The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
- During the time between the surrender of Jerusalem by the worthless king Jehoiachin [Jeconiah], and its destruction under Zedekiah, many of the nobles of Judah were taken as captives to Babylon. The prophet Jeremiah remained in the city until its overthrow. He sent a message to the captives, recorded in the 29th chapter of his prophecy, warning them against the delusion of believing that they would soon return from their exile. Among those captives was a young man by the name of Ezekiel, a member of the priestly line who also became a prophet. His name means ''God shall strengthen'' or ''strength of God.'' Like Jeremiah, his prophecy was principally concerned with Judah and Jerusalem, though it did extend to ''the house of Israel.''
A new generation had been born during the exile, and Ezekiel brought to them a testimony of the judgment that would fall upon their beloved city. He also presented the reason for that judgment.
Like Isaiah before him, Ezekiel was granted a vision of God. Isaiah's experience focused upon the holiness of God; Ezekiel's centered not only upon holiness, but also upon God's glory.
Except for Revelation, no book in the divine library contains so many symbols. Ezekiel said that while he was a captive by the river Chebar, ''...the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God'' (1:1).
- OUTLINE OF THE BOOK--
- Ezekiel's Vision and Commission (ch. 1-3)
- This records the prophet's initial vision of the cherubim and the glory of God, and his commission as a watchman over Israel.
- Visions of Judgment (4-11)
- The prophet receives a series of strange signs and visions that reveal the wickedness of the people and the coming judgment. The glory of God is seen departing from the temple.
- Visions of Captivity (12-24)
- Ezekiel is transported in the Spirit to [Jerusalem], where he receives further signs and visions of reproof and impending doom. He gives news of the homeland to the exiles.
- Judgment on Gentile Nations (25-32)
- The sentence of judgment is pronounced upon seven Gentile powers.
- Desolation and Restoration Prophesied (33-37)
- Ezekiel hears of Jerusalem's fall. A long desolation upon Palestine is predicted, and the literal restoration of Israel is promised at the return of Christ, the true Shepherd.
- Invasion from the North (38,39)
- After the restoration, a northern confederation, headed by Russia, will camp in the mountains of Judea and be destroyed by the Lord.
- Glory Returns to Israel (40-48)
- With the enemies of Israel crushed and the nation spiritually reborn, the glory of God returns. The temple is rebuilt, and God's anointed Ruler is worshiped as King over all the earth. The holy city is named Jehovah-Shammah, ''The Lord is there'' (48:35).
- We will now consider several of the key passages of Ezekiel, centering our attention upon the reflections of Christ that occur throughout the book.
- EZEKIEL'S COMMISSION (chapter 1)
- In vision, the prophet saw the cherubim, who ''had the likeness of a man'' (v.5). Each had four faces: the face of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. Wherever cherubim are mentioned in the Bible, they are either guarding or declaring the holiness of God. And where but in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the holiness of God more fully displayed and declared?
- He is the lion, the King who has the right to reign [Gen 49:9,10].
- Like the beast of servitude, the ox, He is the Servant of Jehovah. He said that He did not come to be ministered to, but to serve, and to ''give His life a ransom for many'' (Mat 20:28).
- He is the Word made flesh, dwelling among us (John 1:14). He is therefore, the perfect man.
- Beyond that, He soars higher than any other, and like the eagle, He can look directly into the face of God with unblinking eye. This is because He is more than perfect man; He is God manifest in the flesh. ''In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'' (John 1:1).
- Ezekiel's vision of the Lord prepared him for his ministry. Throughout the book, this phrase appears repeatedly: ''The word of the Lord came unto me.'' This was his authority, and its recurrence may form the divisions of the book. Another phrase that occurs frequently is: ''They shall know that I am Jehovah.''
- GOD'S DECREE (21:27)
- The Lord pronounced these solemn words recorded in Ezekiel:
I will overturn, overturn, overturn it,
and it shall be no more, until He comes whose right it is;
and I will give it Him. (Eze 21:27)
- This prophecy was uttered 600 years before Christ came. It is preceded by these awesome words of God: ''Remove the diadem, and take off the crown'' (v.26). From the deliverance of this prophecy until now, the world has gone through a process of overturning, of the removing of diadems, and of kingdoms falling. Jerusalem, the crossroads of the world, has been at the center of anarchy, change, confusion, and misrule. What has been true of Jerusalem has also been true of the whole world. Not a government in all the world has the slightest assurance that it will remain for many more years. The ''overturning'' has entered every realm of life-- not only the political, but the ecclesiastical, the social, and the economic as well. Yes, world conditions today paint a dark picture indeed! Even so, a few Bible scholars are teaching that through the good offices of the church a spiritual millenium is coming. Never!
- THE REIGN OF THE RIGHTFUL KING--
- The 'overturning'' will continue until the coming of the One ''whose right it is'' to reign (21:27). And who is that? Jesus Christ, God's anointed Ruler. He is the anointed One, earth's Redeemer and Israel's Messiah. The promise of God the Father is, ''...and I will give it Him'' (v.27). This is what the world needs today. Until the Prince of Peace comes, the governments of this earth will be characterized by instability and unrest.
With this truth in his heart, and with the stability of the throne of God before his eyes, Ezekiel was ready for an unfolding of the future. He saw it as few have ever been permitted to see it.
Ezekiel 37 records a great vision. The Spirit of God put the prophet in a valley that was full of dry bones. There came a great shaking, and the bones began to come together. Flesh and skin then appeared upon them, but no life was in them. Ezekiel watched as, at the command of the Lord God, breath came into the assembled bodies from the four winds, and they came to life. They rose to their feet as a great army of men.
God Himself interpreted the vision for Ezekiel. He identified the bones as ''the whole house of Israel'' (37:11). He then told Ezekiel to say on His behalf,
Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves,
And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I, the Lord, have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.
- God gave further information to the listening prophet in verse 22. ''And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all.'' The kingdom will be united in the endtime. Chapter 37 closes with this promise of Jehovah: ''And the nations shall know that I, the Lord, do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore'' (v.28). Who is this One in the midst of restored and resurrected Israel? It is none other than Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Chapters 40 through 48 describe a scene never before witnessed upon this earth. What is it? The magnificent millenial temple.
The prophecy of Ezekiel closes with the presence of the Lord (the Lord Jesus Christ) reigning and ruling in Jerusalem. ''...and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there'' (48:35).
[cp. Rev 21:3; 22:3]
Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from thebookwurm.com].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.
For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.
Go to The Book opening page.