Ezekiel study continued
Today’s entry is a continuation of the Ezekiel study. It will deal in upcoming entries with detailed generalizations from each of the symbols in it. May it bless you.
Some observations about Ezekiel himself
It is assumed that he was not of the poorer classes since those were the ones left in the Holy Land, and we find him at the opening of the book among the exiles by the Kebar River.
Special attention is given to how God addresses him, as “son of man.” In one sense this ties him to the rest of humanity, and as the book will show, to the forces that God will exert upon a group of people. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, he is identified with the coming Savior who would be also called Son of man.
Ezekiel was also the son of his father, Buzi. Buzi means “my shame.” Thus Ezekiel was son of a type of shame of his fathers–those who had through their unfaithfulness brought about the wrath of God upon them which was exemplified by the Exile. Buzi was also a priest, and perhaps God was showing how the priesthood, which was supposed to represent man”‘s case before God, had become shameful and ineffective.
Ezekiel kept himself for the Lord from his youth (4:14). Like David, God caused him to trust in Him from his mother’s breast. Though he married, he had no children; and even his beloved wife was taken from him. This was a man marked by God for a purpose, and his emergence into a symbol that could be apprehended by the human mind was part of this purpose for his existence. As God showed Jeremiah, He takes human personality and will and molds it like malleable clay, remaking it until it takes the form He wants. Ezekiel was able to submit to the reworking and molding process and thus became the symbol God intended. He is contrasted to the other Israelites who too became symbols, even to unbelievers, of the power of God exerted upon the disobedient.
No other Old Testament prophet had the heavens opened to him. What a burden prophecy and intimacy with God carries. Perhaps it was by inspiration that his parents named him, “God strengthens.” Another meaning of the name is “God will toughen.” Since the “hand of the Lord was on him,” perhaps the image is of the two hands of God–one above him with the burden of prophecy; and one below, the everlasting arms to sustain him.
Like the apostle Peter in Acts chapter 10 who had a message unmistakably impressed on his mind through repeated images and direct command, and like Cornelius who “distinctly saw an angel from God,” Ezekiel received a distinct message. Though the NIV does not reflect this, both the KJV and NAS say that the word came “expressly” to him.
Along with this explicit speaking of God to him comes a concurrent sense of commission: Ezekiel never doubted Who sent him nor why. He is warned that fear (and by implication, other features of naturality) can not be part of his mindset. As a symbol, he gave up naturality. He was not allowed to insert it into messages, and he could not act on it personally. He was also warned that, no matter how stringent the course he”‘d run, he did not have the option of even occasional rebellion, for that would make him like the people he was warning, and thus useless.
Part of his “equipping” for such a role were inward sustenance (he was told to eat the Word) and outward durability (his forehead would be like flint) but this would only be in contrast to the hard hearts of the people he would preach to.
When he felt human emotions, such as the “heat of his spirit” and his bitterness after receiving the first vision, God”‘s hand was on him steadily””both as guide and as restraint.
(continued in next post entry)