8 Things to Know About Ezekiel Before Sunday
On Sunday, we begin a worship and Bible study series on the book of Ezekiel. It’s 48 chapters divided into 4 parts like a four-act play. Most SMBS classes are teaching the material on Sunday morning. Here are some things to know.
- Ezekiel had two jobs. Like many people who change careers at mid-life, Ezekiel did too. He was a priest in Jerusalem before he moved to Nippur.
- Ezekiel and several families moved. He knew what it was like to be forcibly taken from his home along with hundreds of other people. The people saw it as punishment; God used the exile to rescue the people and give them a new start. Ezekiel explained how a relocation was God’s merciful salvation. If you’ve ever moved when you least expected, or someone left your household surprisingly, Ezekiel can relate.
- Ezekiel was a visionary. He prepared his heart and mind by keeping his mouth shut and focusing on God. This year, we’re working on a vision for our church that will take us through 2020. He teaches us how to prepare our hearts for a vision. We repent from sin, and God removes our shame. God transplants our hearts and shows us a vision of a new future.
- Nippur was a shelter for the oppressed, not a city on a hill. It was located near the old city of Tel-Abib. They sheltered other people who were exiled and became a community that focused on the first commandment—you shall have no other gods before the one true God. Like the Baptist ancestor Roger Williams, they created a new kind of community to show people the kind of freedom that only comes from God.
- Wherever the people were, God showed up. God followed the people out to Nippur, caught up with them, and spoke to them through the prophet. God has a way of seeking out lost sheep, like you and me.
- Ezekiel predicts the future by describing to us a world that God builds. Ezekiel is like an architect showing you the design of God’s new temple compound and new territory. In fact, just by reading the drawings and writing them down, God removes the shame in our lives (Ezekiel 43:11). Here’s the key. All of the drawings are to be taken figuratively, not literally so we can learn how to live (not build). By showing us the place, he opens our minds to imagine a place God builds so we can start behaving as if we live in that world now. Think of Ezekiel like a architectural tour guide showing you a compound under construction that one day you would inhabit. If you knew you were going to live in the White House one day, you would behave accordingly now. If you know one day you will live in a place similar to what God designs, start living as citizens of that place now.
- It’s ok to sing Ezekiel…. And draw, too. Ezekiel is made for singing “Dem Dry Bones,” “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel,” and “Swing Down Chariot.” I learned Ezekiel through singing first. If you’re an artist, draw the wheel in a wheel or the dry bones walking. That’s what the margins of your Bible are for…and your journal, too.
- Ezekiel talks a lot about shame. We feel shame usually for who we are; we feel guilt for what we do. The exiles were ashamed of being related to the people back in Jerusalem and were shamed into thinking they were not the people God wanted. They carried a burden from their grandfather’s sins. God removes the shame of the past—and the shame of their lives—by showing them that he still wants them right now. No matter who we are, Ezekiel offers God’s mercy to you.
See you Sunday!