Week 2 - The Prophet Ezekiel
Following the surrender of Jerusalem to the Babylonian army by King Jehoiachin in 597 BC, several thousand of Judah’s statesmen, soldiers and craftsmen were taken into exile. Among the captives were Ezekiel who was in his mid-twenties at the time.
Ezekiel, son of Buzzi, of the tribe of Levi was in training to be a priest, looking forward to serving God like his father before him but instead found himself in exile in Babylon. He thought that was the end of his aspirations to become a priest.
The calling/God’s manifestation to Ezekiel
However, at the age of 30, God called him into service as a prophet in exile. The call was accompanied by a vision which underpinned his entire ministry.
As I looked a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually - In the middle of it was something like four living creatures - Each had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, and their feet were like a calf’s foot and they sparkled like burnished bronze and they all were covered with wings - under their wings on their four sides they had human hands and one had the face of an ox the other that of an eagle, another that of a human and the other that of a lion and their wings touched each other – amongst the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, moving about; the fire was bright and lightning issued from the fire. Over the heads of the living creatures was something like a dome, shining like crystal and when they moved I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty like the sound of an army - there came a voice from above the dome over their heads - and above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, like sapphire and seated above was something that seemed like a human form. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the lord.
After that who needs Arthur C Clarke!
This passage is adapted from the opening verses of the prophet Ezekiel who was recording the visions of God that he had been granted.
Of all the prophets, his writings are perhaps the most flavourful as he desperately tries to describe what he sees as his encounter with the Divine.
Ezekiel is viewed as a 6thcentury BCE prophet and also known as the ‘watchman of Israel’, reveals prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, the restoration to the land of Israel, and what some call the Third Templevisions.
As a prophet he, naturally enough, has much to say about the apostacy of God’s chosen people, which was received, not very well, but many of his ‘predictions’ were borne out even in his lifetime.
The main thrust of thetheology of Ezekiel, in marked contrast to the Deuteronomistic writers, is its contribution to the emerging notion of ‘individual responsibility to God’ – each man would be held responsible only for his own sins. However, Ezekiel did support the Deuteronomic idea of God working through retributive justice and that of the Holiness Code with its dependence on the keeping of the Torah, or the Laws of God.
Aside of the Vision, other familiar passages in Ezekiel include:
the watchman (chapter 3);
the valley of dry bones (chapter 37); and
the vision of the Temple (chapter 40).
The often-wild description of Ezekiel’s writing shows Ezekiel in a struggle to understand the vision of God, trying to make sense of what, in real terms, is not of this world. In this he might be like so many of us as we struggle to meet and understand the God who calls us into His service. Here is a man very much like us today, faced with complex situations and trying to make sense of them. At times he may be marked out as an incoherent dreamer, at other times, quite mad, and yet others as someone who has a remarkable insight into the human condition.
After reading the Book of the prophet Ezekiel you make come to other conclusions, but one this is for sure, you’re in for a cracking good read.
The tomb of Ezekiel is said to be located in modern day Iraq near Kefil.