Ezekiel: Purposes of God

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Purposes of God

Before, During, and After the Exile.

Background: Ezekiel was taken to Babylon (597 BC) before the fall of Jerusalem and ministered to the exiles
Theme: The purposes of God revealed through judgment and blessing
Outline: Judgment on Judah, Judgment on the Nations, and Blessing on Israel
Key Verse: "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt.'" (Ezek 36:33, NIV)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol I, Old Testament) is an excellent resource and is referred to as the BKC.

I. Judgment on Judah (1-24)

A.  Vision Commissioning Ezekiel (ch 1-3)

2.4 Sovereign LORD (adonay Yahweh) would be more exactly translated as Lord Jehovah. The Jews (and Jesus) substituted the word 'adonay' (LORD) for the divine name 'Yahweh' (Jehovah), but in this case the adonay occurs with Yahweh. It would more literally be translated 'Lord Jehovah' but the NIV follows custom by not using the divine name Jehovah, hence Sovereign LORD. This name stresses the lordship of God in both Hebrew and English, in a manner similar to the Christian use of the title Lord Jesus.  The use of Lord in these cases is not simply a title such as Sir, but acknowledges that the LORD is our Sovereign, the one who rightfully rules.

3.1-3 The eating of the scroll is a graphic depiction of the Lord's word being put in Ezekiel's mouth. The word 'prophet' emphasizes the speaking of the word of God, the word 'seer' emphasizes the seeing of visions. Both may be applied to Ezekiel.

6.14 Diblah, an unknown city, possible Riblah in the south of Judah.

8.1 DATE 592 BC

11.17 The major reason for a future fulfillment is that during historical times (Ezra, Nehemiah) and present times this prophecy and the conditions following have not been completely fulfilled. The Israelites have, however, been cured of Idolatry, the most visible serious sin leading to this judgment and prominent in this vision.

11.18-19 It is to be remembered that during the Church Age, all believing Israelites are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. The very early church was predominantly Jews, they became part of the church but did not lose their Israelite heritage. There can be no believing Israelite today apart from faith in Jesus Christ, for Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father but by me." This does not mean that non-Christian Jews are not loyal to their culture and heritage, they do have a form of godliness but without the power.

13.5 This is one of many places in Scripture where the Hebrew 'yom' (day), even a specific one such as 'The Day', does not necessarily refer to a 24 hour period. Here it is perhaps a 7 year period (the tribulation), a 24 hour day in which the Lord returns (2nd coming of Christ), or even a 1000 year period (Millennium).

14.12-20 Some interpreters teach that the Church will be absent during this event, and the purpose of the Tribulation is for God to pour out judgment and wrath upon the world. Other premillennarians see the Tribulation as a time when the Church is present and wins a 'great multitude' to faith in Jesus, is spite of great persecution. According to the latter view the time of wrath is poured out on the earth following the rapture (after at least a significant part of the tribulation has passed) but before Jesus returns all the way to the earth, this is the 'day of wrath'. It is a much shorter time than the seven year tribulation.

14.21-23 The character of the refugees will vindicate God's judgment on the land. Therefore, these particular refugees survive only by God's mercy, it will be evident that they too deserved death.

19.12-14 Although Babylon is east of Israel, in scripture it is referred to as an enemy from the north. Because of desert between the two lands, armies and trade caravans followed the fertile land (fertile crescent) and would approach Israel from the north. The symbolism of what the east wind, very hot, would do to the land is appropriate for the use of Babylon as God's instrument of judgment, but the direction of the wind being from the east is not symbolically significant here and Babylon should not be thought of as 'blowing in from the east'.

20.1 DATE: Aug 14, 591 BC

20:44 On the issue of the certainty of the fulfillment of the covenant promises to Israel, the LORD states the basis of fulfillment will be "my name's sake and not according to your evil ways ..."

24.1 DATE: Jan 15, 588 BC

II. Judgment on Gentile Nations

26:1-2 DATE: 587-586 BC

26:7-14 In conquering the island city, Alexander the Great built a causeway from the mainland. This was the throwing of "stones, timber, and rubble into the sea." After the downfall of the city, the causeway caused a tidal shift and the area silted up, becoming too shallow for a business harbor. Consequently, Tyre was never rebuilt.

28:1-19 At the present time, Satan has been removed from God's government in heaven, but apparently is still allowed access and accuses the brethren (as in Job).

29.1 DATE: January 5, 587 BC

29.17 DATE: April 26, 571 BC

30:1-5 Mr. Dyer (BKC) carefully distinguishes the use here as fulfilled in a specific time in history. The phrase often, but not always, refers to the end times.

30.20 DATE: April 29, 587 BC

31.1 DATE: June 21, 587 BC

32.1 DATE: March 3, 585 BC

32.17 DATE: March 17, 585 BC

III. Blessings on Israel (33-48)

33.21 DATE: January 9, 585 BC

34:17-24 Mr. Dyer (BKC) mentions two of three possibilities, namely that the prince is either David (resurrected) or Jesus Christ. The other possibility is that David is a descendant of David, but not Jesus. This usage would take David as the line or house of David (as does the interpretation pointing to Jesus).

36:22-28 This restoration is promised on the basis of God's holy name, not on Israel's obedience. This restoration has not yet been accomplished, in that Israel historically and at present has not been given the heart of flesh and the Holy Spirit. Admittedly, some Israelites and the church have received both, but verse 28 is specific about the people living in the promised land in obedience.

37:11-14 The Israelites residing in Palestine today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy. It is a sad truth that even religious Jews, whether Reformed, Conservative, Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox, have all rejected and continue to reject their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Neither is there any evidence of the Holy Spirit in those communities.

39:9-11 The phrasing of the question, whether literal swords or figurative modern weapons are intended, prejudices the answer against modern weapons. The interpretation using cultural equivalents is possible and may be required for Ezekiel to communicate a vision of the future in terms of his day.

When we read that "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword," we do not expect a violent man today to escape this principle by saying, "No, I use a handgun."

40 On the view that that Ezekiel referred to a rebuilding of Solomon's temple following the Exile, some hold that the discrepancies are due to disobedience on the part of the returnees. They should have followed Ezekiel's plans. This is still a weak argument, especially as God's Glory did not return.

On the view that the church is the temple (figuratively), this is a very difficult reading of several chapters. The original hearer would certainly have thought of a real building, and strong evidence would be required to take the verses in a non-literal fashion. The strong tendency to do this is due to a reluctance to admit that a real millennium will take place in the future on this earth. We may perhaps be so familiar with the doctrine of a earthly millennium that we forget many fundamentalists (and non-fundamentalists) do not hold to this doctrine, but interpret all references to that period (wrongly) as either the present church age or the eternal state.

40.1 DATE: 573 BC

48:35 The name is transliterated (with Adonai substituted for YHWH) as Adonai Shamah, translated as "THE LORD IS THERE".

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Updated March 2012

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