Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 24
One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.
II. Date and Historical Background
A. Theological arrangement
B. Three Visions
IV. Major Themes
A. Glory of Yahweh
B. You will know that I am Yahweh
C. Creation, de-creation and re-creation
E. Crazy apocalyptic visions
- Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."
What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament. The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.
Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.
The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.
The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.
The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.
The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.
Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.
Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.
Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.
Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.
This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.
Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.
The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.
This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.
Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.
Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.
Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.
The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.
The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.
The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.
Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.
Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.
One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.
In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.
These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.
Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.
Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.
Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.
Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.
Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.
The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.
Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.
Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.
Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.
The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.
The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.
Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books.
For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible.
What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.
What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.
Dr. Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
I. Introduction (00:13):
Now we are moving into the book of Ezekiel, the third major prophet. But there is also Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, followed by the 12 other writing prophets. I'm going to give you a little bit of a disclaimer at this point because the themes that run through the prophets are very similar in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12, in terms of Oracles against Israel and Judah and Oracles against the nations.
I'm going to move a little more quickly through these books than I have with the other books. But then we'll slow down again when I get to things like Psalms, Job, Proverbs, except those kinds of things, because those are completely distinct, in different genres. But since we've had Isaiah and Jeremiah, these guys are all doing the same thing from slightly different angles, with slightly different emphases.
They're all covenant lawyers. They're all working for the Lord. They stand in the divine council and their motto is "Thus saith the Lord". All right, "[foreign 00:01:09], Yahweh. All right. They're just doing slightly different emphases and offering slightly different visions of hope, in slightly different contexts. We're going to be able to do that. The book of Ezekiel, for some, may seem like a scary book to tackle because it's got some weird stuff in it.
It's also got some hard stuff if you have to read it out loud in church. I skipped some passages. Let me just give you a couple of people who have said some funny things about it. Here is from Jerome. He's the first century church historian, a Jewish historian. He says this, "As for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, who can fully understand or adequately explain them? The beginning and ending of Ezekiel, the third of the four, are involved in so great obscurity that like the commencement of Genesis, they are not studied by the Hebrews until they're 30 years old." That's from Jerome.
Here's one. This is from the Babylonian Talmud. The rabbis recorded the cautionary tale of a boy who picked up a copy of the book of Ezekiel while in his teacher's house. Upon opening, he apprehended the meaning of the extremely obscure and much debated term, "[foreign 00:02:17]" in 1:27. At this point, instantly fire came out from the Word and incinerated him." You can get the point.
But here's a guy named David Noel Freedman who I've referenced earlier. He wrote something in the book of Ezekiel, and he said this. I always like the guys who are trying to find clarity. The key to understand Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. In this way, Freedman writes, "The theme of the temple runs through the entire book and is the key to its unity. In a sentence, it is the story of the departure of the glory of God from the temple, and it's return."
It sounds like the Hobbit. So here and back again. What makes Israel distinct from all the other nations in the whole world is God's presence. In Deuteronomy 32, I've mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again, when the Lord created all the nations, like the 70 nations at the Tower of Babel thing, He assigned Elohim or angels to them, divine beings, to supervise them.
Of all those 70, He chose Israel to be their own supervisor. He said, "Israel take to myself." It was His special nation, His bride nation, okay? What set Israel apart from everyone else was that very fact. In all of history, God in His divine presence, the theophany, the smoke, and the fire, and the clouds, only physically manifest themselves with that one nation in time with the beginning of the tabernacle in about 1446, when it got into what the tabernacle in Exodus 40, and again in 1 Kings 8 at the dedication of the temple.
His actual physical presence was with His people. That's what made them distinct. That's why the high priest could only go into that Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement. In this book, Ezekiel, we're going to see the most tragic thing happening. The Lord is going to leave His people and the glory is going to depart from the temple. It never, ever, ever returns until Jesus walks in to the temple. He says, "I'm back." Then He cleanses the temple.
II. Date and Historical Background (04:37):
Yes, some of this material is tough, but the prophetic message is basically clear enough. Let's look at the date and the historical background for this book. We can see here in our prophetic chronology that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are arranged in roughly chronological order. Ezekiel's ministry is going to be from 593 to 571. So it's going to go until after the exile. 586 is the exile. Then, he is going to go to Babylon. His ministry starts when he turns 30 at the River of Babylon.
