…again, I see how God-centered the whole thing is. They can’t even give themselves a new heart, it only comes from God. Amen–we need you to come near, Lord Christ!

I think these 3 verses really speak to the heart of God. That none should perish but that we would all turn from our evil and purge it and follow Him and spend eternity with God.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all”

2 Peter 3:9 “the Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Man, the first 24 chapters of Ezekiel spoke to me in a lot of ways. I’m still processing (maybe a good thing we have a rest week in between the first half and second half of Ezekiel). A few thoughts for now:

There’s a place (or couple of places) where it talks about God giving them over to wickedness. And even God causing Babylon’s divination to “tell them” to attack Jerusalem. In such matters, I’m struck by how much God is really sovereign over all of this. It definitely doesn’t take away human responsibility. But it shows God’s sovereignty over all areas.
I’ve quoted ch. 13 a few times about having prophets speak from their own heart and spirit, not according to God’s word. I think this is a really good warning. Nowadays many people are eager to hear a “word from God” for this or that…or even give such words to others. I think this should be encouraged (1 Thes. 5 – “don’t quench the spirit. Don’t despise prophetic utterances”).

But there should be that warning that God’s objective, written word (Scripture) is the ultimate and final say. That alone cuts past the subjective feelings and unctions we might have: 1 Thes. 5: “Test all things hold fast that which is good.” (which is spoken right after it talks about not despising prophecy). Or Heb 4 – God’s word cuts between soul and spirit and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart.

Ch. 24 is very raw when God kills Ezekiel’s wife as a prophetic sign. But there’s a part where I think this points to every Christian marriage everywhere. That is, we all are prophetic signs of Christ (the husband) and His Church (the bride)–see Eph. 5. We need to look past self-fulfillment and happiness for marriage. Instead, think about what our marriage communicates to a dying world. It’s one of the loudest voices of Christ and the church that a non-believing world will listen to, IMHO. Along these lines, a good friend and mentor, Rich Geer, has had his wife in a practically vegetative state for 16 years or so. And we talk a lot about how his being faithful to her speaks of Christ being faithful to a church that is pretty inactive. Think about that: he doesn’t enjoy a lot of things of marriage. It’s not about being happy. But about being faithful and communicating Christ to a dying world (Ezek. 24 actually was a word that spoke to both of us at the time when Carol, Rich’s wife, first went practically brain dead).

I love how it talks about God giving us a new spirit (Ezek. 11), but also us making ourselves a new spirit (Ezek. 18:31). Again, it shows the mystery of how we choose God and yet He chooses us simultaneously.

I found it interesting that exactly half of the book (by chapter count) seemed focus on judgment for Judah (ch. 1-24). And now, starting with ch. 25, we can see the switch in focus to address judgment on other nations.

One of the judgments repeated is how they basically were happy with God judging Judah. As we’ll see later, Obadiah (the smallest book in the O.T.) has that same theme. It all reminds me of Prov. 24:17-18 – “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” (Prov. 24:17-18).

Experienced this firsthand years ago. There was a mission agency I was part of that I challenged on biblical grounds. This eventually led to them kicking me out. The Lord seemed to show me things that would happen in judgment to them for decisions they were making overall. For instance, I saw in Jeremiah where there was judgment with broken marriage for them leaving the Lord, and around that time the leader of this agency was starting with a divorce. It even happened that someone had a prophecy that the agency would be completely destroyed within 3 years if they don’t repent. Well, sure enough, 3 years later (maybe on the dot, as I recall–at least it was close), when there was a bust in the real estate sector, they had to go out of business (because they had a lot of investments tied up in real estate). I was relaying some of the earlier stuff with Jesse Higgins, and he quickly admonished me to not celebrate these devastating things happening to these people who “did me wrong”. It was such a good word and a swift kick in the butt for me. We all have issues; if the Lord needs to deal with some people / places severely in judgment, it’s not a thing to celebrate: “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ezek. 33:11)

I think that God, in the end, is showing us that his judgement will show His ultimate power.
25 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’”
Ezekiel 28:25-26

There is that refrain again. Ultimately God deeply desires that we all have a real relationship with him. He brings judgment, but even his judgement is brought with the hope that his people repent and turn to him and know him.

