The Lord is There!
1:1-28, 36:24-26, 33-35 (Pastor Heo)
Ezekiel’s Inagural Vision
1:1 In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3 the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was on him. 4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. 10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. 15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. 19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 22 Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome. 23 Under the vault their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. 25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
36:33 “ ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”
The book Ezekiel is a “Book of Visions”.
- Do you have vision? You are visionary.
- Do you have a dream? You are a dreamer.
- Do you have a mission? You are a missionary?
Ezekiel lived in Babylon before and after the fall of Jerusalem. This book was addressed to the people of Judah AND the people (exiles) in Babylon.
- Warnings of God’s judgment and coming fall of Jerusalem
- Message of the Lord of his judgment on various Gentile nations
- Comfort for Jerusalem after the fall and a picture for restoration and a brighter future
Ezekiel is a man of deep faith and great imagination – so many of his messages came in the form of visions and contained symbolic actions. He was a priest / prophet. He ministered during the darkest days of Jerusalem’s history (70 years of Babylonian captivity).
- This is the first book that emphasizes the personal responsibility of each person for his own sins and the “heart” that is sinful (heart of stone/flesh).
Ezekiel = “God’s strength.” His name only appears two times in this book and nowhere else in the Bible.
The king of Babylonia destroyed Judah (southern kingdom) in 3 steps:
- 605BC, Nebuchadnezzar carried off the king and key people (Daniel and his three friends).
- 596BC? = carried off the king again and Ezekiel and more people.
- 586BC = destroyed the whole city, the palaces, the temple, etc.
Chp 1:1 (one characteristic of Ezekiel is that there are MANY numbers – he is very clear about the date)
- Ezekiel was 25y.o when taken to Babylonia,
- 30y.o when he received his prophetic vision.
- He was 17y.o when Daniel was taken. So both men were about the same age (both about 20 years younger than Jeremiah).
According to this chronology,
- Ezekiel was born in 622 BC, taken at age 25, started ministry at age 30.
- He prophesied from 592BC – 570BC and died in 560BC.
His life overlapped the last part of Jeremiah’s ministry, and the first part of Daniel’s ministry. Daniel was in Babylonia already and well known, his name is mentioned 3 times in this book.
This book (48 chapters) has 3 parts:
- chp 1-24 (Judgment on Judah)
- chp 25-32 (Judgment on Gentiles)
- chp 33-48 (Restoration, consolation, comfort of Jews)
In the Bible, the first 3 main prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) – these major prophets have the same basic sequence of this message/pattern. Ezekiel is much clearer than all the others.
- Judge Judah
- Judge Others
In this book, one of the key sentences is “They will know that I am the Lord God.” This same sentence is repeated at least 65 times. (WOW)
“I will know that He is my Lord.”
The OT in general, prophets in particular, presuppose and teach God’s sovereignty over all Creation, peoples, nations, history.
Nowhere are God’s initiative and control expressed more clearly than in the book of Ezekiel.
This sovereign God resolved that he would be known/revealed/acknowledged. (This strong sentence testifies to this divine desire.)
- 1-24 teaches that God will be revealed through his judgment on Judah
- 25-32 teaches God will be revealed through his judgment on Gentiles
- 33-48 teaches that God will be revealed through his restoration
God is not limited to the temple / church building. He can respond to his people’s sin by LEAVING the sanctuary. He can also choose to VISIT his exiled people in Babylonia.
- He is free to judge.
- He is also free to be gracious.
These things reflect his grace.
Jerusalem’s renewed life and God’s relationship with himself will reveal his mercy and grace to the world.
“God is revealing himself.”
The Bible is the book of God’s self revelation. (The last book is Revelation.)
- Ps 91: “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies declare the work of his hand.”
- Romans 1 “What can be known about God are clearly visible. His divine power, and heavenly nature can be clearly seen through his Creation, so that no one can excuse himself.”
God is revealing himself as well through secular history.
We are studying history – especially though the OT.
At that time, the three most powerful countries were Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia – connected with Israel.