Ezekiel 1:1-3 says this, "In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day," so he's very specific, "While I was among the exiles by the Chebar river, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." Remember in 2 Kings 6 when the heavens get opened? It gets peeled back with Elisha. That's what it's like. "On the fifth month, it was the fifth year of the exile of Jehoiachin. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi by the Chebar river in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him."
The fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile was 593. That's why that number's up there. It corresponds to the opening number 30, but they don't know the thirtieth of what. That's one of the tricks or one of the things. There is three options, and it's not very important to know. But I'll give you those in case people are for asking you, "30 years from what?" One, from some kind of specific event. Like in Amos, they mention an earthquake, 30 years from the big earthquake.
We do this in Mississippi, 30 years from Katrina. Everyone knows that date. That's one of the ways to think about it, like that, or the San Francisco earthquake back in the 1800s. That's one option. But we don't know which one. I mean, we don't know which earthquake. We don't have the earthquake seismic graphs from back then.
Option two is the 30th year of the reign of a specific king like Nabopolassar of Babylon. But we can't exactly triangulate that as well. Probably the best option, and I mentioned it earlier, is the thirtieth year of Ezekiel’s life. That would have been important because he was a priest. When you turn 30, you serve as a priest. In the mosaic economy, for everyone else, you had to retire at death. If you were a prophet, you just died or if you were a king, you retired at death. There was none of this like 65 and you're out kind of thing.
There was only a retirement plan for one group of people. The priests. They worked from 30 to 50. They worked three months every year at the Tabernacle. Then they had the other nine months to farm and take care of their families. That's how it worked. One of the reasons why I think that they had to retire at 50, it was hard to slaughter those bulls the older you got. It was a young man's job.
A. Levites were Warrior Butchers (07:27):
They were warrior butchers. That's what the Levites were. Remember how the Levites became Levites. They were the ones, at the golden calf, who took up arms and slaughtered their brothers and sisters because the Lord's name had been profaned. They were people pleasers. So, they became the warriors, guardians of the temple, like the cherub that God posted at the entrance to the Eden. That's what they were, they were warrior butchers.
We often think of them as like weenies. They couldn't really do manual labor, get a real job. So, "Be a Levite." Something like that. That's not how it works. Ezekiel the priest was carried off to Babylon in exile at the age of 25 in the second deportation in 597 BC. He was called to be God's prophet and declared the end of the old temple order and the beginning of a more glorious temple order. This is important to know, even though Jerusalem fell in 586 BC.
B. Prior Deportations (08:26):
There were two prior deportations. In the ancient world, it wasn't just, "Come wage war," and you're done. It took years of laying siege, and it took years of ruining crops. The first deportation was in 605 BC. You think about that, that's almost 20 years earlier. That's when Daniel went to Babylon. Then there's the second deportation in 597. That's when Ezekiel went to Babylon. Now there's the third deportation as well in 586, and that's where Jeremiah goes to Egypt. If you're wanting to triangulate where all these prophets are heading and serving, that's what's going on there.
His prophetic ministry range from 593 to 571 BC in what's called Tel Abib. Tel Abib, located near the Chebar River or the Chebar River in Babylon. He was married, lived in a house. He lived among the Judean exiles. The year of his calling was a significant age, 30. Ezekiel was not only a priest, but he was also a prophet now because of the way in which he has been called, and a watchman over the people of God.
C. Ezekiel: Son of Man (09:25):
He's got priest, prophet, watchmen. He's a guardian of the people of God, which is cool because that's what a priest does for the temple. He's the guardian. But now they're out of that so he becomes the guardian of God's people. Ezekiel is called, interestingly, the son of man 93 times in this book. It's a major thing. It's the most common designation for this prophet. It is usually thought of to be a mark of human weakness or humility. It could also be the translated like mere human.
More like that, as some people think it is. What does the son of man mean? You're mere human. More likely it's a reference to his humanity as a member of the divine council, when he appeared in the divine council because he was a human son of man. A lot of people just take this and think like, "Oh, he was humble". It's not at all what it means. He was in the divine council. He was rubbing shoulders with the angelic beings. But he knew his difference.
