“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month in the fourteenth year after Jerusalem had been captured, on that very day the Lord’s hand was on me, and He brought me there. In visions of God He took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. On its southern slope was a structure resembling a city. He brought me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. He was standing by the gate. He spoke to me: ‘Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see to the house of Israel.’” Ezekiel 40:1-4 (HCSB)
Prophecy can typically be analyzed in three stages: Immediate/present-day, Messianic era, and End Times. That is, a prophecy would generally be given for the (somewhat) immediate observation within the prophet’s generation (using the word “generation” in the greater sense). But that same prophecy might have Messianic implications, pointing to Jesus, as if to say, “Remember the last time these circumstances aligned themselves, and God judged sin & delivered His Remnant? That was a trial run for our greater deliverance through Messiah.” And, of course, a prophecy fulfilled in the prophet’s generation (as well as being more greatly fulfilled in the days of Jesus) may still be “unfulfilled” in relation to the Day of The Lord or the coming Kingdom.
At first glance, today’s chapter appears to be written as an “impressionist painting.” It is as if Ezekiel is conveying truths using abstract and exaggerated details. It can be compared to Debussy's music or Renoir's paintings. But simultaneously, he is communicating the concrete truth of God’s Word. For men to understand prophecy rightly, God’s truth must transcend the “impression” and be revealed as “concrete” by the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel understood what he saw because he was spiritually enabled to “see, hear, and pay attention.” He was commanded to communicate that truth to the House of Israel. This idea is nothing new to anyone who has closely read the parables of Jesus.
“He told them, ‘The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “They may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!”’” Mark 4:11-12 (NIV)
Isaiah was given a similar charge to preach God’s Word, but with the caveat that his audience would not believe.
“He said, ‘Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’” Isaiah 6:9 (NIV)
It is not that God only wants certain people to know the truth, yet others do not believe. Rather, He knows that men will not believe unless they earnestly seek truth in Him. (Matthew 7:7; John 6:44; Jeremiah 29:12-14) Keep seeking Him in His Word!
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