Ezekiel on My Mind

ezekielEzekiel is the Leviticus of the Prophets.

If you read the Bible regularly, you know what I mean. It is one of those books you avoid or skim over quickly. I mean, sure there are choice bits like the New Spirit/New Heart passage in chapter 36 or the Valley of Dry Bones in 37 or the Third Temple in 40-48.

Notice that the bright passages in Ezekiel are mostly at the end, the restoration section of Ezekiel.

I have been told that Rob Bell, the mightily famous pastor in Michigan, started his church a few years back with a sermon series on Leviticus. A thousand people showed up the first Sunday. I’d be lucky if a thousand people read this blog post.

The thing is, Rob Bell took a topic thought of as to-be-avoided-like-salmonella and turned it into an edge-of-your-seat narrative adventure.

I’m wondering if the same thing could happen with Ezekiel. You may be hearing from me about this prophet of the exile from time to time in coming years. Though I change my mind often about things, it seems at this point that Ezekiel studies may be the direction I am going in.

Hey, we all have to specialize in something.

I am beginning my reading in Ezekiel with some Jewish insight before moving on to more academic offerings. I hope to get a lot of Ezekiel reading under my belt before November when I will be at the Ezekiel section of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans soaking up the scholars.

So my first reading is from The Artscroll Tanach Series: Yechezkel with commentary by Rabbi Moshe Eisemann. Here are a few thoughts right from the beginning.

Compare the words of Deuteronomy 4:6-7 with the words of Ezekiel 5:6:

Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him? –Deut. 4:6-7, JPS

But she rebelled against My rules and My laws, acting more wickedly than the nations and the countries round about her; she rejected My rules and disobeyed My laws. –Ezekiel 5:6, JPS

Rabbi Eisemann says:

Moses portrayed what could have been; Yechezkel portrayed what was. . . . Israel could have been the parchment upon which God’s word was written. . . . [but instead Israel] continued the process of redemption and exile until the final redemption with the coming of Messiah, may it be speedily in our days.

Eisemann notes that Ezekiel goes on to show in “ten agonizing steps” the withdrawal of God’s glory from the Temple and Jerusalem. And yet, as it says in the Talmud, Ezekiel begins in destruction, but ends in consolation (Bava Bathra 14b). So that by the end we read of God’s glory returning:

The Presence of the Lord entered the Temple by the gate that faced eastward. –Ezekiel 43:4

If Ezekiel hasn’t been on your reading list, and if you don’t currently have a Biblical reading plan which you are actually following, why not add it? You may find it depressing in parts, but the good news does come and it is as filled with glory as it is with sadness.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ezekiel on My Mind

  1. cakibbutznik says:

    Derek,

    Glad to be commenting on your blog for the first time!

    I’ve read varying accounts that traditionally men were not allowed to study Ezekiel’s chariot vision from the first three chapters until they were either 25 or 30 because it was so mystical. Interesting to think that it’s been held in such high regard.

    Jeff A.

    • Jeff:

      Yes, the age is 30, I believe. The reason is the tendency of some to get wild with speculation about mysticism because of the vision of the Divine Chariot at the beginning. Merkavah mysticism (chariot mysticism) was a predecessor to Kabbalah.

      Derek

  2. peterygwendyta says:

    I don’t know if after your study you are planning to write a book on Ezekiel. But if you are I for one would be interested in buying it. I hope your studies go well.

    Peter

    • Peter:

      Now if you can convince 2,999 of your friends to do the same!

      Yeah, you know me and a book is often part of the deal. On this one, though, I think four or five years will be needed.

      Derek

  3. wildcelt says:

    Shalom,

    Just a few points about Rob Bell/Mars Hill Bible Church. Mars Hill is in Michigan, not Minnesota. And technically he didn’t start the Leviticus series until week 9, but the series did last almost nine months. BTW, you can download and listen to the Leviticus series here (http://www.mhtorah.org/audio/), but don’t tell anyone, its a secret. :) Unfortunately I’ve not kept up with the site like I need to, but the audio links still work.

    I think one of the big helps in that series were Rob’s use of props. He even brought in a blowtorch once as a demonstration. Notice I said “once,” because after that sermon the fire marshal promptly told him never again.

    I started attending Mars Hill in 1999, and it is what got me interested in the Torah and Hebrew roots. We have many Torah Club groups (using FFOZ’s materials) there as well. Although unfortunately Torah talk from the “pulpit” has been silent for a while, there are those of us still very active in the church pursuing HaShem through His Torah.

    Edward

    • Edward:

      Thanks. I changed it to Michigan. Getting old at 41, don’t ya know.

      I was aware that my friends at FFOZ were in touch with a group at Mars Hill. Awesome to know it is still going. Blessings and peace.

      Derek

  4. Everyone:

    Well, I said I would be lucky if 1,000 people read this post. We actually passed that marker a long time ago. This has become the most popular post since Passover. Who would have predicted it?

    Good thing I will be posting on Ezekiel hundreds of times in years to come as this is becoming my chosen area of study.

    I had no idea Ezekiel could become a popular topic. I think maybe there is too little about Ezekiel on the internet. Maybe I have discovered a good niche for myself in coming years.

    Derek

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « Messianic Jewish Musings

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