You'll remember in Genesis 6:1-4, the sons of God were sleeping with the daughters of men. The sons of God, probably angelic beings, but we can argue about that later, daughters of men. So this is the son of man, that's the other one, which means human. He's a human in the divine council. There's the Bene Elohim, those are the divine beings, and there's the Bene ha'adam, the son of man. So the son of God, the son of man, the ones who live in the upper register, the invisible realm, and the ones who live in this register, this realm. He was invited into that council.
D. Timestamped Visions (10:50):
One of the things that's interesting about Ezekiel is that his prophecy includes prophetic Oracles, parables, sign acts, and apocalyptic visions. We'll talk about those. There's also something very interesting in Ezekiel, is that a lot of his prophecies are timestamped. That's how some of these sections are divided. They'll say like, "In the fifth year, in the sixth year, in the seventh year, in the ninth year, in the tenth year, in eleventh year and twenty-seventh year." So you can track where these prophecies are happening, where he is.
If you have your Ezekiel notes out when you're reading the book, you can see where they are historically. Is he in Jerusalem? Is he in Babylon? That kind of thing. Is he talking about that? He even gets to go back to Jerusalem a couple of times while in exile, via the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord whisked him back in a vision a couple of times to talk about the city there. So he sees it.
III. Outline (11:43):
Here is the major outline of the book of Ezekiel. That's all I have to know. There's four big parts. I try to provide outlines that are just small enough to give you the big picture so you know where you are. I'm going to show you a more detailed outline because he’s going to impart to us some knowledge about his message. The first one, one through three, is described as Ezekiel's call and commission, where he sees the fiery chariot with burning wheels and the angels. That is a description of the Lord's throne room in heaven.
He's called into it and it's almost like he doesn't understand what he's seeing, because he's been invited into a realm that's completely unknown to him. It takes some time to get oriented. Next you have Oracles of judgment in four to 24, and this is the prosecution of the lawsuit against God's people. Remember how we had that? So it's the same thing we had in Jeremiah. You have to call, the prosecution of the lawsuit, so Oracles against them.
These are both regular Oracles and a bunch of sign acts where he's told to do something. Like sign actor, he'll dig a hole in the wall and go through it, like he's trying to escape from exile. Then he has to come back. Then he'll dig a hole in the wall every day. So he's trying to say, "People, people, we're going into exile," and his house has a lot of holes in it. That's what's happening there. In the next section, we Oracles against foreign nations in 25 to 32.
That sounds familiar. There's a chunk in Isaiah. There's a chunk in Jeremiah. There's a chunk in Ezekiel. There's going to be a chunk in the minor prophets. Then, as always, Oracles of good news, the reversal of the lawsuit. Here's how it works. Ezekiel's called, doom and gloom for God's people, doom and gloom for the nations' reversal.
Now you remember, if you've been here before, or if you've watched the videos earlier, this is the plan always from Deuteronomy 32. They execute the lawsuit. They say, "Here's God. He's innocent. He's cared for His people. Here's Israel. They were stiff necked, stubborn, and never obeyed. Therefore, covenant curses must be enacted because they're unfaithful. But there's hope. I'll restore the fortunes of my people."
At the very end of Deuteronomy 32, "I'll atone for my people and my land." That helps you to understand and not be confused by how the prophet seemed to be like schizophrenic. Are they bringing judgment or hope, judgment or hope? The answer is yes. They're bringing judgment and hope. That's so important because, for me, I mean, the prophets were the hardest things for me to figure out when I was trying to get my mind around the Bible in the Old Testament. I understood the narratives, I understood the poetic political stuff like Psalms, which is like a big systematic theology and song.
But the prophets, I really didn't know what was going on. Covenant lawyers. Their briefs are not, like we would think, of very dry, stale language. It's the sermon. It's the call of a husband longing for his wife to come back. That's what it's like. They appear like more sermonic to us, an appeal. If my wife wanted to leave me, I wouldn't issue legal documents saying, "Here are 13 reasons you shouldn't." I will plead with her to stay kind of thing. So you have to think about it that way.
A. Theological Arrangement (15:07):
Now I'm going to show you this more detailed outline. But don't be overwhelmed, because there's so much interesting content in it. I just want to show you some of the things, because one of the things we're going to learn about Ezekiel is, of all the prophets in the writing prophets, Isaiah to Malachi, he is obsessed with newness, or the Lord is obsessed with newness through him. We begin with his call, the vision of the divine throne chariot, Ezekiel's call, and then the commission.
