A protestant type prophet called Zephaniah

Zephaniah lives in a time of decay and rapidly changing world, to which, the savage horde of Scythians poured onto the plains of South Russia and instilled fear into the hearts of the Palestinian people. They were cruel, bloodthirsty, fearless, and ruthless people who drove on toward Egypt. Such merciless behavior only created more panic in the hearts of men, and the great Assyrian power that had absolute rule was not losing its grip. Nineveh was yet destroyed, and Babylon was really the mistress of the nations. The union of the Medes, Scythians, and the Babylonians caused a mighty upheaval in the land.

Then, we see Josiah come to the throne in Jerusalem following the deaths of Manasseh and Amon. They had converted the nation to heathenism, and now the task of Josiah was to clean the Temple and turn the people back to God. A book was found, which was part of the Pentateuch, and it gave directions that made a big impression on the King and people. Zephaniah and Jeremiah had played a big part in the reformation; encouraging Josiah in his ambition and that helped stir the people up to carry out the King’s orders.

He presents the “terror and tenderness” of divine love, as we see in 1:2, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.” Also, 3:17, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah pictures Christ as, “The Lord in the Midst,” as we see in 1:8 for example, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” He also pictures Christ as, “The King of Israel,” as we see in Zephaniah 3:15, “The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.”

Zephaniah, unlike other prophets, was not a spokesperson for the poor, but rather, he was an aristocrat who didn’t have a voice for the everyday peasant. His name means, “The hidden Jehovah.” He was a silver-tongued orator and graphically foretold the doom of Nineveh. This came shortly after the beginning of his ministry. With a scathing eloquence, he denounced much idolatry, which was swept away at the reform of Josiah. Many Biblical scholars believe that it was Zephaniah who was the principal agent of God behind the scenes of the reform, bringing back Godly concepts to the nation. He had a grim, albeit sober nature that gained him the term, “puritan” or “protestant.” He was obsessed with the conception of the doom that was coming upon the wickedness. He blistered with his words princes, prophets, and other people for their unrestrained wickedness and lack of true, sincere worship of God. He was not a poet, but was sensitive to the faintest whisper of God – therewith imagination and emotion played a great part in his preaching.

He said that He would utterly consume all things from off the land, which includes man and beast, fowls of the heaven, fish, and the obstacles with the wicked. He also said He would cut off man from the land and stretch his hand toward Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He said He will additionally cut off the remnant of Baal from this place and the name of the Chemarims with the priests, those that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops, those that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham. Those that are turned back from the Lord and those who have not sought the Lord or enquired for Him shall also be cut off.

God’s people may have been previously sorrowful for the punishments upon them, now they will have joy, as they dwell together with God, their King – especially without fear or judgment. However, they are not to be lazy or discourage, but rather, alert and full of confidence. Defeat shall be replaced by victory, and God will take away their shame – to which, in His Love, He shall give them new life. Exiles will be gathered from the lands of their oppression and be established again in their own land. Therefore, under God’s rule, they will share with him in receiving praise from the whole earth!

Oh where is your faith – Habakkuk examined

Habakkuk had witnessed the reformation under the leadership of Josiah, who was the last good King of Judah. Egypt and Babylon, though, were fighting for supremacy. As Habakkuk witnessed the mighty upheavals and tragic consequences of such struggles, he was greatly confused.

The time of this book’s writing was around the time, most likely, of the fall of Nineveh and before the actual victory of Babylon. Tyranny and strife continued to abound with lawlessness. There was strife and contention, and even oppression for righteous people. Some people lived with open sin, some worshipped idols, while others oppressed the poor and defenseless. It was a day of sin, strife, and imminent invasion, as greater disasters were coming for God’s People in Jerusalem.

Habakkuk along with Paul delighted in proclaiming “the just shall live by faith.” Paul is the one that quotes Habakkuk at least twice or thrice – to which, we see this compared: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:37. Paul quoted from the Prophet to the unbelieving Jews at Antioch, as we see in Acts 13:41.

This book is arranged in the form of a dramatic dialogue between the Prophet and Yahweh. Following this is a series of “woes” against the cruel Chaldeans and a beautiful poem expressing confidence (or faith) in the God of his Salvation. Two-thirds (most) of this unique book is a conversation between God and the Prophet. As he resolves his confusion, God’s peace fills him up and he pours out his whole being in a stirring hymn of praise, prayer, and confidence. He has a passionate protest as he speaks with God – probably one that comes from a heart of desire for what’s best for His People.

