Ezekiel (26th Letter, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters)


I know the desire for You and the arrogance in me are both there, but I don’t feel my desire for You strongly enough to seek You above every other good thing. And, more often than not, I think it’s quite reasonable to assume that I should have the good things of life and to make it my priority to get them.

How did Jonathan Edwards put it? ‘Nothing puts a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.’ God, why don’t I see my desire for You and my tendency to settle for something else more clearly? I bring this up because after reading Ezekiel, I think you’re saying something in this letter that might improve my spiritual eyesight.

Only when you are so grieved by the raw evil of your ongoing self-obsession that My glory overwhelms you with desire to love like My Son will you deeply change. Only then will the incomparable beauty of His character become visible in the way you relate.

More than a decade before Nebuchadnezzar finally sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, ten thousand of My people, along with the young priest Ezekiel (then 20 years of age), were carried off into exile. They all expected to return to Jerusalem soon, never dreaming that I would allow the holy city to lie desolate.

After 5 years of captivity, I revealed myself to Ezekiel in the first of three visions, transforming him from priest into prophet. He saw my glory, a magnificence that exceeded Solomon’s as the heavens exceed a grain of sand. Ezekiel became more aware of My glory than of the depressing condition of exile. He was now fit to speak for Me to My people.

In the place I created for worship, I opened My young prophet’s eyes to see four things that I will now open your eyes to see, four abominations that cannot exist in the presence of My glory.

First, the idol of jealousy, your desire to feel loved, to enjoy good relationships, to be affirmed, to see yourself as worthy of respect and entitled to a pleasant life. These desires become your idol of jealousy when they rule your life.

Second, on the walls of the temple were engravings of reptiles, insects, wolves. The serpent of self-interest, the insect of self-obsession, the wolf of self protection sink their poison into your conversations with friends.

Third, women were mourning the deaths of Tammuz, the Babylonian god of fertility, the god who promised the good life of blessings. When you value anything above Me, you do not know that I AM the Lord, the source of the life you were created to enjoy.

Fourth, in the very center of the temple where communion with Me is available, the priests of My people turned their backs to Me and worshiped the sun, the reliable source of an immediate experience of warmth. It is that sort of spirituality that is still sought today. My people in exile exchanged true hope for false hope. You do the same thing every time you turn from Me to enjoy the smug satisfaction of superiority, every time you say in your heart, I am not like others, and my sense of being more together than another makes me feel good about myself.

Seventy times in this letter I explained that I do all that I do for one purpose: that My people will know that I AM the Lord.

My plan all along to create a new heart in My people, a heart that would value Me as their greatest good, no more idol of jealousy; that would desire to love as I love, no more slithering serpents of self-obsession; that would drink only from My well of living water; no more Tammuz wells that dry up; that would find deep joy and communion with Me, no more turning from Me toward opportunities for cheap, immediate, temporary satisfaction of lesser desires.

It was -and is- My plan to bring the dry bones of My selfish people to life, to create a community over which I could write the words that close this 26th letter: ‘The Lord is There’.

Book Name: Topic – From Ray Stedman<-(click here for entire Bible summary)

The book of Ezekiel traces the causes of the captivity of the nation Israel, and why it was in so much trouble. This is the story of the nation, but it is the story of any individual as well.

There were two prophets during the captivity – Ezekiel and Daniel. Ezekiel was older than Daniel and prophesied during the first twenty or twenty-five years of that seventy-year period when Israel was held captive by Babylon.

The glory of the prophet Ezekiel was that he saw God more clearly than any of the other prophets. If your heart needs to be set on fire
by the revelation of the character and glory of God, read Ezekiel. He is the great prophet who saw the glory of God.

We can’t interpret all of this, because there is a mystery about the person of God. But what Ezekiel sees is, generally speaking, the power and the majesty of God.

Then Ezekiel moves quickly into prophecies that have to do with the failure of man. And these are described at great length.

Then comes a lengthy passage where Ezekiel traces the degradation of man, the result of men’s rejection of God’s grace. And he tells how God struggles with those people, calling them; how he tries to win them, to waken them to the foolishness of turning their backs on the glory of God. At last they go through times of difficulty and heartache and punishment, as God seeks constantly to bring them to their senses, to waken them to what they are doing – to show them that man is made to fellowship with God and that without God he only goes farther and farther into weakness and folly and degradation.

In Chapters 38 and 39 the prophet sees into the far distant future to the last attack upon Israel, when enemies of the land will be met by heavenly forces that will judge them upon the mountains of Israel and bury them there.
Then, beginning in Chapter 40, the restoration of the millennial temple is foreseen. In this great vision the prophet is shown the temple in precise detail: the glory of God returning to the Holy of Holies, the Shekinah establishing itself in the Holy of Holies once more. The book closes with the wonderful passage in Chapter 47 that describes his
vision of the throne of God. Underneath the throne comes the river of God, sweeping through the temple, out into the eastern side, down across the land, and into the Dead Sea to heal its waters. It is a marvelous picture of the Spirit of God in the day of the millennial kingdom.

And he closes this beautiful book with a description of the temple (which, by the way, may ultimately picture the resurrection body which is the new temple for God). But look at the last verse of the prophecy. He says:
The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. [Vast, unlimited, a great city.] And the name of the city henceforth shall be, “The LORD is there.” {Ezek 48:35 RSV}
That is what Ezekiel called it. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch {cf, Acts 11:26}. They did not call themselves Christians. They were called Christians. Christian means “Christ-one” – one who belongs to Christ. And as the people in Antioch looked at these peculiar people, they called them “Christ-ones” because the Lord was there.

Ezekiel – David Jeremiah (Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible)

Key thought: God has a vision for our future, even when it appears we’ve been exiled in a land of failure.

Key Verse: I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:27

Key Action: We must speak God’s words to our generation, whether they hear or whether they refuse (see Ezekiel 2:7).