Friday, June 07, 2013

Bible Briefs: Ezekiel

Series Introduction: Bible Briefs are a short introduction and summary of the overview of a book of the Bible, with a view to helping people take up their Bible and knowing what it's about.

The book of the prophet Ezekiel has always struck me as particularly odd. Perhaps it’s the opening chapter with the amazing vision given to the prophet with its details of the living creatures and the wheels within wheels which is hard to picture, and hard to understand. Having made it through chapter one, the reader is then faced with 23 chapters of doom, as the judgement and desolation of Jerusalem and Judah is declared.

As if the words weren’t enough, Ezekiel is commanded to act out the judgement by besieging a model of the city (4); by cutting his hair with a sharp sword (5); packing his bags and digging through the wall (12); and most horrific of all, by not mourning when his wife passes away (24).

The weight of the chapters lies heavy on the reader. The message is unmistakeable - sinners will not stand in the judgement of a holy God. That message is amplified as Ezekiel turns to the nations and addresses the same word to them (25-32). It seems as if there is no hope at all.

The people of God have neglected their God; the promises of God to Abraham look as if they will fail. What will happen? In the midst of the gloom, suddenly comes the promise of a new covenant - for the sake of God’s holy name - a new promise of a new heart and a new spirit leading to covenant faithfulness (36).

Ezekiel is taken to that most famous of his chapters, the valley of dry bones (37). Israel is dead and dried up, but these dry bones come together and live by the breath of the Spirit. New life is given in the place of death; leading to the vision of the restored (and greatly expanded) temple and city, the name of which closes the book: ‘The LORD Is There’ (48:35).

We find that the message of Ezekiel is not weird at all - it’s the story of the good news as it points to the salvation we have in the Lord Jesus. We, under the judgement of God, ‘dead in our trespasses and sins’ (Eph 2:1), like those dry, dusty bones, are made alive in Christ and being built into the spiritual temple (1 Pet 2:5) where we will dwell forever with God. You could almost say that it’s the Gospel According to Ezekiel - thanks be to God!

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