Now what's interesting is the divine throne chariot is a great thing. The reason there's a divine throne chariot there is because the glory is about to depart. The Lord is in His chariot about to depart. It's not just like, "I'm showing you I've got this cool chariot. I've got my new Tesla car and we're going to look really great." No, this means the Lord is mounting the chariot, getting ready to leave, because when Isaiah sees Him, He's on a throne high and lifted up.
He's in His throne room. He's not in His chariot. The chariot, it's a portable throne, if you will. That's what that's working. Then you have the Oracles of judgment where you have all of these different sign acts, a besieged rock like Jerusalem is, a proned prophet, a siege diet, shaved head. So he's starting to look like an exile. Then there's the judgment against the mountains and the end is near. Then there's that vision of the temple.
Then we can see it highlighted in red there. That's the key part right here. It's the climax. In chapter 10:1-22, he has a vision of the glory departing from Israel. The glory departing from Israel. The departure of the throne chariot from the temple that he saw in the first chapter, it just left. You can see it riding out in the thing. That's the reason Nebuchadnezzar is able to take the city at that point. The presence of God is gone.
Then you have all kinds of Oracles of judgment, part two, after the glory departs, because what these do is once the chariot departs, repentance is impossible. That means that the deal is closed. Then, there are all these Oracles of judgment, preparing for exile, prophecy will not be delayed, false prophecy not tolerated, idolatry condemned, divine judgment assertion, parable the worthless vine, parable of the unfaithful wife. That's what's going on there.
I'll make sure that this is included in the pack so people can look at it. Then, you have the song of the sword, which is a cool one. I wish we could do all of these, two adulterous sisters. Everyone's favorite, cooking pot parable. Finally, the end is near, the death of Ezekiel's wife, which is a sign act. He's married to this woman, and it says, "Tonight your wife's going to die and you can't mourn her. You can't cry for her. You can't lament for her. You can't do any of that. You've just got to get to work tomorrow". In their culture, they had a very strict mourning culture, mourning rights, funeral rights, and grieving.
The same thing happened. She died. He went back to work. It's a sign act of what's happened now, that the Lord considers His bride dead. Then you've got Oracles against foreign nations, and then you've got the old turning point. Now here's what I want to focus on, the reversal of it all. You've got this introductory matter where you've got the prophet's commission and call to repent. News of Jerusalem's fall and challenge to the people, the land of exile.
Now they're in exile and look what he starts preaching about, a new shepherd, a new land, a new covenant, a new people, a new unity. Then, wham, he starts emphasizing the new temple. All that's going to be possible there. One of the things that's great about this is that in the midst of the world that we live in, where you have despair, where the world's going, it's okay. We've got these Oracles of salvation right here, Oracles of restoration, that this world is not our hope.
It's this world that's our hope, right here, where we have a new shepherd, one that doesn't abuse us or use us, but one who really cares for us. A new land, not one that's under a curse, but one that is flourishing. A new covenant, one that we cannot break. A new people, a people that are united, not divided. We have a new unity. That occurs with the rise and fall of Gog and instruction of Gog, which of course is picked up in Daniel and in the apocalypse, Gog and Magog right. Those are some of these apocalyptic visions that we get.
Then we get the new temple. Look, you can see 40 to 48 is the new temple. It's an elaborate description there. All of this new temple language right here is built off the tabernacle first temple and has correspondences with the temple of revelation 21 and 22. That's why they're always measuring this stuff because they want you to know. They want you to see the correspondence. If you see when the tabernacle is built, the instructions are very specific. When the temple is built, the instructions are very specific.
B. Three Visions (20:01):
The instructions are, for Moses, remember, "Make sure you build this tabernacle after the one you see in heaven." What's the one he sees in heaven? This one. All right. That's what we're being given a shot to look at. Mark Dever says in one of his works on this, "There are three basic sequences of visions that God gives Ezekiel. And if you understand those three visions, you'll know the whole book." I'll add one extra vision. The first vision is Ezekiel's call, meaning what Dever's saying is that his three visions, if you work to understand those, explain all the rest of the content. It's not so wackadoodle as some people think at the beginning.
