Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Ezekiel—II
IT IS December 609 B.C.E. The Babylonian king has begun his final siege of Jerusalem. So far, Ezekiel’s message to the exiles in Babylon has centered on one theme: the fall and destruction of their beloved city, Jerusalem. Now, though, the subject of Ezekiel’s prophecies shifts to the doom of the pagan nations that would rejoice at the calamity upon God’s people. When Jerusalem falls 18 months later, Ezekiel’s message once again takes on a new theme: the glorious restoration of true worship.
Ezekiel 25:1–48:35 contains prophecies about the nations surrounding Israel and the deliverance of God’s people.a Except for Ezekiel 29:17-20, the account follows chronological as well as topical order. However, these four verses are in place topically. As part of the inspired Scriptures, the book of Ezekiel has a message that “is alive and exerts power.”—Hebrews 4:12.
‘THAT LAND IS TO BECOME LIKE THE GARDEN OF EDEN’
Foreseeing their response to the fall of Jerusalem, Jehovah has Ezekiel prophesy against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Sidon. Egypt is to be plundered. ‘Pharaoh the king of Egypt and his crowd’ are likened to a cedar that will be cut down by the “sword of the king of Babylon.”—Ezekiel 31:2, 3, 12; 32:11, 12.
About six months after the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., an escapee comes and reports to Ezekiel: “The city has been struck down!” The prophet is ‘no longer speechless’ to the exiles. (Ezekiel 33:21, 22) He has restoration prophecies to declare. Jehovah “will raise up over them one shepherd, [his] servant David.” (Ezekiel 34:23) Edom is to be desolated, but that land yonder, Judah, is to become “like the garden of Eden.” (Ezekiel 36:35) Jehovah promises to protect his restored people from the attack of “Gog.”—Ezekiel 38:2.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
29:8-12—When was Egypt desolated for 40 years? After the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., the remnant of Judah fled to Egypt despite the prophet Jeremiah’s warning. (Jeremiah 24:1, 8-10; 42:7-22) That did not prove to be an escape for them because Nebuchadnezzar came up against Egypt and conquered it. The 40-year desolation of Egypt may have followed that conquest. While secular history provides no evidence of this desolation, we can be confident that it took place because Jehovah is the Fulfiller of prophecy.—Isaiah 55:11.
29:18—How was ‘every head made bald and every shoulder rubbed bare’? The siege of the inland city of Tyre was so intense and strenuous that the heads of Nebuchadnezzar’s troops were made bald by the chafing of their helmets and their shoulders were rubbed bare from carrying building materials for towers and fortifications.—Ezekiel 26:7-12.
Lessons for Us:
29:19, 20. Since the Tyrians escaped to their island-city with much of their wealth, King Nebuchadnezzar received very little spoil from Tyre. Even though Nebuchadnezzar was a proud, self-centered pagan ruler, Jehovah compensated him for his service by giving him Egypt as “wages for his military force.” Should we not imitate the true God by paying taxes to the governments for the services they perform in our behalf? Neither the conduct of secular authorities nor the way the taxes are put to use cancels this obligation.—Romans 13:4-7.
33:7-9. The modern-day watchman class—the anointed remnant—and its companions should never hold back from preaching the good news of the Kingdom and warning people about the coming “great tribulation.”—Matthew 24:21.
33:10-20. Our salvation depends on our turning away from bad ways and complying with what God requires. Indeed, Jehovah’s way is “adjusted right.”
36:20, 21. Because of not living up to what they were known as, that is, “the people of Jehovah,” the Israelites profaned God’s name among the nations. We should never become worshippers of Jehovah in name only.
38:1-23. How reassuring it is to know that Jehovah will rescue his people from the attack of Gog of the land of Magog! Gog is the name given to “the ruler of this world,” Satan the Devil, after his ouster from heaven. The land of Magog refers to the vicinity of the earth, to which Satan and his demons are confined.—John 12:31; Revelation 12:7-12.
“SET YOUR HEART UPON ALL THAT I AM SHOWING YOU”
It is the 14th year after the city of Jerusalem was struck down. (Ezekiel 40:1) Fifty-six years of exile still lie ahead. (Jeremiah 29:10) Ezekiel is now close to 50 years of age. In a vision, he is brought to the land of Israel. He is told: “Son of man, see with your eyes, and with your ears hear, and set your heart upon all that I am showing you.” (Ezekiel 40:2-4) How thrilled Ezekiel must be to receive a vision of a new temple!
The glorious temple that Ezekiel sees has 6 gateways, 30 dining rooms, the Holy, the Most Holy, a wooden altar, and an altar for burnt offerings. “Going forth” from the temple is a stream of water that becomes a torrent. (Ezekiel 47:1) Ezekiel also receives a vision of tribal assignments of land—each allotment running east to west with an administrative strip between the allotments of Judah and Benjamin. “The sanctuary of Jehovah” and “the city” named Jehovah-Shammah are located in this strip.—Ezekiel 48:9, 10, 15, 35, footnote.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
40:3–47:12—What is represented by the visionary temple? This temple of gigantic proportions seen by Ezekiel in vision was actually never built. It pictured God’s spiritual temple—his templelike arrangement for pure worship in our day. (Ezekiel 40:2; Micah 4:1; Hebrews 8:2; 9:23, 24) The temple vision is fulfilled during “the last days,” when the priesthood is refined. (2 Timothy 3:1; Ezekiel 44:10-16; Malachi 3:1-3) However, it has a final fulfillment in Paradise. The visionary temple provided the Jewish exiles with a promise that pure worship would be restored and that each Jewish family would have an inheritance in the land.
