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Visionary in Exile

The Book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is the prophet of the exile, where his ministry begins. He is among the first wave of captives taken to Babylon before the actual destruction of the Temple. He is a strange prophet, known for his unusual and even bizarre visions. But in these visions is poetry with a jarring message.

The very first chapter, with its vision of the heavenly chariot, has been the subject of much speculation. Fire and lightning, frightening winged creatures, wheels within wheels - what does it all mean?

It is the construction of a magnificent and awesome chariot to bear the presence of God. The divine presence leaves the Temple, enters the chariot, and abandons Jerusalem. God’s former dwelling place remains lonely and desolate.

There are strong judgments in Ezekiel, but also words of comfort and redemption. The people have betrayed the Covenant and become like a faithless whore, but God will redeem them and reunite them, giving them a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone. In perhaps the most famous of Ezekiel’s visions the people are compared to dry, dead bones that revive after God breathes life into them once again.

The book concludes with an elaborate depiction of the Temple of the future. Its construction is described in meticulous detail. And when it is finished the chariot we saw at the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophecy, which took God’s presence away from the first Temple, comes to bring it back through the same gate by which it departed. The Covenant is restored.

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