The first answer from God to Habakkuk is found in 1:5-11. God replies here that he is preparing the Babylonians to punish Judah. The Judeans don’t know, because they would probably not believe Him anyway. They would fail to believe a wicked nation would be used to punish them. Following that, we see a description of the Babylonians that shows their ruthlessness – who do as they wish with no regard to law, justice, or anything else.

An important decision is noted in 2:1. Habakkuk watches and waits for an answer from God. This is an exercise in patience, I believe, as he has to be patient with God.

God’s replies again in 2:2-4. The answer is that the greed, pride, and violence of the Babylonians will be the means of their downfall, to which, some time may pass before the judgment comes upon them, but it will definitely come. We see, though, that the just shall live by faith.

Habakkuk speaks concerning the moral problem and boldly challenges God to defend His actions in 1:13. He doesn’t see why such a wicked nation is used to punish a nation more righteous than it. Habakkuk may be blaming God or challenging Him that He has the same moral standards as the Babylonians.

Habakkuk’s consecration compares to that of “Job” and is seen in 3:16-19. The prophet here shudders as he thinks of such a judgment that has been conjured up. He hopes that he can trust in the justice and mercy of God, so he decides that fields and flock may be destroyed – however, he will stay faithful unto God. He has decided to rest in the knowledge and wisdom of God – who is of infinite power and knows what’s He’s doing! Trusting in God then would mean the answer to questions, doubts, among other complaints that he had before.

Habakkuk was very passionate about his preaching and had very fervent prayers. Judah showed no sign of improvement, and all around him, the Prophet sees violence, lawlessness, injustice, and other evils. He knows God is holy and just, so he asks God how long will He allow this wickedness to go unpunished. He couldn’t believe the iniquity of the land, and hoped God would do something!

If God is holy, as Habakkuk determines, then how can he use Babylon to punish Judah, when the Babylonians are far more wicked than the Judeans? He believes that God is unnecessarily siding with Babylon, and beholding evil – rather than deal with the Babylonians as well for their sin is equal to or greater than the Judeans (among others).

Habakkuk’s prayer was in 3:1-19. Habakkuk describes the appearance of God in His work of judging the nations and saving His People. He then recalls the mighty works that God’s done for His People, and prays that God will act on their behalf again. However, he knows that when God’s anger is troubled over sinners, Israel’s enemies aren’t the only ones who will suffer – for God’s People are also sinners, and therefore, the Prophet prays for God’s mercy in dealings with them. He pictures God’s judgment in so many vivid ways, and then he shudders of the judgment of the people. His hopes and trusts in the justice and mercy of God. Fields and flocks might be destroyed, but Habakkuk promises to remain faithful to God. He rests in God’s knowledge and wisdom, to which, the trust is the answer to his questions, doubts, and other complains that he had.

It reveals that Habakkuk must trust in God that He knows what He is doing, and that he will joy in his own Salvation. He trusts in the God of infinite wisdom and knowledge, and His Will is perfect. Deep trust is given for God, and therefore, he feels that trusting in God is the answer to the questions, doubts, and complaints.

Nahum calls Christ “The Stronghold”

Nineveh, which was founded by Nimrod, was famous for centuries. They’d responded to the Prophet Jonah’s message about 200 years before. Sin abounded again, however, and therefore, the commandments of God were forgotten. Nineveh had walls up to 100 feet high, 7 ½ miles around, and wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast on the wall. The city presented a formidable front to any invader. It had boasted 1200 defense towers and a moat outside the walls up to 140 feet wide and 60 feet deep.

Anyway, in Jerusalem, Manasseh reigned; then his son Amon ruled, and finally, youthful Josiah began his eventful reign. The reformation under Josiah’s leadership caused a great change in the life of the nation. When the Book of the Law was found and read to the people, they had set out to clean up the land, and then set up the worship that was described in the book.

It was written to the Ninevites (who Jonah had a mission to 200 years prior to this). It seems they were back to their old sins again, so God sent another to take care of them. Christ is seen in this book as “The Stronghold.” Man is pictured as an “Apostate.” Nahum 2:2, “For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.” Verse five, “He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.”

