Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Ezekiel
THE year is 613 B.C.E. The prophet Jeremiah is in Judah, fearlessly proclaiming the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the land of Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has already taken many Jews into captivity. Among them are young Daniel and his three companions, who are serving in the Chaldean court. Most of the Jewish exiles are by the river Chebar in “the land of the Chaldeans.” (Ezekiel 1:1-3) Jehovah does not leave those captives without a messenger. He appoints 30-year-old Ezekiel as prophet.
Completed in 591 B.C.E., the book of Ezekiel covers a period of 22 years. Ezekiel is meticulous in his writing. He dates his prophecies, specifying even the day and the month along with the year. The first part of Ezekiel’s message centers on the fall and destruction of Jerusalem. The second part contains pronouncements against surrounding nations, and the final part has to do with the restoration of Jehovah’s worship. This article discusses highlights from Ezekiel 1:1–24:27, covering visions, prophecies, and enactments concerning what was to befall Jerusalem.
“A WATCHMAN IS WHAT I HAVE MADE YOU”
After being given an awe-inspiring vision of Jehovah’s throne, Ezekiel receives his commission. “A watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel,” Jehovah tells him, “and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17) To prophesy the siege of Jerusalem and its effects, Ezekiel is commanded to act out two pantomimes. Referring to the land of Judah, Jehovah says through Ezekiel: “Here I am! I am bringing upon you a sword, and I shall certainly destroy your high places.” (Ezekiel 6:3) To the inhabitant of the land, he says: “The garland [of calamity] must come to you.”
In 612 B.C.E., a vision transports Ezekiel to Jerusalem. What detestable things he sees happening in God’s temple! When Jehovah sends his heavenly executional forces (represented by “six men”) to express his anger at the apostates, only those who have received ‘a mark on the forehead’ will be spared. (Ezekiel 9:2-6) First, though, “coals of fire”
God’s spirit brings Ezekiel back to Chaldea. An enactment portrays the flight from Jerusalem of King Zedekiah and the people. False prophets and prophetesses are denounced. Idolaters are rejected. Judah is likened to a worthless vine. An eagle-vine riddle shows the bitter consequences of Jerusalem’s turning to Egypt for help. The riddle concludes with the promise that ‘Jehovah will transplant a tender twig upon a high mountain.’ (Ezekiel 17:22) In Judah, however, there will be “no scepter for ruling.”
Scriptural Questions Answered:
Lessons for Us:
2:6-8; 3:8, 9, 18-21. We should neither be intimidated by the wicked nor hold back from proclaiming God’s message, which includes a warning to them. When facing indifference or opposition, we need to be as hard as a diamond. However, we should be careful not to become tough, insensitive, or ruthless. Jesus felt compassion for the people he preached to, and we should likewise be moved by compassion to preach to others.
3:15. After receiving his commission, Ezekiel dwelled at Tel-abib, ‘stunned for seven days,’ digesting the message he was to declare. Should we not take time to study diligently and meditate in order to understand deep spiritual truths?
4:1–5:4. It took humility and courage on the part of Ezekiel to act out the two prophetic pantomimes. We too ought to be humble and courageous in carrying out any God-given assignment.
7:19. When Jehovah executes his judgment upon this system of things, money will have no value whatsoever.
8:5-18. Apostasy is spiritually deadly. “By his mouth the one who is an apostate brings his fellowman to ruin.” (Proverbs 11:9) We are wise to turn away from even the thought of giving a listening ear to apostates.
9:3-6. Acquiring the mark
12:26-28. Even to those scoffing at his message, Ezekiel was to say: “There will be no postponement anymore as to any words of [Jehovah].” We must do all we can to help others put their confidence in Jehovah before he brings an end to this system of things.
18:1-29. We are responsible for the consequences of our own actions.
“A RUIN, A RUIN, A RUIN I SHALL MAKE IT”
In the seventh year of exile, 611 B.C.E., the elderly ones of Israel come to Ezekiel “to inquire of Jehovah.” They hear a long history of Israel’s rebellion and a warning that ‘Jehovah will bring forth his sword’ against them. (Ezekiel 20:1; 21:3) Addressing the chieftain of Israel (Zedekiah), Jehovah says: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right [Jesus Christ], and I must give it to him.”
Jerusalem is arraigned. The guilt of Oholah (Israel) and of Oholibah (Judah) is exposed. Oholah has already been given “into the hand of those passionately loving her, into the hand of the sons of Assyria.” (Ezekiel 23:9) The desolation of Oholibah is in the offing. In 609 B.C.E., the 18-month siege of Jerusalem begins. When the city finally falls, the Jews will be too stunned to express their grief. Ezekiel must not speak God’s message to the exiles until he receives a report of the destruction of the city from “the escaped one.”
Scriptural Questions Answered:
Lessons for Us:
21:18-22. Even though Nebuchadnezzar used divination, it was Jehovah who made certain that the pagan ruler would come against Jerusalem. This shows that even demons cannot turn aside Jehovah’s executional agents from accomplishing his purpose.
22:6-16. Jehovah detests slander, loose conduct, the abuse of power, and the taking of bribes. We should be firm in our determination to avoid such wrongdoings.
A Message That Is Alive and Exerts Power
What beautiful lessons we learn from the first 24 chapters of the Bible book of Ezekiel! The principles set out there show what leads to God’s disfavor, how we may receive his mercy, and why we should warn the wicked. The prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem clearly portrays Jehovah as a God who ‘causes his people to know new things before they begin to spring up.’
Such prophecies as those recorded at Ezekiel 17:22-24 and 21:26, 27 pointed to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom in heaven. Very soon, that rulership will result in God’s will being done on earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) With strong faith and conviction, we can look forward to Kingdom blessings. Yes, “the word of God is alive and exerts power.”
[Picture on page 12]
What is pictured by the celestial chariot?
[Picture on page 14]
Having a zealous share in the preaching work helps us to retain our “mark”