All right. The first vision is Ezekiel's call, in one to three. The second vision is the glory departing from the temple in eight to 11. The third vision is the return of the glory to the temple in 40 to 48. Vision two, the glory departs. Vision three, the glory returns. I'm going to add a fourth vision. It's actually in my list, the third one, but you can make it the fourth. It's Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones. It's an important vision because, when the glory departs, we bite the dust. The glory is going to return. But how are we going to get there? It's on the resurrection train.
That's the testimony of Abraham. It's the testimony of Job. It's the testimony of Daniel. That's our hope, and we'll see that when we get to Daniel. We'll spend a little bit of time there tomorrow. In chapter 36, you have all of this new covenant language. Then chapter 37, the vision of dry bones, which means how are you going to enter into the new covenant?
In chapter 36, Ezekiel describes the return from exile in terms of four different covenants. He's going to talk about the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, the Davidic, and the new covenants. As such, in its return, we will come to the culmination of the various administrations of the covenant of grace that we mentioned in our introductory lectures. Here's the thing, how it works, guys. Back in Genesis 3:15, God instituted this promise that one day He will send someone to crush the head of the serpent. That's called the covenant of grace.
Then it runs all the way down to the new covenant, when Jesus crushes the head of the serpent. But during that time, there's going to be the Noahic covenant. There's going to be the Abrahamic covenant. There's going to be the Mosaic covenant. There's going to be the Davidic covenant. One of the tricks to these guys that you understand here is that when they're talking about the covenant, you have to make sure you know which one they're talking about.
These are all administrations of one covenant, a covenant of grace. But that covenant of grace takes place over time, progressive fulfillment of it. First Noah, then Abraham, then Moses and David, and then new. Let me just give you a little bit of hinting at how to parse those verbs in a context like this when Ezekiel's talking about all of these things being wrapped together.
When you have them talking about people will live in the land that Yahweh gave to their forefathers, that's Abrahamic language. When you become a multitude that's Abrahamic language. When people become a blessing, that's Abrahamic language. When they're able to follow the decrees and laws, that's the Mosaic one, so keeping the rules, having a circumcised heart, following the law, that's Mosaic.
When there will be a king over them and have one shepherd, the shepherd language, that's David, the Davidic covenant. Then, when you talk about the new stuff, like they have new hearts, new spirit, blessings of an eternal covenant of peace in 36, that's the new one, four. So some covenants are in the past, some covenants are still at work, and then some covenants are in the future. That's what scholars do, people study the Bible for a living. They argue like, "Which one is this? Which one is that?" Then they're trying to figure that out.
If you know land, descendants, and blessing, it’s Abraham. If it’s about keeping the rules, it’s Moses. If it’s about having a shepherd, it’s David. Then, having it be unbreakable and getting new stuff in you, that's the new covenant. All right. I think that helps. It's one of the things that's helped me the most here, is you can see here in Ezekiel 37, right after the valley of dry bones, "I'll make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them." That's the new covenant. "I will set them in their land and multiply them." That's Abrahamic.
IV. Major Themes (24:29):
"I'll set my sanctuary in their midst," mosaic. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I'll be their God and they shall be my people." You can see they're using two different covenants to talk about this, and that's how it works. A couple of major themes or topics that appear in the book of Ezekiel that are worth knowing about. I should have numbered these, it makes it a lot easier. But I have one, two, three, four, five. That's how we'll end. One of the big themes, now that we know how it's going.
A. Glory of Yahweh (24:55):
One theme is here, and it's probably the major theme in the book, is the glory of Yahweh. We see that in the theophany, in the opening vision of his call. Theophany means the physical manifestation appearance of God. We see that in the departure of God's glory from the temple. This is a negative aspect of the glory of God, but still a theme that runs through it. It's worth reading. "Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me, and I told the exiles all the things the Lord had shown me."
Ezekiel rode on the chariot with God to Babylon. That's pretty cool. That's better than first class. Palmer Robertson says, "The departing and returning glory may thus serve as the summarizing theme for the message of the book." But that's good, departure from the old temple, that one never really could work fully. Going to the new temple, that's the one that works. That's what we see here. Then they're measuring it.
The return of Yahweh's glory to the renewed super temple in 40 to 48, the closing verse of the book is this, “There circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be Yahweh is there, the return to Eden with His people, Yahweh Sham”. It's a great text right there. Yahweh's there. Remember, in Eden, Yahweh was there. Then they got kicked out. The whole history of the world is trying to get back in Eden. How will God do that? God does it here. So, it gives us that hope.