The destruction of Nineveh was the theme of the book along with vengeance is God’s! Nineveh had repented in Jonah’s day, but apostasizing had set in against the compassionate God. The period of this Book is about 610-620 BC, which was about 200 years after Jonah’s prophecy warning Nineveh, and a little less than a hundred years when the Temple was restored by King Hezekiah. The other prophets near this era was very limited – it was only Nahum and Zephaniah until about 590 BC when Jeremiah came… Soon, there would be numerous prophets due to the state of the fallen world, especially with the trouble caused by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon – it was literally an “end of the world scenario” at that time.

On every page, we see a vivid picture of Nineveh’s doom, as the judgment of the Lord loomed near, and it is sure and final for vengeance is the Lord’s. Its style was great beauty, especially in poetic imagery, dramatic descriptions, and vivid imagination. Nahum describes the swift and relentless sweep of the enemy with great vividness and color. The teaching value of the book includes that it teaches most convincingly that we reap what we sow, whether as a man or as a nation. It is similar in style to Paul’s warning to the Galatians (6:7-8), for Paul said, “Be not deceived” – which compares to Nahum 1:2-3. There is a limit to God’s patience with sin and unrepentance. God is in control throughout the world. The arrogance that indulges in senseless destruction of life and property angers God. We see seven attributes of God, which include, longsuffering, justice, omnipotence, holiness, goodness, omniscience, and His vengeance.

The portions of utter significance

  • 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” This displays attributes of God; what He’s feeling as this book opens, so that people are well aware of what is going on from the start. This is a sharp exposition to begin with, and shows that God is not happy.
  • 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Having this verse follow the previous verse shows simply that God doesn’t usually get angry, and it seems His anger is fueled at the troublesome ways of the wicked.
  • 1:6, “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.” This again describes vividly the imagery of His anger. The countering verse follows:
  • 1:7, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” This speaks that the Lord is good overall, and a stronghold in the day of trouble. It speaks for itself and is a good verse. It also said that the Lord knows who trusts in Him, and therefore, it can be said that the Lord does love His People, but just not some of the things they do.
  • 1:15, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” God shall be victorious, and soon a messenger will bring them good news of the overthrow of Assyria – therefore, they can worship God in thanksgiving, sincerity, and joy!
  • 2:3, “The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.” This is very vivid imagery of the uniformed soldiers with their chariots as the enemies approach the city walls – things begin heating up, and this shows something big is coming.
  • 2:10: “She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.” This shows simply the aftermath of this destruction, as the Assyrians were quite cruel and ruthless in their treatment of the nations that they attacked. People just look with horror at the destroyed city.
  • 3:18-19, “Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” We see that Assyria’s leaders will be killed, which leaves those people without a leader and an easy prey for attackers. Therefore, Assyria will fall for the last time, and those who suffered from their cruelty will rejoice headstrong!

People have been plenty warned of God’s Vengeance. This is not the only time when He had to escalate measures to bring His People back into alignment. Here are the other instances (not exhaustive list):

  • Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
  • Psalm 94:1, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.”
  • Exodus 20:5, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
  • Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
  • Deuteronomy 7:10, “And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.”
  • Zechariah 1:14, “So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”
  • Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
  • Hebrews 10:30, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
  • Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

This may seem like a grim book, but that’s the way it was at this state. It’s important to evaluate the cause and effect of pre-salvation. This book sure revealed the state of the world before it was about to go through an extraordinary judgment.

“God is my judge” – The prophet named Daniel

OVERALL:

  • Daniel was a statesman Prophet as the others were.
  • His name means, “God is my Judge.”
  • He mainly wrote to “The Gentile Rulers in Babylon” – which included the Chaldean, Mede, and Persian.
  • He was a “kingdom” man, because he seemed to always have knowledge of the political realm, but also was given visions of the future coming of the Kingdom of God!
  • He seemed to be the only Prophet who didn’t just picture Christ as just a shepherd, but he pictured Christ as a coming ruler of the world! The other Prophets seemed to picture Christ as being around for a temporary era or some other kind of symbolic form.

Historical background of Daniel

Daniel was carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar at the time of the first invasion, which was in the third year of Jehoiakim. Ezekiel was then taken to Babylon in the second invasion, to which, was eight years later than Daniel and eleven years before the complete destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel and Daniel had ministered entirely outside of Palestine, however, Daniel’s Ministry was to powerful Gentile rulers, whereas Ezekiel’s Ministry was to poor Jewish exiles. It was established that Ezekiel and Daniel were Prophets at the same time. Though they did not work hand-in-hand, they still carried out God’s Will.

