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Ezekiel, Israel and the Middle East
God’s Promises For Israel’s Restoration
Isaiah 14:1 New Living Translation 1 But the LORD will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 New American Stand Bible 1977 31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Hebrews 8:8 New American Standard Bible 1977 “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
Notes: MacArthur Study Bible (Everybody should own a MacArthur Study Bible)
Isaiah 14:1 The strangers. These are Jewish proselytes who join themselves to the nation in the final earthly kingdom of Christ.
Jeremiah 31:31–33 a new covenant. In contrast to the Mosaic Covenant under which Israel failed, God promised a New Covenant with a spiritual, divine dynamic by which those who know Him would participate in the blessings of salvation. The fulfillment was to individuals, yet also to Israel as a nation (v. 36; Rom. 11:16–27). It is set 1) in the framework of a reestablishment in their land (e.g., chaps. 30–33 and in vv. 38–40) and 2) in the time after the ultimate difficulty (30:7). In principle, this covenant, also announced by Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20), begins to be exercised with spiritual aspects realized for Jewish and Gentile believers in the church era (1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 8:7–13; 9:15; 10:14–17; 12:24; 13:20). It has already begun to take effect with “the remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). It will be also realized by the people of Israel in the last days, including the regathering to their ancient land, Palestine (chaps. 30–33). The streams of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants find their confluence in the millennial kingdom ruled over by the Messiah.
Hebrews 8:8–12 Quoted from Jer. 31:31–33 (see notes there).
Text – Ezekiel 1 – NASB 1977
The Vision of Four Figures
1 Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2(On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile, 3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him.)
4 And as I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire.5 And within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. 6 Each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 And their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 9 their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 10 As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man, all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being,and two covering their bodies. 12 And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire. 14 And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning.
15 Now as I looked at the living beings, behold, there was one wheel on the earth beside the living beings, for each of the four of them. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was like sparkling beryl, and all four of them had the same form, their appearance and workmanship being as if one wheel were within another. 17 Whenever they moved, they moved in any of their four directions, without turning as they moved.18 As for their rims they were lofty and awesome, and the rims of all four of them were full of eyes round about.19 And whenever the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. And whenever the living beings rose from the earth, the wheels rose also. 20 Wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go in that direction. And the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. 21 Whenever those went, these went; and whenever those stood still, these stood still. And whenever those rose from the earth, the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.
Vision of Divine Glory
22 Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, extended over their heads. 23 And under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward the other; each one also had two wings covering their bodies on the one side and on the other. 24 I also heard the sound of their wings like the sound of abundant waters as they went, like the voice of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army camp; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings. 25 And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings.
26 Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. 27 Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. 28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.
Notes – Ezekiel 1 – MacArthur Study Bible (Everybody should own a MacArthur Study Bible)
1:1 thirtieth year. Most likely this was Ezekiel’s age, since the date relative to the king’s reign is given in 1:2. Thirty was the age when a priest (cf. v. 3 with Num. 4) began his priestly duties. River Chebar. A major canal off of the Euphrates River, S of Babylon. visions of God. This scene has similarities to the visions of God’s throne in Rev. 4, 5, where the emphasis is also on a glimpse of that throne just before judgment is released in Rev. 6–19.
1:2 fifth year. This is 593 B.C. The king, Ezekiel, and 10,000 others (2 Kin. 24:14) had been deported to Babylon in 597 B.C., Ezekiel at the age of 25.
1:3 word of the Lord…hand of the Lord. As God prepared Isaiah (Is. 6:5–13) and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4–19), so the Lord prepares Ezekiel to receive revelation and strengthens him for his high and arduous task to speak as His prophet. Ezekiel the priest. See note on v. 1.
1:4–14 The opening vision focuses on angels surrounding God’s presence.
1:4 whirlwind…fire. Judgment on Judah in a further and totally devastating phase (beyond the 597 B.C. deportation) is to come out of the N, and did come from Babylon in 588–586 (as Jer. 39, 40). Its terror is depicted by a fiery whirlwind emblematic of God’s judgments and the golden brightness signifying dazzling glory.
1:5 four living creatures. Four angels, most likely the cherubs in 10:1–22, appearing in the erect posture and figure of man (note face, legs, feet, hands in vv. 6–8) emerge to serve God who judges. The number 4 may have respect to the 4 corners of the earth, implying that God’s angels execute His commands everywhere.
1:6 four faces. See note on v. 10. four wings. Four wings instead of two symbolize speed in performing God’s will (cf. v. 14).
1:7 legs. They were not bent like an animal’s, but “straight” like pillars, showing strength. calves’ feet. This points to their stability and firm stance.
1:8 hands of a man. This is a symbol of their skillful service.
1:9 did not turn. They were able to move in any direction without needing to turn, giving swift access to do God’s will. Apparently all were in harmony as to the way they moved (v. 12).
1:10 faces. These symbols identify the angels as intelligent (“man”), powerful (“lion”), servile (“ox”), and swift (“eagle”).
1:12 the spirit. This refers to the divine impulse by which God moved them to do His will (cf. 1:20).
1:13 like…fire…torches. Their appearance conveyed God’s glory and pure, burning justice (cf. Is. 6) which they assisted in carrying out even on Israel, who had for so long hardened themselves against His patience.
1:14 Intense, relentless motion signifies God’s constant work of judgment.
1:15–25 This section looks at the glory of God’s throne in heaven.
1:15 a wheel. This depicts God’s judgment as a war machine (like a massive chariot) moving where He is to judge. The cherubim above the ark are called chariots in 1 Chr. 28:18.
1:16 wheel in the middle of a wheel. This depicted the gigantic (v. 15, “on the earth” and “so high,” v. 18) energy of the complicated revolutions of God’s massive judgment machinery bringing about His purposes with unerring certainty.
1:17 did not turn aside. Cf. vv. 9, 12. The judgment machine moved where the angels went (cf. vv. 19, 20).
1:18 eyes. These may picture God’s omniscience, i.e., perfect knowledge, given to these angelic servants so that they can act in judgment unerringly. God does nothing by blind impulse.
1:20 spirit. See note on 1:12.
1:24 noise of many waters. This imagery could have in mind a thunderous rush of heavy rain or the washing of surf on rocks (cf. 43:2; Rev. 1:15; 14:2; 19:6).
1:25 voice. No doubt this is the “voice of the Almighty” (v. 24), since God’s throne (v. 25) was “over their heads.”
1:26 a throne. Cf. Ps. 103:19; Rev. 4:2–8. a man. The Godhead appears in the likeness of humanity, though God is a spirit (John 4:24). The Messiah, God incarnate, is the representative of the “fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9), so this can be a prelude to the incarnation of Messiah in His character as Savior and Judge (cf. Rev. 19:11–16).
1:28 the glory of the Lord. That glory shines fully in the person of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6), which is a constant theme in Ezekiel. fell on my face. John, in Rev. 1:17, had the same reaction to seeing the glory of the Lord.
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