It's also funny that they're measuring everything, if you think about that. They measure the ark. They measure the Tabernacle. They measure the temple. Remember, in Revelation 21 and 22, the angel shows up with John and says, "Let's measure this thing." That's how you can know what's going on. All of those things connect that way. It's not just like, "Who cares how big it is. I just want to go." But it's showing you that that's the house that God's been building, "In my Father's house, there are many rooms."
You're going to live in a temple complex. Or you could put it this way. Let's say you're the son of a king. Where do you live? In the palace. In Hebrew, the same word for palace is the same word for temple. It just depends who lives there. So if you're a god, you live in a temple. If you're a king, you live in a palace. But it's the same word. What God is telling you here is that, "I'm the king. This is my house, and you're going to live in it," because we're going to be adopted. That's why it's so great, when we think it might be so boring.
B. You Will Know That I am Yahweh (27:33):
That's the first one, the glory of Yahweh. The second one, "You will know that I am Yahweh." This acknowledgement formula appears 70 times in the book of Ezekiel. By way of comparison, Isaiah uses it seven times, Jeremiah, twice. It appears in Exodus 11 times, in Leviticus, 10. So you could see it's all over the place. Here it's super exploded.
The knowing of Yahweh is the basis for covenant renewal in the book of Ezekiel. Knowing in the Old Testament is more than mental familiarity. You've got to know this. "You will know that I am Yahweh." What does that mean? You can think, "Well, you will know that I am the one true God." But no. In the Old Testament, knowing is to be in the covenant, forgetting is to forsake the covenant.
So in the book of Judges, when God says, "You have done evil," the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God. It didn't mean they forgot Him in their mind. They knew His name Yahweh, and they knew who He was, but they had forsaken Him. In this way, for example, think about knowing in this context, in Genesis 4:1, "And Adam knew his wife, Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, 'I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord."
Did Adam say, "Eve," and then got pregnant? No. It was a covenantal act. Think of it this way with Amos 3:2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth. Therefore, I will punish you for all of your sins," the Lord's saying. When He's saying, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth," it means with you only have I entered into covenant. So when you say, "Then you will know that I am Yahweh," that knowing is then, you will be firmly grafted into the covenant and you won't be able to forsake Him anymore. So it's much more significant than how we just normally render it.
C. Creation, De-Creation, and Re-Creation (29:15):
Okay. There's also creation, de-creation, and re-creation. I'm going to skip all those notes because that's a pattern we see all the time, creation, de-creation, re-creation, which is judgment, destruction, and the newness. He created Israel, destroyed Israel, He's going to resurrect Israel. Just like the flood. He created the world, destroyed the world, brought a new world. Next one, newness. One of the main themes in the book of his Ezekiel, we've already touched on it, is newness, new shepherd, new land, new covenant, new people, new unity, new temple.
D. Newness (29:51):
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah focused on the restoration of God's people through, for example, the new Zion and a new servant, okay, new king. For Isaiah and for Jeremiah, a new covenant. But here in Ezekiel, we've got newness like nowhere else. Another theme is crazy apocalyptic visions. What are apocalyptic visions? You know Daniel has them. It's when you see animals that are not of this world, with extra horns and horns popping out of horns, and having the body of a lion, but the wings of a bird, and the head of a goat. So it's mix and match.
E. Crazy Apocalyptic Visions (30:23):
What is apocalyptic literature? Apocalyptic literature describes and records strange other worldly visions and experiences. The word apocalypse is of Greek origin. The book of Revelation is called Apocalypse, just that which has been revealed.
Then, here's the official duty. Here's the official SBL study group definition. Ready? "A genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework," which means it's weird visions in the midst of a narrative, okay, "in which the revelation is mediated by another worldly being," like an angel," to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality, which is both temporal in so far as it envisions eschatological salvation, and spatial in so far as it involves another supernatural world."
That took them like 15 years to develop that thing. It really did. But what's the function of apocalyptic literature? And here it is. "It's intended for a group in crisis with the purpose of exhortation and/or consolation by means of divine authority. Okay. I call it ancient Near Eastern comfort food. When you are despairing of the world around you, when you think God doesn't know what's going on, He breaks in with these massive visions of His power and authority and saying, "I know exactly what's going on. Whether you see things going wrong out here right now, the forces are gathering to solve the problem."