In Jerusalem overall, the people are in constant turmoil. Jehoiakim is succeed by his son, who reigned only three months before going to captivity in Babylon along with many others in Judah. Daniel was taken in a group along with other captives to Babylon. Zedekiah was left on the throne in Jerusalem as the agent of the Babylonian government, and Jeremiah was the preacher still in the Holy City of Jerusalem to carry God’s message to the people.

Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar returned to put down the rebellion of Zedekiah and take the rest of the people to join the exiles by the river Chebar. Many things were destroyed in Jerusalem, and others were taken away to captivity, to which, Jeremiah’s prophecy had happened. In Babylon, conditions were just as horrible. We see Daniel and a few other Jewish boys come in 605 BC, and Ezekiel and the upper class brought in 598 BC.

It is believed that he belonged to a family of high ranking and possibly of the royal house. He was taken, then, in the first group when the aristocracy was deported. He was taken into captivity in Babylon at age 16, and the remainder of his life (which was 69 years) was spent in Babylon, where he lived a saintly life in a sinful court. Ezekiel referred to Daniel as a pattern of piety, a ruler of righteousness. Daniel was of a despised servile people, and yet, he never deviated in his devotion to Jehovah.

Daniel rose to positions of highest power under four absolute monarchs of three different nations – Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of Chaldea; Darius of Media; and Cyrus of Persia.

He compares with Revelation and Ezekiel as an Apocalyptic Prophet – which would be a writer concerning the end times. It says in Daniel 7:15, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” He had many visions, especially of the end times, and it took a toll on his mindset (good and bad). He was faithful to God, even in a foreign land to the point of disobeying the King. He was pious, and wanted to keep his piety and was willing to risk his life for it. He also refused to sinfully bow down to the idols they had offered. He ministered to the Gentile rulers by interpreting dreams and visions, to which, he was a true prophet and discerner of things. His warning to those in the future was about the Second Coming of Christ, which involved end-time events people needed to be aware.

The Monarchs ruling in Daniel’s day

  • Nebuchadnezzar of Chaldea – He was the second king of Babylon; succeeding his father on the throne in 604 BC and reigned until 561 BC. Daniel 1:1 says this, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.” Appears Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem, and he seemed to be a power hungry leader – who cared very little for the captives.
  • Belshazzar of Chaldea – A free drinker (he seemed to like the bottle very much as we see in the fifth chapter of Daniel); he was the Chaldean king under whom Babylon was taken by Darius of Median.
  • Darius of Mede/Median – The son of Xerxes (9:1) was reigning now over the Chaldeans. In 6:1, we see that he was placed over the kingdom of a hundred and twenty princes. Daniel was the first (an important figure).
  • Cyrus of Persia – He led Persia in its conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, and was important for bringing God’s purposes in Israel to fulfillment, as we see in Isaiah 45:1. He gave the Jews that were held captive the permission to return to their homeland and rebuild their life and religion (as we see in Ezra 1:1-4).

Jesus sealed this book

Jesus set His seal upon this book as “inspired of God” in Matthew 24:15 – to which, was quoted previously, and His own title, “Son of Man,” was based on Daniel 7:13. Both the Lord Jesus and Daniel prophesy the “coming in the clouds with power and glory” – as we see in Daniel 7:13-14 and Matthew 24:30.

Three major divisions of his writings

  1. The Prologue of Daniel (1-2:45) – Daniel as he grew up, and the hard times that he faced were explained, especially under Nebuchadnezzar. Also, we see Nebuchadnezzar’s dream unfold, and Daniel wanted to help interpret it.
  2. The Promotion of Daniel (2:46-6:28) – Because of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he was promoted to Chief Administrator of the Kingdom and Head over his Council of Advisers. Daniel revealed another dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s and urged him to repent, to which, he finally submitted humbly to God. Later, new leaders over his region not knowing his record with Nebuchadnezzar, he was accused of different things. He also rejected bowing down or attending to the new religious law they made, so he was punished into the lion’s den – to which, God miraculously saved him and it was a sign unto the people that God was great.
  3. The Previews of Daniel (7-12:13) – Daniel has several different apocalyptic visions of Jesus and the end times, to which, he describes in incredible detail.

