Exact Ezekiel; Chapters 1-3
January 1, 2017

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2017

Exact Ezekiel
Chapters 1-3

Today begins the first in a series of studies covering the entire book of Ezekiel. This work is entitled, Exact Ezekiel, because the prophet performed every assignment by the Lord with meticulous efficiency. He became the model for future times when dependency on the Holy Spirit's leadership would require similar adherence to detail. The mantra of "Obedience is better than sacrifice" is a hallmark throughout history. (Do you remember the Old Testament "man of God" who stopped by a fellow prophet's home, when specifically told not to linger in the land, and got himself attacked and killed by a lion, I Kings 13:24?)

(Note: For a more detailed introduction to Ezekiel go to pages 225-233, Sealed Unto His Coming.)

King Zedekiah:

Biblical History plays an important part in understanding this book. Judah and Benjamin, the two remaining tribes of Israel, were being carried away in a massive resettlement to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar dismantled the government of Israel. He captured Jehoichin, took him to Babylon and set up Mattaniah to reign in his place.

2 Kings 24:8-25:1:
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. 12 Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.

13 (The Captivity of Jerusalem) And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 14 Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 15 And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
(Read also: 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 52:1-3)
Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 19 He also did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 20 For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Notice please the fact that all history is spiritual in nature. The underlined portions, above, give this truth an added punch. It was God who deposed Zedekiah even though history says it was Nebuchadnezzar.

Ezekiel's account begins with a date midway through Zedekiah's eleven year reign. Jerusalem had not yet been burned nor the walls broken down. Jeremiah was mostly in prison, repeatedly sent there by his kin.

(Remember how Isaiah prophesied in the 700's BC and said that unless Israel changed their ways and repented and revised their view of God, they would be punished? Now it was happening.)

Isaiah was followed many years later by Jeremiah, who told Judah they had just a short time to repent or they would fall. His prophetic words landed him in prison and caused him to be in constant disfavor with his contemporaries, both king and prophet.

King Zedekiah and his entourage did not have favor with God. Hence, they were in dilemma and lacked direction and knowledge. The king's plans failed and his prophets capitulated during the last years of his reign. The prophets said, "We may get captured, but God said it would only be a short time before our return." They ventured their time would be seven years. That may have been why Ezekiel was called in the fifth year because there would be great disappointment when seven turned to seventy. One might call those prophets--false. They promoted a "prophetic lie."

(How many false prophets are there today?)

Enter Ezekiel:

This priestly son of Buzi was about to receive his mandate from heaven, as he labored with the other captives in what could have been a demeaning job around the river Chebar. Ezekiel lived in a community of the captured. More than likely, he was carried off with the other bright young people in the first diaspora to Babylon, along with Daniel and the three Hebrew children. He would one day answer a whole nation's inquiry of,

"How in the world did we wind up here?"

But first, he had to be anointed, separated for the task and given special authority. His account of the heavenly visitation was not unlike Isaiah's or Jeremiah's in impact; however, it contained elements refined just for him.

Ezek 1:1-3:
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, 3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.

"The hand of the Lord" is not just a feeling; it is an anointing of power beyond the senses reach. Definite in touch, it demands attention even to the blotting out of all other considerations. His hand reassures, transmits confidence and gently directs focus. By His hand, one enters the "God realm of reality on an eternal scale." It silences the noise of the world and causes one to step into the sovereign reign of heaven.

Standing in the place called "there," made Ezekiel aware of the close proximity of heaven and gave him understanding of the importance of God's people in the Father's eyes.

The Vision:

Ezek 1:4-28:
4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. 6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. 8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. 9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.

10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.

The Four Living Creatures:

Though there are differences between the living creatures of Ezekiel and those John saw in Revelation, there also are similarities as well. One main difference is Ezekiel saw "man" as the first face.

Describing the four living creatures, John says that the first was like a lion. A lion is the "King of the beasts" and represents majesty. Christ is portrayed in the Gospel of Mathew as "King of Kings".

The Ox was a servant animal sometimes used for sacrifice. Jesus is portrayed as "Sacrifice" for our sins. Mark in his gospel presents "Christ as the servant" who was to be sacrificed.

Representative of the highest in the creation cycle was "the face as a man," representing Christ as a man. The Gospel of Luke presents Christ as the Perfect Man. He is described in Philippians 2, "as Christ who left His position of Glory with the Father" and became a man so that He might die on the cross for our sin.

The face of an eagle symbolizes Sovereignty and Supremacy. Thus the living creature represents Jesus in all his deity. John's gospel presents Jesus as the Son of God and shows His relationship with heaven.

These four living creatures are shown constantly moving, as they protect the throne of God in its holiness. When Israel was camping in the wilderness, there were special precautions taken with the tabernacle which was the habitation of God in their midst. The Tabernacle was always in the center of the camp and was surrounded by 12 tribes.


