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Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’

It might almost seem that the first chapter of Ezekiel answers to the pained cry of the last chapter of Lamentations. That poem, which in our modern bound Bibles immediately precedes the work that bears the prophet Ezekiel’s name, ends with a picture of a royal deity whose apparent disinterest in his people exceeds all appropriate bounds:

But you, O LORD, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old—
unless you have utterly rejected us,
and are angry with us beyond measure.

It is not too much to say that the exilic prophets, Ezekiel among them, saved the life of the Jewish people. At a time when all historical currents and the circumstances of exile that pressed down upon them should have obliterated this tiny nation and erased the memory of it, the prophets pleaded that YHWH had not yet finished with his people. Lamentations leaves an awful possibility hanging in the air: unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure. (more…)

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It is difficult to take the measure of rubble.

One cannot tell where one wall ended and another began. To guess the function of the buildings that are now this pile of stone is the stuff of speculation. One can only wonder who lived here, who died, who loved, who screamed, who longed for something better than this mountain of rock and dust. (more…)

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Ezekiel makes for hard reading.

My own rather buoyant hopefulness has taken some hits in these weeks of reading slowly through this insistent book, determined as it is to mark out the profile of Israel’s failure and cut the ground from under false optimism. The text is punctuated by theodicy—what some have defined as ‘justifying the ways of God to man’—by the phrase ‘Then you shall know that I am YHWH’. (more…)

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It is important to the ethos of the book of Ezekiel that doomed people have been warned.

The logic of divine castigation requires this. Just as the desolation wrought by his overdue judgement will indicate to survivors that YHWH has been about (‘Then you shall know that I am YHWH …’), so it is important that people will have heard the voice of YHWH’s warning prior to the destruction of all that is dear to them. (more…)

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One of the New Testament’s most haunting lines is a simple affirmation about what is worthy of our fear:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10.31)

For the careful reader, all manner of presumption falls victim to such clarity. Grace, we are told in the magisterial tractate that is the ‘letter to the Hebrews’, is no pretext for the kind of falling back that betrays a rescuing, empowering God whose purposes for his followers lean forward. (more…)

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Ezekiel is perhaps the biblical anthology’s oddest prophet.

His written legacy combines the close-order attention to form and process that is common to the priest he was. Yet priestly conviction becomes combined to occasionally weird effect with the apocalyptic tendency to receive messages from God when the heavens are opened. (more…)

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