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Precious Promises

1st August 2016, hej

 

16) Promise to Ezekiel (prophet in exile 590-560BC)

When we read Ezekiel's book it is easy to miss a very vital section. It is so astounding an investigation of the Hebrew text was carried out to make sure that the translation was accurate.

The book is a personal communication to Ezekiel

The word of Yahweh came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; (Eze 1:3WEB)

And he, like Jeremiah, is sent to speak to people who will not hear.

Son of man, I send you to the children of Israel, to nations that are rebellious, which have rebelled against me: ..;and you shall tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh. They, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house), yet shall know that there has been a prophet among them. (Ezekiel 2:3-5 WEB)

It is expressly said that some will not hear, but still they will know he was a prophet. He is then shown a House in a vision.

Son of man,.. set your heart on all that I shall show you; for, to the intent that I may show them to you, are you brought here: declare all that you see to the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 40:4 WEB)

Here we note that Ezekiel is special. He is addressed directly as “you” and the vision is for him. This is easy to understand. He is in addition, as an afterthought, to declare things he sees to Israel.

Then in chapter 43 Ezekiel is addressed again. Ezekiel is told to show those in captivity the Temple and its measurement, or its size, to make them ashamed of their sins. He then is to show them the shape of the Temple, specifically its physical form and circulation pattern and the customs and laws. They were to appreciate these laws, to again be obedient to the Mosaic laws. Ezekiel is to teach and write them in the sight of those of the captivity.

But note the end. Ezekiel, not Israel, is to guard and keep the forms. This passage is an instruction to Ezekiel, only. Israel is “them” and “theirs”, and Ezekiel is to teach them. Ezekiel is told of the dimensions and shape of the altar and then he is addressed directly again, (my translation word for word, please note that this is not easy to read)

And said to-me “son-adam like this” say Adonai Yahweh “do these ordinances the altar in-the-day they-make the-offering on-it, the burnt-offering and to-sprinkle on-it blood”
And give unto-the-priests the-Levites which are of-seed Zadok that-approach unto-me” saith Adonai Yahweh “to minister-to-me bullock, son-of a bull, of the sin-offering”. (Ezekiel 43:18-19)

It says Ezekiel, on the day they make the offering on the altar (the one described to him in the temple), you are to give the sin offering to the sons of Zadok.

Could this command have related to the day he wrote this? After all, Ezekiel is a Priest. No, for there was no altar and no place to make a sacrifice. Ezekiel was in Babylon. It was the twenty fifth year of the exile and the fourteenth after the temple had been destroyed. The Babylonians had all the equipment from the Temple (Belshazzar brings it out later from storage). Also there seems to have been some sons of Zadok around, for Ezra, who later goes back to Israel, is a descendant of one of them, but the passage does not identify any individuals, indicating that the individuals names are not known. This is consistent with Ezekiel's actions being yet to occur in the future and the sons of Zadok being a group made up of all the family through the ages.

Ezekiel is instructed that he is to take the blood and put in on the horns on the altar. This clarifies that Ezekiel's actions are to take place in the future on the altar he saw in the vision of the Temple. There was no altar, at all, anywhere, when he recorded this. Also Ezekiel is not the High Priest, so he wouldn't sprinkle the blood as described. Not only that, he is to burn the sacrifice in the appointed place of the Temple in the outdoors of the Holy. In the Temple built by Solomon there was no outdoor space of the Holy. In Ezekiel's vision there is an outdoor place in the Holy.

On the second day he is to take a goat to purge the altar.

It is clear Ezekiel is making the sin-offerings. In fact he is instructed to do all these things. Why would Ezekiel write it, if he could not do it? He must believe that he could. When would he be doing it? When the altar he had seen would be built. Yahweh had shown him all through his life what he must suffer for revealing the true, but often unpopular, future to Israel. Now Yahweh was declaring emphatically to Ezekiel that Ezekiel would do all these things, on a specific day, one day in the future.

That means Ezekiel, who has long been dead, must stand alive in the future on the earth and be able to lay his hand on the son of a bull and to place blood on the horns of the altar. He must be resurrected to do this. This is a personal promise by Yahweh to Ezekiel. Actually it's a command to Ezekiel, but in essence it is a promise.

The simplest way to read this as is if it is an ordinary communication by one person to another. Yahweh said Ezekiel will do a number of things on two specific days, the days when they consecrate the new altar in the House Ezekiel was shown in the vision. As assuredly as other things Ezekiel wrote of have come to pass, he will do in the future what Yahweh has commanded.

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