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Douglas Wilson – Surveying the Text: Ezekiel

Posted On December 22, 2015

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Introduction:

In taking a book of the Bible a week, we are not really doing justice to any of them. We can certainly give an orientation. We can describe the basic themes. We can perhaps give you a taste for the book, such that you want to pursue a deeper reading on your own. But that said, of all the books that we are not doing justice to, we are really not doing justice to the book of Ezekiel. The best way to sum it up is by comparison to another book in the Bible that many struggle to understand as well. One scholar has said, rightly, that the book of Revelation is simply a Christian rewrite of the book of Ezekiel.

The Text:

“For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Eze. 36:24–28).

Summary of the Text:

The book of Ezekiel is a covenant lawsuit brought by Jehovah against the house of Israel. And at the heart of Israel’s running violations of the covenant, culminating in her judgment at the hands of the Babylonians, was the fact that Israel needed to be born again. In our text, God promises to deal with this problem once and for all. He will bring them out of exile. He will sprinkle clean water upon them. He will cleanse them from all their filthiness—note that their problem is definitely moral. God will then take away their stony heart and give them a new heart, a regenerate heart. Note that this is a promise given to Israel, God’s people. Obviously, individuals would have to be involved, but the promise is to the nation.

Overview of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel was taken off to Babylon as a young man in the first captivity, which occurred in 597 B.C. The city of Jerusalem did not fall completely until a few years later, in 586 B.C. Thus the first part of Ezekiel’s ministry had reference to the pending fall of Jerusalem, even though he was not ministering from within that doomed city, the way Jeremiah was. You can divide the book into three main sections. The first concerns the fall of Jerusalem (1-24). In the second section, Ezekiel turns to prophesy against the surrounding Gentile nations (25-39). Note that this means that God’s moral standards are authoritative over Gentile nations. They are not operating in a neutral zone. In the last section, Ezekiel describes a glorious Temple and shows how a restored Israel was going to bless the entire world (40-48). In the original Hebrew, the book had seven distinct sections, and each one of them had seven subsections, giving us a total of 49 sections.

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