Dream of the “image” interpreted

What Nebuchadnezzar saw was a huge statue made of a variety of substances, from head to toe, decreased in value but increased in strength. The fee, however, which supported the statue were brittle. A huge stone, which was supernaturally formed, struck the statue at its feet so that the whole thing would crumble to dust and be blown away. The stone, however, grew into a mountain, which covered the whole earth.

The dream concerned the future of the King’s Kingdom, to which, the climax of the coming events would lead. Its main purpose was to show Nebuchadnezzar that God is the sovereign ruler of the world – and that He sets up kingdoms and destroys the same with His Own Will.

Therefore, the Medo-Persian Empire (which was the chest and arms of silver) would soon replace the mighty Babylonian Empire headed by Nebuchadnezzar (the head of gold) as the ruling power. The Medo-Persian Empire would be replced by the Greek Empire (which is typified by the belly and thighs of bronze).

Finally, the Roman Empire will take it last (legs of iron) and also take in more scattered states. However, it wouldn’t be able to holds its empire together in a stable union (symbolized by the feet that were part iron, part clay and brittle).

During such time in the Roman Empire then, God would intervene and the might empires would crumble before the coming of the supernatural king, Jesus Christ. How incredible! The supernatural stone coming to smash the feet typified this. The Kingdom of God introduced by Jesus Christ would overspread the world and last eternally (to which, is finally symbolized by the great mountain that filled the earth).

The values Daniel taught all people

  • The Lord should be glorified, because He is our deliverer. ·        We should encourage each other and build each other up as well.
  • We should resist the forces and enemies of our faith.
  • We should learn and attend to the vision and Prophecies of the end times, so we can get a more glorious picture of Christ.
  • We are to be a witness of the end time revelation, based on how God leads us to acknowledge His glory!
  • Though we face hard times and trial, we must always stand up for what we believe in – because in the end: God works everything out for the good.
  • We don’t have to worry, because God is our provider.
  • He is excellent in every way and will give us opportunities to minister unto people – where He will reveal His glory to that person being ministered to.

The value of chapter 6

Chapter 6 is a favorite chapter, because it shows the most intense fear anyone can face is when they fear for their life – but, ultimately, it shows that Daniel’s uncompromising belief in God, especially His Salvation, would free Him from it and He would be glorified in the end. Even through potentially intense fear, Daniel instead chose to believe in God’s Salvation and knew He would be there in the end!

  • When Daniel returned to his high office, he had troubles because Babylon has just fallen the night he was reinstated to office. The new rulers were aware of his record under Nebuchadnezzar, so they made him one of the three presidents that would help administrate.
  • He had great abilities, and the other two presidents became jealous of him, so they wanted him out. However, they didn’t find any kind of mismanagement or offense to bring against him, so they crafted a strategy to cause him to stumble.
    • The object of their plunder was to bring in a new religious law that Daniel would not obey, because of “religious” or “pious” beliefs.
    • They weaseled their way right into the king’s hand by making him believe that the three presidents came up with the idea together, and therefore, King Darius agreed to the order. o   When Daniel heard of the new law, it was already approved and sealed from the King, to which, he could do nothing. He made no effort to obey it, because of his piety.
    • The other two presidents worked out a way to catch him in the act so they could accuse him to the King. They had him condemned finally and then thrown into the den of lions – even if the King didn’t want it to happen like that.
    • God, however, had a different plan, and decided to deliver Daniel – which showed that God was glad that Daniel did not sin. This also showed that Daniel did not do anything against the King, and that God would be made known to them as merciful and good – therefore, they had believed that the God of David was good and that they approve!
  • Daniel continued to prosper in the administration!

What is Israel’s hope and future? Exploring the prophet named Ezekiel

OVERALL:

  • Ezekiel was called The Exile Prophet of Hope, for he wrote to The Jewish Exiles in Babylon concerning hope for the future of the Israelite Nation.
  • He was one where he wrote in a cause-effect pattern, where he talked about the judgment and sins of Jerusalem for the first half for the book of Ezekiel, and then talked about returning to the land and the new age for the other half.
  • His pattern of writing had to do with showing what the problem is, and what the Lord will do to bring hope to the people!

The background of Ezekiel

He had quite an impressive status, which was an aristocrat of Jerusalem, a descendant from Zadok’s line. He was a proud and confident person as he looked to the future of the Priesthood, involving God’s chosen people. He was called one of the most influential men, and was greatly influence by the preaching of Jeremiah and the reform of Josiah.

