Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 24: Friday
“Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. (On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile, the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him.)”
Friday’s Bible reading is Ezekiel 1–6. Ezekiel was both priest and prophet, and he prophesied while living among the exiled Jews in Babylon, who had been taken there by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C., before the destruction and burning of Jerusalem.1 Ezekiel began prophesying after Jeremiah was called by God as a prophet in Judah, but before the final events recorded in the book of Jeremiah, and he continues his prophetic ministry until well after Jerusalem falls (cf. 40:1). Gleason Archer has this introduction to the book:
“The Hebrew name Yeḥezeqē’l means God strengthens. The theme of Ezekiel’s prophecy is that the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity are necessary measures for the God of grace to employ if He is to correct His disobedient people and draw them back from complete and permanent apostasy. But the day is coming when Jehovah will restore a repentant remnant of His chastened people and establish them in a glorious latter-day theocracy with a new temple.”2
Like Jeremiah, there are precise references to when Ezekiel began to prophesy, and God also directs Ezekiel to do various symbolic object lessons for the Jews; however, Ezekiel is also a prophet of visions, and there are numerous ones throughout the book. God tells Ezekiel He is sending him to the stubborn and rebellious people of Israel, but whether or not they listen to him, Ezekiel is to speak God’s words to them (cf. 2:7).
At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. However, if you have warned [at]the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.”
God’s truth cannot be changed or muffled according to people’s reaction to it. It must be spoken faithfully—the consequences are eternal.
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1, 2Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 368.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter