Ezekiel is a book of hope under captivity. The book deals with the Babylonian captivity at one level,- insofar as much it is an historical fact, and on the other has a wider significance in which refers to the Christians. We are captives in one sense by a world scoffing at the Word and God as some fables. We are ridiculed for being out of step with the times.
We are captives in an ever growing climate of skepticism. We are spiritual Israel as St. Paul makes a case in his epistles. The twists and turns in the history of Israel, in the wilderness or under Babylonian captivity, can be applied in general sense to God’s people.
St.Paul uses analogy of Jews as natural olive tree to which Christians as wild branches from a wild olive Tree (Ro.11:14) are grafted. He further speaks of it in his epistle to the Church of Corinth. ‘Now all these things happened unto them (Israel) for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition…'(I Co.10:11) In our spiritual journey we can see whatever happened to the Children of Israel can well be lifted to serve a warning to us.
Hope as an anchor
Ezekiel’s ministry was under the command of God. The vision in the beginning was in order to make the prophet understand who was in control over the children of Israel. He has his eye on their pitiable state. The prophets of the captivity were to give them courage and hope. Hope that must be set beyond immediate circumstances.
For us hope is like an anchor thrown past the present earthly circumstances. Our faith feeds hope and our sojourn here is on this strength. Faith is drawn from the Word and hope gives us the means to face the challenges of every day and night. What is our hope thst Word can give us? ‘My presence shall go with thee and give thee rest.’ (Ex. 33:14)
Our hope has another side that is as important as only experience of Christian living can teach us. The Word made flesh in the person of Jesus. He is the forerunner and become the firstborn for the Church.
In the book of Zechariah chapter 4 gives the vision of two olive trees by the candlestick. Who are these two anointed ones? Christian living is on hope from the Word and Spirit. Spirit makes the words real and part of Christian experience. Since Sprit was poured out on all on the day of Pentecost we have the assurance that by faith we read word in literal sense and also experience as our Redeemer intended for us. Spirit and Word are what fills us to bear his testimony.
This hope is set for us as an anchor (Heb.6:19-20)ever since he entered past the Veil. Christ Jesus has shown us a new and living way whereby we know how to carry our burden. Or rather we know where to place despair and frustrations that we face in our everyday lives. Isaiah writes prophetically , ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.;(Is.53:4). .
Our salvation is laid in the hands of our Redeemer and he is seated in the heavenly places. Would it not mean that our only portion,- the best part, is in the hands of our Savior? It must be clear and self evident therefore that we are aliens on the earth and are here under His care. Hope like an anchor past the earthly circumstance must hold. Surely.
God gave the children of Israel a promised land. But just as they learnt the ways of the world and departed from their steadfast faith, God allowed them to be tested by the political condition of the nations. Egypt, Assyria and Babylon were the major players at the time of the prophets.
Under the political upheavals of that time fortunes of Israel and Judah suffered. God sent his prophets time and after time to make his people see error of their ways and learn to trust him.
Despite of all these gloom and doom Lord God reigns supreme!
The book opens with the glory of God appearing to Ezekiel in a vision. The book can be divided into three parts.
Oracles of Judgment against Israel (chs. 1–24)
Oracles of Judgment against the Nations (chs. 25–32)
Oracles of Consolation for Israel (chs. 33–48)
The OT in general and the prophets in particular rest on God’s sovereignty over all creation, over people and nations and the course of history. And nowhere in the Bible are God’s initiative and control expressed more clearly and pervasively than in the book of Ezekiel. From the first chapter, which graphically describes the overwhelming invasion of the divine presence into Ezekiel’s world, to the last phrase of Ezekiel’s vision (“the Lord is there”) the book sounds and echoes God’s sovereignty.
I shall try to cover the book in a series of posts in the coming year.