(On the east side was Judah which had a banner of a Lion. Ephraim was on the west with a standard of the ox. Reuben was on the South with the standard of a Man and Dan was on the north with a standard of an eagle.)

Engulfed in Manifest Glory :

Fire, in the vision scene, is descriptive of Glory. Cloven tongues of fire graced the upper room in Acts and is the defining element in true fellowship among the saints. Judgment Fire was called out to assist in Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Fire fell upon Sodom. Fire speaks of Holiness where man's dross is burned away in its refining power. It was the evangelism ignition of Jeremiah with fire in his bones. Three Hebrew children saw holiness fire overcome natural fire. The fire of the Holy Ghost obliterates the opposition.

Ezek 1:13-14:
13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning

Wheel in the middle of a wheel:

Making a perfect gyroscopic vehicle is still a spectacle, even in our day. One can conjure many types of machinery in his attempt to emulate what Ezekiel saw.

Creature ability to project their spirit upon a device for travel is something science has not been able to replicate. Nonetheless, the mode of travel described in the following verses is enviable, to say the least. Having four faces facilitated travel in any direction without turning; this, coupled with the all seeing prospect of "eyes," is daunting.

15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. 17 When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. 18 As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. 19 When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. 20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. 23 And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. 24 When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. 25 A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.

Command Central:

In verse twenty-five, we are not told what "the voice" said, but we do know the creatures stood at attention. Ezekiel heard this voice above the roar of the wings and the wheels. What happened next brought him into the presence of God and His majesty.

26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.

Isaiah saw the "Lord high and lifted up." Jeremiah was taken to the altar in the Temple of heaven and touched by coal's of fire. Now, Ezekiel will join the ranks of his predecessors and become God's special agent with an assignment. His priestly duties would fade before the urgency of his mandate.

(Note: Oh, this is the greatest need the nations have and they don't know it. They need to hear an anointed voice with an anointed message freshly taken from the altar of God. The nations need to see a man who has stood in the presence of angels, creatures and the throne of the Most High. They need to see what it means to operate in the exactness of the Spirit. Multitudes would then be able to see the contrast between such anointing and the haughty crowd of clerics to whom they submit.)

Ezekiel's response:

Ezekiel 1:28- Ezekiel 2:1-5:
So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.

And He said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you." 2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. 3 And He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' 5 As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse - for they are a rebellious house - yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.

There it is. God calls Ezekiel "Son of Man," the same term of endearment that was descriptive of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Notice how God pictures Ezekiel's audience encompassing the whole of Israel, including his own relatives and fellow priests. "Impudent and stubborn children" and a "rebellious nation," having a history of transgressing the Laws of God is not a complimentary appraisal. BUT, it was accurate, and when God gives His point of view-that is fact.

(The question arises, "What is God's appraisal of your nation and society?" Does anyone care to know? Daily, ministers ply media with their appraisals, and sadly, there is little given under the standard of, "THUS SAITH THE LORD!")

God is not interested in His servant receiving the applause of man. Ezekiel was told, "whether they listen or not they must get a glimpse of a true PROPHET of God."

Ezekiel 2:6-10:
6 "And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. 7 You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you."

9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

Ezek 3:1-3:
Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.

3 And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you." So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.

Ingesting without indigestion:

There is a sweetness to the Word of God. There is a taste of delight as those words are received in power and again when those words roll off the tongue in delivery. Those words change everything in their presence. Those words have life and to savor them brings life to the hearer and faith to the receiver.

Ezekiel was told to ingest the scroll containing the "entire message for His career." He was to take that message and become identified with every word. He was to be inseparable from his task. Those words were to flow from his inner being like living water and the bread of covenant. David knew this dimension as well.

Ps 34:8: Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;

Ps 119:103-105:
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

That scroll changed the entire person of Ezekiel. His self image was changed from priest to prophet. It changed forever his relationships. His mandate became his mantle. These words occupied every aspect of his life, including not being able to be self-reliant. Like the true minister, he went where God directed him and took no initiative of his own. He spoke what God gave him, to people he was sent to. He delivered his message on God's timetable. He traveled under God's direction -in other words, he laid down his life.

(That's the kind of brother I want to be around and listen to. They are the dignitaries of Jude.)

Not a Foreign Missionary:

Ezek 3:4-11:
4 Then He said to me: "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, 6 not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. 8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house."

10 Moreover He said to me: "Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. 11 And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them,
'Thus says the Lord GOD,' whether they hear, or whether they refuse."

Jesus could do little in his home country because of the same heart condition as God said was prevalent in Ezekiel's time: "impudent and hard hearted."

(Note: Oh church, these were the religious folk. These were the Temple stalwarts in both eras. Would it be amiss to cry out and ask, "How would God appraise the modern congregation?" The hardest people to have as audience are those seasoned in sin while declaring their good deeds.)

