"Illustrations of Events to Come"
Ezekiel was born in Jerusalem to a priestly family. His father's name was Buzi. Ezekiel, was taken captive in the second deportation from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. along with 10,000 statesmen, craftsmen and young men of the Aristocracy (Ezekiel was a member of the Zadok family) Ezekiel was twenty five when taken into Babylon where he lived in his own house with his wife, near the river Chebar He began his ministry at age thirty, just as Jesus and John the Baptist began their ministry. "Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God" (Ezek. 1:1).
Ezekiel describes the Heavenly Chariot and the visions which he saw when the heavens opened to him. It was then that God made him a prophet and ordered him to carry the message of God to the people. Whether the people listened to him or not, even if they placed obstacles in his way, the prophet was to carry out his mission without fear.
When the spirit of the prophecy came upon Ezekiel, he was standing by the river Chebar, a tributary of the Euphrates in Babylon. It was in the fifth year of the Babylonian Exile.
In Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar had set up Zedekiah on the throne, and made him swear allegiance to Babylon.The exiles in Babylon now settled down to a new life in captivity. Ezekiel kept the spirit of Judaism alive among them. But the practices of idolatry that had proved Judah's undoing were deeply rooted among the exiles. Ezekiel had a difficult task in convincing his fellow exiles that the captivity was but temporary punishment for their disloyalty to God.
Ezekiel's strongest prophecy was the Valley of the Dry Bones. The prophet found himself in a valley where dry bones were strewn all about. He was to prophecy that the dry bones would be resurrected. Soon an amazing sight evolved before his eyes. A storm broke out and caused the bones to join limb to limb until they became skeletons.ÝPresently the skeletons were clothed with flesh and skin. The dead bodies were revived by the spirit of God, and a mighty host row on its feet before the prophet's eyes.ÝIn this way the prophet told his fellow exiles that the Jewish people were to be revived to new life and glory. Ezekiel prophesied that the breach between the Kingdom of Judah and that of Efraim (the Ten Tribes) would be healed. There would be one united nation, restored to its land. The Temple would be rebuilt, and Israel would enjoy unity with God as never before. The prophet also described in detail the new Jerusalem, the new Temple and the new priesthood which would eventually flourish under the reign of Jesus the Messiah.
Ezekiel was a great teacher. He taught that the revival of the whole nation could come only through the revival of each individual. Every Jew individually was responsible for his life and conduct and had at the same time a responsibility towards the entire nation. God is always ready to forgive the sinner who returns to Him in sincere repentance. "I delight not in the death of the wicked, says the Lord, but that he return from his evil way and live," Ezekiel taught this again and again.
Under Ezekiel's influence, the exiles built synagogues and houses of Torah study in Babylon, and the spirit of Judaism was kept alive. When Ezekiel died, he was sadly mourned but his prophecies remain to inspire us forever.Ezekiel's Tomb in Iraq
After Nebuchadnezzar's death, his son Evill Merodach ascended the throne of the mighty Babylonian empire. He released King Jehoiachin from prison and treated him kindly. Jehoiachin remembered the prophet Ezekiel who was buried between the rivers Chebar and Euphrates. Accompanied by thousands of Jews, Jehoiachin went to his grave. There he built a tomb, and nearby a synagogue.Ý From far and near Jews made an annual pilgrimage to Ezekiel's tomb and prayed at the Synagogue of Ezekiel and Jehoiachin. Every year on the Day of Atonement a special scroll of the Torah, written by the prophet's own hand, was taken from the Ark in that Synagogue and read, and a perpetual light was kept burning there for many years. The Ezekiel Tablets, found in the tomb of Ezekiel in Kafr Al-Kafil south of Birs Nimrud. (in Iraq ) are now housed in the Institute of Ben Zvi, Yitzhak in Jerusalem Israel.
Ezekiel frequently used illustrated sermons to convey the message of God.
EZEKIEL'S ILLUSTRATED SERMONS
"THE BRICK TILE AND THE IRON PAN" illustrated the coming siege of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 4:1-3
"LYING THREE HUNDRED NINETY DAYS ON HIS LEFT SIDE" illustrated the three hundred ninety years of punishment from the dividing of Israel to the fall of Jerusalem.
"LYING FORTY DAYS ON HIS RIGHT SIDE" illustrated forty years of iniquity of Judah.
"THE BARE ARM BOUND" illustrated that Jerusalem will be helpless to avert her doom.
"EATING UNCLEAN BREAD" illustrated that Israel will eat defiled bread in captivity.
"EATING FOOD AND DRINKING WATER IN SMALL MEASURE" illustrated famine coming on Jerusalem.
"DIVIDING HIS SHAVEN HAIR INTO THREE PARTS" illustrated the destruction of Judah.
"STRIKING HIS HANDS TOGETHER AND STOMPING HIS FEET" illustrated the certain impending judgement of Jerusalem.
"THE CHAIN" illustrated the impending capivity of the people of Jerusalem.
"DIGGING OUT THROUGH THE WALL WITH HIS POSSESSIONS ON HIS SHOULDERS" illustrated the impending third and final carring away into Babylon.
"EATING BREAD AND WATER WITH TREMBLING HANDS" illustrated that Jerusalem was to be desolate.
"NO MOURNING FOR THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE" illustrated that in the coming destruction of Jerusalem the people would be too stunned to mourn.... His wife died on the day the final siege of Jerusalem began.
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