As far as personal abilities were concerned, he was an utterly helpless one before the might God who controlled him, for his whole philosophy and utterances were colored because of the Hand of God upon him and vision of “God’s Glory.” He was also a “Mediator” and in deep thought usually. Sometimes harsh, bold, or blunt – he was also uncompromising. He was a man of deep convictions, with a fearless determination, and housed a heart deeply sympathetic with abiding love for his people who needed a pastor – someone to shepherd them back to the Lord (and hope). His education comes through as a careful planning scenario and an orderly dating of all his writings. He outlined things well, and helped many people through his writings.

He was a married man, but his wife died the year of when the final siege of Jerusalem began.  His wife was apparently a symbol of the Temple, as he began a very picturesque, but powerful ministry at 35 – after his captivity in Babylon. At this time, Jeremiah was approaching the end of his valiant, but tragic career.

Now, for the call of God on his life, God laid his hand upon Ezekiel just as he did Jeremiah, and he felt it. He was called to the lonely exiles on the riverbanks of Chebar. In a dramatic way, he describes for us his vision and call to service, which was a vision of God’s glory. In this vision, he beheld the “Glory of God,” and “felt” the Hand of the Lord. He even saw the likeness of God’s being and fell upon his face. A voice spoke to him commissioning him. He received several commissions overall, which had much to do with returning unto God and beholding His Glory.

Historical background of Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, we see the people in constant turmoil. Jehoiakim is succeed by his son, who reigned only three months before going to captivity in Babylon along with many others in Judah. Ezekiel was taken in this group along with 10,000 other captives. Zedekiah was left on the throne in Jerusalem as the agent of the Babylonian government, and Jeremiah was the preacher still in the Holy City of Jerusalem to carry God’s message to the people.

Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar returned to put down the rebellion of Zedekiah and take the rest of the people to join the exiles by the river Chebar. Many things were destroyed in Jerusalem, and others were taken away to captivity, to which, Jeremiah’s prophecy had happened. In Babylon, conditions were just as horrible. We see Daniel and a few other Jewish boys come in 605 BC, and Ezekiel and the upper class brought in 598 BC. For several years, ten thousand exiles lived in a concentration camp in Babylon, while Ezekiel and the upper class of people carried on in Jerusalem.

For five years, the captives had no preacher of priest to help them. In this dark hour, Ezekiel hears the call of God and began to serve. For six years, he wanted to break down false hopes of an early return to Palestine, and wanted to prepare the captives of the bad news of the destruction of the Holy City. The Jewish people were in a darkened state with their Temple gone, and very little opportunity for business – false prophets were abundant. Complaints and murmurs, among wails filled the air. Ezekiel dealt with many different kinds of people, particularly negative people.

Ezekiel’s ordeal (his mission)

His mission was clearly revealed by God as the Spirit entered into him and cleansed him of bitterness. He had a revelation of the “Glory of God” to which he was to destroy false hopes of an early return to Jerusalem, interpret the meaning and purpose of the exile to gather up and preserve the teachings of Historians, Psalmists, and Prophets, to organize new forms for worship and life in the restored community, to preserve Israel’s soul in Babylon, and to stimulate new hope for the future Israel. He was to be an effective watchman also in the dark days of captivity. His message was that before they could even hope to return to Jerusalem, they had to return to the Lord.

New Testament fulfillment

  • Israel’s restoration as a nation as they await their Messiah (34:11-31; 36:1-15, 23-38; 37:1-28)
  • The Battle of Armageddon at the return of Christ (38:1-39:20)
  • Rebuilding of the Temple by the Messiah for Millennial and eternal worship (40:5-43:12)
  • The Millennial (1000 years) and eternal river from the Temple spoke about in The Book of Revelation (47:1-12)

Practical things Ezekiel communicated to help all people

  • The heart of God wants His People back, and He longs for their return unto Him.
  • Each person is responsible for their own sins, and therefore, are subject to consequences individually.
  • Each minister that is called is subject to their own troubles, but they cannot let that stop them from continuing the work of the Lord.
  • Love must be expressed in everything we do.
  • Repentance is important and makes alive the reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Good godly conduct and behavior should emanate through us on a normal basis.

Do you see the similarities in what the New Testament authors, apostles, disciples, etc. tried to communicate compared to Ezekiel? Yeah, almost every one of these match.