In the Bible, there are prophecies about these three most powerful countries and EACH was literally already fulfilled in human history. Sometimes God used one of these countries as a whip to punish his chosen people. Then he punished them again.
Ezekiel 29:14-15 “14 I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations.”
This was prophesied about 2600 years ago. Egypt is still there, BUT it has never had any dominion over any other country even until today. (It was not prophesied to disappear.)
Isaiah 30:31-33 “31 The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. 32 Every stroke the LORD lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm. 33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.”
This long sentence means that Assyria will disappear. There is no more Assyria today.
Isaiah 13:19-22 “19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians,will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.”
Babylonia was attacked in secular history by the Persian king Cyrus in BC 539. Since then, Babylonia began to rapidly decline. Later, there was one more movement to raise Babylonia by Alexander III – but with his death in BC313 – and Babylonia disappeared since AD15 – no more Babylonia on maps or anywhere else.
Yet, there is still Israel. Israel will still remain until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
This is a small, weak country. Yet, it is the ONLY country in that area with a full history – past, present, and future. God chose this nation to be a blessing to others.
But as of now, this nation is rejected by God because of her failure to do her mission.
- Romans 11 “Do not be ignorant of this mystery. Israel has experienced a hardening, in part until the full number of the Gentiles come in, then all Israel will be saved.”
This does not mean that each single individual who has ever lived will be saved – but this means that the majority of Israel who live when He comes will see, repent, be converted, and saved.
- In the past, the emphasis throughout is on God’s sovereignty.
- In the present, the emphasis is on Israel’s responsibility.
- In the future, the emphasis is on God’s faithfulness.
“Son of Man” is a key phrase in Ezekiel.
This is a type of Jesus Christ, but his FAVORITE name was “Son of Man.” He called himself this: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give himself as a ransom for all.”
There is only one prophecy in the Bible that is left to be fulfilled: The Second Coming of Christ. Matt 25:21-33 “The Son of Man will come from heaven with all his angels and sit on his throne and all nations will be gathered before him to be judged and he will separate the people one from another – as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
Do you remember the last sentence of this book?
“The Lord is there.”
In the OT, there are many compound names with Jehovah. This is the LAST compound name with Jehovah. ALL of the previous names were fulfilled by the person and work of Jesus Christ:
- Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Will Provide –
- Isaac had to die as a burning offering, but God provided a substitute for Isaac – like this God provides a substitute for our sins (the Lamb of God – Romans 8:20-32? “He who did not spare his own Son, how will he not graciously fulfill all things?” Phil 4:19)
- Jehovah Rapha – The Lord is Healer –
- Jesus is our healer in our spirits, minds, souls, bodies. Human medical doctors are only an instrument of Jesus as healer. 1 Peter 2:22 “Jesus Christ bore our sins on the tree so that we may die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed.”
- Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is our Banner (victory) –
- Jesus is our banner/victory (Romans 8:37 “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…”)
- Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is our Peace –
- Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I leave with you. Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus has made the two one and has destroyed all barriers.
- Jehovah Raha – Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”
- Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.” 1 Peter 5:4 “When the chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade.”
- Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord is King of Kings, Lord of Lords –
- he is the King of all Hosts (this is very clear according to Revelation – all knees will bow and all mouths confess he is Lord)
- Jehovah Sidicanon – The Lord is our Righteousness –
- are you righteous? (by faith, through his grace – yet we remain imperfect – so this is the Imputation of Righteousness and Unrighteousness – We are totally UNrighteous, but that was imputed TO Christ on the cross and when we believe in him, his righteousness is imputed TO us even though we are not actually righteous.) 1 Cor 1:30 “Jesus Christ is our righteousness, holiness, sanctification, …”
- Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There (3 times repeated)
- How strengthening it is to know the transcendent God who created the vast universe is at the same time the imminent God who is ever present with his people. God promised “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Jesus’ last promise = “I am with you always even to the very End of the Age.” God is THERE with you, wherever you are, through the work of Jesus Christ, and Christ is with us everywhere through his spirit.
Remember always: Jesus is THERE wherever you may be. The Lord is THERE.
Conclusion: The Lord is THERE! (3x)
Where is there? Where you are.