We don't know much about that invisible realm. So, when we see those visions, we're taken back by them. They're supposed to be that way. When you see something scary, you never forget it. They're supposed to provoke this "Holy cow" kind of thing. And then you sit and figure it out. And so, they are hard to figure out sometimes. But here's what they all mean, it's going to work out in the end and God's going to win.
V. Conclusion and Further Questions (32:18):
Whether or not, which nation is what, and whose Russia and all that kind of business, those things from the early 20th century or late 20th century. It also helps to provoke perseverance and suffering. In the midst of suffering, you hold onto these visions and you're able to endure. That's what it is. I think that's it for Ezekiel, that we're going to do. Are there any questions about Ezekiel? Oh yes. Dr. Mounce.
I just wanted you to go back to the vision of the valley of dry bones, and why are they dry? What's their connection with the previous chapter and the New Covenant and Spirit?
Watch this. Do you guys know about the valley of the dry bones? It's at Ezekiel 37:1-14. I'm going to read you the opening part of it. I'm in verse... Well, "The hand of the Lord was upon me and brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and sent me in the middle of a valley. It was full of bones. And He led me around among them and behold, there were very many bones on the surface of the valley. And behold, they were dry."
That means dead bodies. Think of Elisha in the grave. "And son of man, can these bones live?" That's the question. He answered, "Oh Lord, God. You know," because I'm waiting for the answer myself. "Then he said, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, "Oh, dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you.'" So think back to Genesis chapter two, "And you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you and cause flesh to come upon you and cover you with the skin and put breath in you and you will live. And you will know that I am Yahweh."
There it is. "I was commanded and I prophesied. There was a sound, and behold, a rattling. And the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked and behold there were sinews on them, and flesh came on them, and skin covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord, God. Come from the four winds, oh breath, and breathe on these slain that they may live.' So I prophesied and He commanded me and breath came into them and they lived and stood on their feet an exceedingly great army."
Then it goes on for more of that. Then it actually talks about covenant promises where it says, "I will be their God and they shall be my people. That leads into the new covenant of 37. Resurrection is the path to experiencing the new covenant forever, because right now, in our own particular life, we're experiencing the new covenant, but soon we're going to die. But we're going to be resurrected and we'll have these new bodies. Is that the connection you're asking about? We're going to have that particular reality.
That's a huge principle of comfort in the midst of a suffering world, and even in midst of death, is that this world is not the end. This world is not our home. The way in which we will fully realize new covenant blessings is in our resurrection bodies. We could not realize the fullness of the new covenant in these bodies because they're bodies of sin. When the outer man is wasting away day by day, but the inner man is being renewed. We need resurrection power to receive the promises.
You need the Spirit to be resurrected. Even you can think of Ephesians. It's the Spirit that resurrects us from the death of our being dead in our trespasses and sins. The Spirit enters us and invigorates us. If you're in Adam, you're dead, you're like these bones. The Spirit enters into you and enlivens you and you become a new creation. So in some sense, you've experienced the dry bones experience in the already, but just not yet part coming bigger deal. Thanks. Great question. Any other questions?
I really appreciated what you were saying about the covenants and the keywords. Would you mind just rattling through real quick what those keywords were that were pointing to each of those?
Okay, sure. I'm going to give you a crash course in covenant theology, which is great. It's probably one of the most important things you can think about because it's what undergirds the whole Bible. Before the creation of the world, the Father and the Son enter into a covenant together. You have these statements in the New Testament before the foundations of the world and the lamb's book of life. That's called a covenant of redemption.
This is where time starts. This is where the Father and the Son and the Holy spirit are hanging out. Nothing's wrong yet. Okay? When God makes the world, creation, He enters into a covenant with Adam. He's got to rule, subdue, and fill. He's got to not eat from the tree of life. Or not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he rules, subdues, and fills, and he doesn't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he'll have access to the tree of life, which means glory.