God sent Ezekiel like the prophets before him-to his own people. A Jonah, in Nineveh, had a listening audience who eventually repented. But, Ezekiel faced "self -righteous" prigs who governed a system that welcomed no messenger. This is why God conditioned Ezekiel in the fundamental aspects of his ministry: "Deliver My message and pay no attention to their comments or looks." (This is the easiest way to become a social outcast.)

Ezekiel was given a forehead of flintstone. He was instructed not to be afraid of them or their remarks. He was told not to be dismayed or lose heart-not to become despondent. In other words, "steel himself" against the slings and arrows hurled by the religious community. (Stephen knew that rocks hurled by fellow minister's hurt worse than those sent by ignorant followers-they both killed him as he cried, "Forgive them.")

Ezekiel was told to receive God's message into his heart. (Oh Listen! An anointed message, pouring out of a heart filled with His word, cannot come from a tearless face.)

Heart messages sound different than prepared texts from professional pulpiteers. Heart messages bear lasting fruit of a different order. (Oh church, millions of congregants have never heard such preaching. Oh Lord, prepare some Ezekiel's for our day! Let men of God hear and see what Ezekiel saw and out of the glory come with a message of fire from the coal's of the Holy Temple.)

Ezekiel's commission was to address "the captives." They had learned nothing from their experience of being conquered. With hard hearts and stubborn ways, they failed to repent. (Now, we are on the brink of what Revelation portrays as the unrepentant attitude of the multitudes facing the onslaught of heavenly wrath.)

Made a Watchman:

(Read also, Jeremiah 4:16 and Daniel 4:17)

Ezek 3:14-17: 14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel…"

After ingesting into every fiber of his being, "lamentations, mourning and woe," and receiving that message in the context of a heavenly Glory-Ezekiel returned home and sat in astonishment. He was being changed as he countenanced what had just happened. Unlike Isaiah, who answered a call with "send me," Ezekiel was conscripted and made to realize he was an enlisted man now.

The words of his commission were summed in "I have made you a watchman." That is a burdensome office! He would not be a watchman as portrayed in Song of Solomon. They were paid, but slothful in their work. He would be the reflection of the heavenly watchmen, like the ones who accommodated Daniel's prayer (Daniel 4). Ezekiel knew the job description required warning the people of impending danger and being alert to threats both within and without.

God MADE him a watchman. Ezekiel was reminded of his watchmen statues again in Ezekiel 33:3 which is very much like his commission in chapter 3. There is such a vast difference between self -appointed watchmen and those made so by God. When God makes something, it is perfect and marked for sustained success.

Blood Vent:

Ezek 3:17-19:
…therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

My, what an "onus," is in this mandate. In order to save himself from blood guiltiness, Ezekiel must deliver God's message when He said it, to whom He said it and where He said. The results were left to God. Every person who heard the message must determine for himself to receive it or reject it. Their response had nothing to do with the situation-the message must go out in order to escape their blood being upon the prophet.

Along with this mandate came an interesting feature: "the righteous that do iniquity."

The very fact such a priestly matter is considered is, in itself, unique. Ezekiel had officiated many times as a priest, offering sacrifices for such persons, but this was a different matter. Encountering righteous men who sin and confronting them with a prophetic warning is different than preaching to the multitude. Just consider the confrontation that might occur. This is a whole new category of sinner. What would happen today, if the men of God, with the message of God, would begin to confront backslidden preachers and church leaders with one message: repent or perish.

What would be the response?

Remember, Ezekiel was sent to his own religious community.

The Place Called THERE:

In the book, En Punto, a chapter is given to this subject. A significant factor in the life of a prophet is being at the right place and at the right time. Often this is not revealed except by the Spirit and then it is not based on convenience to the schedule of the man of God. Philip, for instance, was given directions while at home resting from a Samaritan outpouring. In Acts 8, it says, "he arose and went." He required no extra time to talk with his family, give a location of his whereabouts, or secure documentation for border crossing. He made no personal provision for his water, meals or travel expense. Result: one man carried God's message to Ethiopia, and it lasted 2,000 years.

Ezek 3:22-4:1:
22 Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, "Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you."

23 So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24 Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: "Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. 26 I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them,'Thus says the Lord GOD.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house."

Often THERE is not of our choosing, but most always is somewhere away from our routine. Ezekiel was told to go to a plain, which speaks of an area like a wilderness. He arose and went (v.23). There he was baptized in the Holy Spirit ("The Spirit entered me, v.24"). He heard the audible voice of the Spirit speaking from within and telling him the future. He was told how the religious folks will bind him up like some crazy man and how his tongue will cling to the roof of his mouth until a message from God must be given. (How he communicated with others is not covered.) He must not offer resistance to be bound. This will happen in his own house; since he was a captive, he had no civil rights.

Starting a ministry under these circumstances required a different spirit than that of clergy today. It spoke of an obedience that most would say was a demand on the unreasonable. However, the forthcoming verses will over and again lead Ezekiel into more unusual commitments. It is not an easy road for a true prophet, but is better than a lion's mouth.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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Last modified: 02/04/2019