Maybe it can be said this way:

God must discipline Israel. But He doesn’t want the people to think that He has abandoned them or that His name is therefore not great (since his children are not great). So people who mock Him or his children in this time of judgment will themselves incur His judgment. All to show the glory and greatness of His name.

Aside: reading Eze 29, I was struck by the Leviathan imagery. It doesn’t say the name Leviathan (at least it hasn’t yet), but it’s this sea serpent that is very large. I know it’s an image of Egypt, but it seems like it has to have some basis in animals that were known to the people at the time in order for it to have meaning to them (kind of like Jesus using known items in His parables to talk about other matters). All to say, this could potentially be another indication that there was some kind of knowledge of dinosaur/dragon-like creatures that lived among them.

and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom.
Ezekiel 29:14

I find this astounding considering how lofty Egypt was in biblical times and how small their world power is today, yet they remain a nation. What a word!

When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 32:7-8

Worth pointing out that this is similar language to what you see in Revelation. Here it means that Egypt as a nation will be strongly defeated. It could have similar meaning (I.e. a nation getting defeated) in Revelation

Eze 33 is profound to me:

It shows that we are to be faithful to declare the message, but how they receive is not up to us (a theme for Ezekiel).
People have a warped sense of justice. Here they are in the height of their sinfulness, and yet have the audacity to say that it’s God who has a problem and doesn’t have justice correct (33:17). Sadly, I’m pretty sure there’s more truth than fiction in our own times on that subject (people sinning and yet thinking they are being treated unjustly).
Love the refrain that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (33:11)

LOVE that God is not quick to act, but looks to see if unrighteous people repent first. If they do, He’ll spare them from judgment. Similarly, He waits to see if righteous people actually turn away before He honors them. If they do, then they receive judgment not honor. Reminds me of the thief on the cross: after a life of sin, he could still be forgiven because he repented at the end. Gives a lot more depth to the statement of Ecc 11:3 – “if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.” In other words, God is not looking for how we start the race, but how we finish it. Lord, give us endurance to run well all the way through the finish!

The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
Ezekiel 34:4

The opposite of this shows what a godly shepherd looks like. May it be, Lord.

And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. Ezekiel 34:23

Fulfilled – John 10

What has been standing out to me throughout Ezekiel is the fact that God is the one who will ultimately get the glory. He brings judgement, and he also brings restoration. He fulfilled his promises to his people, and this all reflects back on HIM.

“I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Ezekiel 36:32

“My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
Ezekiel 37:27-28

All of the power on display reflects back on God. He does not restore Israel because they are so great, he does it because HE is so great! It kinda reminds me of Psalm 23 where it says, “He guides me in paths of righteousness for HIS name’s sake.” (Emphasis mine)

Ezekiel Reflections ~

In summary:

  • Ezekiel saw great apostasy in God’s people.
  • Thus God’s glory left their temple and took them all into Babylonian exile.
  • There is a day envisioned where the people will be restored and be more in unison with God.
  • This all happens for the glory and honor of God, and not because God’s people were particularly good.
  • Revelation borrows and extends from Ezekiel.

Personal Notes:

That’s an amazing book! I saw a lot of Revelation in that book, and think it makes sense because it uses the imagery in Revelation of the church being exiled in its own “Babylonian Captivity” (the Reformers interpreted this as the heretical Roman Catholic Church system of their day, and it emboldened them to leave it, as I understand…I think it is this but also more than this: it is the compromised church wherever it is found–the pinnacle of it is in Roman Catholicism…but the same issues find root in Eastern Orthodoxy and many Protestant denominations today…but I digress).

There was a verse that had me thinking of the broader theme: 46:9 – talks about people going straight ahead when they enter the new tabernacle. They weren’t allowed to turn around but had to exit at the opposite place where they came in. This matches precisely with the vision of God’s glory in Eze. 1 and 10. They only went forward and didn’t turn around. It shows a harmony between God’s glory and the new temple. It’s God and the Temple being totally 1. This is how we see Revelation ending, too. We get a glimpse of this today: the church is his temple and He lives within us. But it will happen ultimately later. Similarly, I think of Ezekiel 40-48 temple vision like I think of God’s kingdom on earth: It began with Jesus’ coming and the formation of the church; it happens spiritually today on a limited scale; but it will ultimately be realized when Jesus returns.

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