Circumcision as a Jewish rite is not required for Salvation | Colossians 2:11-12

“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Commentary: In a nutshell…Paul is illustrating here a likening of Christian Salvation to the common Jewish rite of circumcision; however, he is also refuting the need for Jewish circumcision for Salvation. Paul was saying that Salvation through Christ is like a cutting away of the flesh, in that a physical part is not cut away, but the old nature where the man sinned was cut away. This would help the man realize that he does not have to sin anymore to fulfill his own desires, for he is charged now to fulfill God’s Desires, his new life in Christ.

Peter and Paul’s argument: You may know Peter and Paul railed against each other over whether Christians, Messianic Jews or Gentiles, should be physically circumcised. What needed to be straight between them two to finally seal the argument is the line drawn between the Law being fulfilled in Christ, and what requirements believers should have in fulfilling the Law. Peter had been stuck in Jewish school for quite some time; however, Paul was an astute scholar in Jewish culture, rites, and overall religious duties – so much that he was a fundamentalist.

Expanded: In Colossians 2:11, we are circumcised in Christ and are made complete. How this occurred was that Christ first had to accomplish this, to which death had been cut off from Him, ceasing the old order of things. Therefore, He died to sin, and lived to God. He no longer serves sin even though He had no sin but could still be tempted as we saw His annoyances in the wilderness especially, but serves God. Sin no more, God wholehearted. This was His model for us and what He does for us (Romans 6:10).

How does this translate to us… We are saved, death comes in between ourselves and the flesh, which allows us to be separate from the flesh so that it can no longer be served (no more serving of sin). Therefore, we do not serve man or serve this world – we serve God!

Verse 11 talks about death, in other words. Then, in verse 12, this shows burial and resurrection. Burial completes and sanctions death, which means that we are buried in baptism, and then risen in Christ through faith just as God raised Christ from the dead.

Include verse 13 as an end-note, but this is important… We pass from what has been accomplished in Christ to our individual accomplishment, which can only be done by Christ. What shall we say then? Our sins are blotted out by the cross, and the legal system controlling man is no longer in control of us – we are no longer under law, but under grace.

What is interesting is that this is actually a parable that the Jews would understand quite well – as long as they believe in Christ and been saved of course. Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6 tells us that our hearts should be circumcised so that we do not become stiffnecked, but also that we shall love our Lord thy God with all our heart and soul, which brings us life. My tone changes now, when I read from Jeremiah 4:4, but this is vital, because it is a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus and explained well in Romans 6:6 (please read these references if you have the chance). God is giving a prophecy through Jeremiah that people are to circumcise their own hearts to be rid of sin (something only Jesus could do in Salvation, by the way), and if this is not done, God will bring His fury upon them because of their evil. Jesus fulfills this because our old man is crucified with Him and the body of sin is destroyed so we no longer serve sin and no longer are subject to God’s Wrath.

Another insightful piece is that Joshua was Moses’ minister, and Jesus is the minister to the Gentiles. But Jesus is our minister (Romans 15:8). For Joshua in Joshua 5:2-9, where the Israelites are circumcised in Canaan. Joshua is the type for circumcision, and Jesus is the antitype and author of the true circumcision (of Christ)(also see Romans 2:29).

People continue to sin, even though the sinful nature has been separated from them, because of a weakness to specific lusts. First, believers should know that their struggle against sin is common, because we still have memory of our old self being involved in sin, we characterize that as a normal human activity – so the temptation comes along and we feel urged to resolve it by committing to the action associated with the temptation.

However, that needs put away through confession and repentance of sin. Because we are told that we are to not yield our members as instruments of wickedness to sin (which means that Christians must have the ability to do so). People should yield their bodies for use to God for righteousness sake, and in doing this, sin will not have power over us. You see? Sin nature removed from us removes its power over us; therefore, since we no longer serve sin but serve God, we are much less apt to sin.

This is all shaped by not being under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14). We are delivered from sin’s slavery so that we can obey God, not go back to sinning and committing wicked acts (Galatians 5:1). This explains that freedom has a purpose: to breed obedience to God. Freedom of choice has always been ordinance of man. Even if a Christian is found sinning, there is no shame because Jesus put that shame to death, removing the condemnation from us (Romans 8:1). We would lie if we say we did not have sin, which is why Jesus did what He did to reassure us that we are safe from condemnation (1 John 1:8; 2:1).

Other notes: 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 King James Version (KJV) 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire… (See also: Hebrews 11:26-27).