In our first Ezekiel reading we learned that the prophet is in exile, hundreds of miles east of Jerusalem, when the word of the LORD comes to him. In those first visions the LORD assures the captives that Jerusalem will be destroyed – affirming Jeremiah’s message to settle into seventy years of exile.
Today we aren’t sure where Ezekiel is, except that he is to “set [his] face toward the mountains of Jerusalem, and prophesy against them…” In chapters 6 and 7 the LORD reaffirms His commitment to bring an end to Judah’s kingdom – in fact the word “end” appears six times in chapter 7. There is a cadence to these chapters, built around another specific repeated phrase that I want you to listen for. Consider what the LORD means, and what He wants Israel to grasp.
In chapter 8 the hand of the LORD GOD fell on Ezekiel as he sat in his house, “with the elders of Judah sitting before me.” Remember that these are not meaningless details. At the very least they ground Ezekiel’s coming vision in a place and time. Even more, these details let us know who is hearing what the LORD is saying through the prophet – and therefore who is accountable for heeding it.
In this vision a form that has the appearance of a man leads Ezekiel on a tour of the Temple, peering into hidden places where people believe their idolatry is hidden from the LORD. In chapter 9, the LORD represents His vengeance for Judah’s abominations. And in chapter 10, Ezekiel again sees an image of the glory of the LORD.
Take a moment and remember when and where we are. This is during the reign of Zedekiah, whom Ezekiel never even acknowledges. His frames of reference all date from Jehoiachin’s exile. The LORD has been speaking forcefully from inside Jerusalem, through Jeremiah. His prophecies, though filled with metaphor, are nothing like the visions the LORD gives Ezekiel. Remember that the subject of this book is the LORD. Glean what you can about His nature and character, through all His modes of communication.
Our verse for this week is 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Ezekiel 6 through 10. Now let’s read it!
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.