40:3–43:17—What is significant about the measuring of the temple? The measuring of the temple is a sign that Jehovah’s purpose concerning pure worship is sure to be fulfilled.
43:2-4, 7, 9—What were “the carcasses of their kings” that had to be removed from the temple? The carcasses evidently referred to idols. Jerusalem’s rulers and her people had polluted God’s temple with idols—in effect, making them their kings.
43:13-20—What is symbolized by the altar that Ezekiel saw in vision? The symbolic altar is God’s will in connection with Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice. Because of this provision, the anointed are declared righteous and the “great crowd” is clean and pure in God’s eyes. (Revelation 7:9-14; Romans 5:1, 2) Perhaps that is why “the molten sea” of Solomon’s temple—a huge water basin used for the priests to wash in—is lacking in the visionary temple.—1 Kings 7:23-26.
44:10-16—Who is represented by the priestly class? The priestly class foreshadows the body of anointed Christians in our day. The refining of them took place in 1918 when Jehovah sat “as a refiner and cleanser” in his spiritual temple. (Malachi 3:1-5) Those who were clean or who repented could continue in their privilege of service. Thereafter, they had to work hard to keep themselves “without spot from the world,” thus becoming examples to the “great crowd,” represented by the nonpriestly tribes.—James 1:27; Revelation 7:9, 10.
45:1; 47:13–48:29—What do “the land” and its allotment represent? The land represents the realm of activity of God’s people. Regardless of where a worshipper of Jehovah happens to be, that one is in the restored land as long as he upholds true worship. The apportioning of the land will have its final fulfillment in the new world when each faithful person will inherit a place.—Isaiah 65:17, 21.
45:7, 16—What is portrayed by the people’s contribution for the priesthood and the chieftain? In the spiritual temple, this primarily refers to spiritual support—offering assistance and manifesting a cooperative spirit.
47:1-5—What is pictured by the water of Ezekiel’s visionary river? The water pictures Jehovah’s spiritual provisions for life, including the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus and the knowledge of God found in the Bible. (Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:7-26; Ephesians 5:25-27) The river progressively deepens to accommodate the influx of new ones who take up true worship. (Isaiah 60:22) The river will be flowing with the most potent water of life during the Millennium, and its waters will include further understanding obtained from the “scrolls” that will then be opened.—Revelation 20:12; 22:1, 2.
47:12—What do the fruitful trees represent? The symbolic trees picture God’s spiritual provisions for restoring mankind to perfection.
48:15-19, 30-35, footnote—What does the city in Ezekiel’s vision represent? “Jehovah-Shammah” is situated in “profane” land, indicating that it must represent something earthly. The city seems to represent the earthly administration that benefits those who will make up the righteous “new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13) Having gates on each side illustrates its openness. The overseers among God’s people are to be approachable.
Lessons for Us:
40:14, 16, 22, 26. The wall carvings of palm trees in the entryways of the temple show that only those who are morally upright are allowed to enter. (Psalm 92:12) This teaches us that our worship is acceptable to Jehovah only if we are upright.
44:23. How grateful we can be for the services provided by the modern-day priestly class! “The faithful and discreet slave” takes the lead in providing timely spiritual food that helps us to discern the difference between what is unclean and what is clean in Jehovah’s eyes.—Matthew 24:45.
47:9, 11. Knowledge—a vital feature of the symbolic water—has been accomplishing a wonderful healing in our time. Wherever it is taken in, it brings people to life spiritually. (John 17:3) On the other hand, those who do not accept the life-giving water will be ‘given to salt’—destroyed permanently. How vital it is that ‘we do our utmost to handle the word of the truth aright’!—2 Timothy 2:15.
“I Shall Certainly Sanctify My Great Name”
After the removal of the last king of David’s line, the true God allowed a long period of time to elapse before the coming of the One “who has the legal right” to the kingship. However, God did not forsake his covenant with David. (Ezekiel 21:27; 2 Samuel 7:11-16) Ezekiel’s prophecy speaks of “my servant David,” who would become a “shepherd” and a “king.” (Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:22, 24, 25) This one is none other than Jesus Christ in Kingdom power. (Revelation 11:15) Jehovah will “sanctify [his] great name” by means of the Messianic Kingdom.—Ezekiel 36:23.
Very soon now, all those who profane God’s holy name will be destroyed. But those who sanctify that name in their lives by worshipping Jehovah in an acceptable way will receive everlasting life. Let us therefore take full advantage of the waters of life that are flowing abundantly in our day and make true worship the very center of our lives.
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The glorious temple of Ezekiel’s vision
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What does the river of life in Ezekiel’s vision represent?
Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.