1. During the month of November, many of us are reading through the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was prophet during the Babylonian exile. He was taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar along with King Jehoiachin and 10,000 others, including political and military leaders and skilled craftsmen - he was married, lived in his own house in Babylon and had a relatively free life.Ezekiel’s call came in 593 B.C., 4 years after his exile and 7 years before Jerusalem fell. His messages were sent to those who still lived in Jerusalem before it fell. He continued to preach until at least 571 B.C.
2. From 593-587, he warned the people of the coming judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. From 587-571, his messages gave encouragement and hope for the future. Ezekiel was an unusual prophet. Some say he was neurotic, paranoid, psychotic, or schizophrenic because of his unusual behavior. Lying on one side for 390 days and on the other for 40 days, shaving off his hair, and his many visions - some which were very elaborate. But we know that anyone who conscientiously obeys God will be considered "strange" by some people. His prophesies were acted or lived out. I find it even interesting how his own wifeís death symbolized and was timed with the destruction of the temple.
3. Nothing God asked Ezekiel to do seemed too difficult for him. Only once was he reluctant to obey a command that would have made him ceremonially unclean. The entire book is written in the first person with the exception of 1:2-3.
4. It contains such a rich blend of symbolic actions, visions, figurative speech, and allegories to communicate God’s messages. There are at least 11 symbolic acts performed by Ezekiel. Visions form the content of 17 of the 48 chapters. Imaginative use of figurative language are often used. The watchman, a refining furnace, Tyre as a merchant ship, Pharaoh as a crocodile.
5. One symbol that I noticed was that of the wall. 65 times the word "wall" appears in the book. Of course the wall refers to the wall around the city of Jerusalem but the meaning is much deeper. In Isaiah 26:1, the wall is a symbol of salvation.
Isa 26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.
In Zechariah 2, a wall is seen as of the protection of God. In a vision of the New Jerusalem we read:
Zech2: 4b-5 "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ’and I will be its glory within.
6. As we have seen before, especially in our study of Revelation, the city of Jerusalem is symbolic of the people of God. The New Jerusalem will be the heavenly city. The place were God will dwell forever with His people. A place where God lived. And so as we said, it represented His protection and His favour. And the walls of Jerusalem protected the people from their enemies. The walls of Jerusalem was what kept them safe and allowed them to at least think they were under Godís favour and nothing could harm them.
7. The wall of protection, the wall that would keep them safe, was really to be God Himself. But as the people, as we will see, created their own wall of protection. And by not relying on God they were in effect, causing God to put a wall between Him and them. We read this is Ezekiel 4:
Ezek 4:3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.
The pan symbolized a firm impregnable partition, which the prophet, as Godís messenger and representative, is to raise between himself and the city, including those who are in it. They were separating themselves from God by not trusting in Him. And in fact the siege against them, was the work of God.
8. In Ezekiel 8 God brings Ezekiel to the wall
Ezek 8:7-12 Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, "Son of man, now dig into the wall." So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, "Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here." So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ’The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.’"