It's going to take a long time. Does Adam do it? No. This first creation, the covenant coming out of creation is the covenant of works. Adam is our federal head. If Adam obeys, we would have all gotten the benefits as well. Adam didn't know obey. This covenant got broken by Adam, but it's still in effect. Everyone who's born in this world is born in Adam. And then, if you're a regenerated, you could become in Christ, Romans 5. Okay.
When this was broken, in chapter three of Genesis, God instituted in Genesis 3:14-19, some cursing. He curses the serpent and he curses the ground. Now God could have wiped everything out right here, because He said, "On the day you eat from it, you will surely die." But He instituted a period of delay. Instead of judging right now, He's going to delay that judgment. So He begins by instituting a common grace. Like He doesn't wipe out the serpent, but He curses him and said, "Now you're going to crawl on your belly."
He doesn't wipe out the woman, but He says, "Now you're going to have pain in childbirth." But through that childbirth, the serpent's going to get killed. Then the man, He says, "I'm not going to judge you now, but now your work is going to be futile." In this covenant, so the wheat and the chaff, the sheep and the goats live together. At the same time, He institutes something called the covenant of grace.
I didn't make up these titles. I would have done something different. I wouldn't have common grace and covenant of grace. They sound too much alike. This is a non-redemptive covenant. It just means everyone's going to get along until the Lord comes and judges how He wants. This is how He's going to save the people, His own people, the covenant of grace. So, it starts here and runs all the way to the end.
Now, both covenants have works in them. In this covenant, Adam has to work, but doesn't. This covenant, Jesus has to work. We get the benefits. That's why we call it the covenant of grace. Someone else has to work on our behalf. It’s because we're in Adam, we're born in sin and we have the inability to please God or keep His law. So we need another Adam. So, another Adam comes in the covenant of grace. It's going to take a long time, God wants to get all of us in the covenant.
He didn't stop at Noah. He didn't stop at Abraham. He didn't stop at Moses or David. He wants all of us to. He wants everyone. He wants Bill, He wants Terry, all that kind of stuff. And so, they're going to be different administrations of the covenant of grace throughout here. They begin with Noah. In Genesis 6 and through 9, God is about to destroy the world. He says, "Wait, I can't destroy the whole world because then that seed can't come."
So in Genesis 6:18, He makes a covenant with Noah and says, "Hey, if you build this ark and fill it up, I'll save you and your family, because you're a righteous dude." Not totally righteous, but he found favor. It says he was blameless and upright and he found favor in God's eyes. This is the first time the word covenant's used here in the Bible. There's two Noah covenants. There's Noah one and two. There's that one in 6:18 that says, "I'm going to save the seed."
Then, the way He saves the seed is through that judgment. That judgment is a suspension of this right here. When He judges the world, He suspends common grace, and the ark becomes a theocracy like Israel, where now they can't eat clean or unclean food. Unclean food and stuff like that becomes a little Israel. Once Noah's saved, He said, "Now the seed's going to come through Noah and then through Shem." And that shows up in Abraham.
Abraham is the next administration. So we say like, "Who's going to be the new seed now that all the seed has been wiped out." First it's Noah, and of Noah's offspring through Shem, Abraham. This gets fulfilled in two stages. There's going to be the old covenant stage under Moses and the new covenant stage under Jesus. In the midst of this old covenant administration, we also get added to it the David seed, promise, that the king of the kingdom that's coming will be of the line of David.
Once the new covenant arrives, historically after but theologically parallel, the old covenant order's over because the shadow has given way to the substance. Now that will be in some of the earlier lectures, but that's the five-minute easy answer. It's important to know this because otherwise you don't know how all the Bible works. You don't know how the old covenant fell into the new covenant. Then you don't know what there is in terms of those things that have continuity and what things exist by way of contrast.
That's why we don't require circumcision anymore, but we require baptism. That's why we don't execute the people's land we want to take, we buy it. As regular people, we don't... Once I was in a church and they had a property campaign, because they wanted to buy property. I don't mind saying, but it's Saddleback Church in California. The theme was Possess Your Land, from the book of Joshua. But I wanted to say, "If that's the case, let's get some swords and go get it." That's how they did. They didn't pray about it, they just took it.
We can't do that anymore. We have to actually pray about it, buy it, that kind of stuff. And so, that's why you get at times people messed up like, "Well, I'm going to eat the diet that Daniel ate because it made him so sleek,". It doesn't work that way. That's old covenant stuff.