Many times in the Old Testament we are given clear pictures of the wonder work of regeneration which God sovereignly accomplishes in all his blood-bought people B.C. and A.D! Ezekiel 36:24-33 is perhaps the most comprehensive where the prophet includes repentance (v31), the obedience of faith (v27),cleansing (vv25,33) and regeneration (vv26-27). And how are these blessings of spiritual baptism pictured? By immersion in deep water? No! By sprinkling of clean water (v25)! Just as Spirit baptism comes from above (John 3:3) and stands for the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (I Peter 1:2) so the correct mode of water baptism, signifying regeneration, for young and old, believer’s children (who are included in the covenant Gen.17:7) and professing adults is pouring or sprinkling!
We come to the end of this major prophet in the captivity, one who sent to a depressed exiled people, through his visions, would give them hope in an everlasting inheritance. The great objective promise of the Old Testament, namely inheritance of Canaan, is at last realised as their covenant God renews their souls and gives them each their allotted portion in glory.
We MUST remember that all is couched in Old Testament terms but the reality is the superior New Covenant and it’s ultimate fulfilment in the New Heavens and Earth. Never shall their be any more animal sacrifices, literal temple, literal inheritance in the land of Israel. Christ’s prayer in John 17:20-21 is answered, in that all his people are where he is and are one as he and the Father are one. Faith is engendered as we hear all the hostile powers that usurped God’s creation are dispossessed and driven out of the land i.e. the whole earth! It is ours to contend for this, the best of causes, with the surest prospect of success; for the Lord himself is upon our side and his word of promise must be established (Fairbairn). Romans 8:31-32, “ What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” We inherit all things (Romans 8:17) and every one of us has a place and inheritance in the new creation. As we end this brief look at this remarkable book, I hope, like me, you have grown in your understanding of this inspired prophecy and seen how it fits with God’s eternal purpose to unite all things in Christ in paradise the second.
The reality in detail (click to enlarge).
The book for which I am indebted..
Ezekiel 47: 1-13
Vision of the temple waters.
The Lord has come to his temple (Mal.3:1) which in reality he did in the flesh (Matthew 21:12) but more importantly into the midst of his church by his Spirit so that they have communion with him, enjoy all spiritual privileges and carry out their ministry. That the increase of this temple kingdom being built should be worldwide is alluded to often in the Old Testament and here it is envisioned as a growing stream, one absolutely unnatural in its progression, that restores life to all it touches. Listen to Fairbairn, “This stream of life, flowing from the dwelling-place of God, images the regenerating efficacy of his grace and word upon a dead world.” It is an ever-growing stream just like the tiny seed that grows into a mustard tree. It no doubt is the same stream John sees issuing from God’s throne in Revelation 22:1-2 and to my mind is a picture of the life-giving Spirit of God that Christ says shall overflow from every regenerate heart (John 7:38-39).
The new sanctuary was to be preserved holy by prince and priests. The prince, in contrast to most who were before him who desecrated God’s house, as God’s vicegerent was “to be the most distinguished representative of God’s holiness,—to tread the higher walks of spiritual communion and fellowship and stand pre-eminent in his zeal for the interests of truth and righteousness. All power given him should be exercised in a solemn feeling of subordination to God’s majesty, and with an unfeigned desire for his glory “(Fairbairn). This was of course what Christ did.
Previously the priesthood had acted like uncircumcised heathen but God would raise up a truly spiritual priesthood who outwardly (linen, polled hair and no wine) and inwardly would be pure in their ministrations of their public service, holiness to the Lord being the one pervading characteristic to be found in God’s house and the servants who belonged to it (Isaiah 61:6, 66:21, I Peter 2:9).
One thing the priests were to do was teach,”And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean (v23)”. This is the calling of pastors and elders in the church seeking to recover in God’s people what they lost in the fall namely the ability to choose good over evil.
Calvin in his comments on Haggai (appointed to urge the swift rebuilding of the temple), states that more than just rebuilding was required, ” works, however splendid they may appear before our eyes, are of no value or importance before God, except they flow from a pure heart.”
This chapter detailing the measurement of the outer court and much about the priests quarters is extremely difficult to follow. Fairbairn says their, ” incongruity must ever be regarded as an inseparable obstacle to their superficial literalism. It is an incontrovertible evidence that the prophet had something else in his eye than the masonry of stone and lime erections, and was labouring with conceptions which could only find their embodiment in the high realities of God’s everlasting kingdom.”
Furthermore, “its square form, and the square appearance of the entire buildings (as in John’s city, Rev.21:16), betoken the strength and solidity of the whole, along with a vast increase in extent and number. A perfect cube, it was the emblem of a kingdom that could not be shaken or removed. And thus every way it exhibited to the eye of faith the true ideal of that pure and glorious temple which, resting on the foundation of the eternal Son, and girt about by all the perfections of the Godhead, shall shine forth the best and noblest workmanship of Heaven.”
This chapter contains probably the most famous of Ezekiel’s visions-that of the dry bones. It even inspired a song…
The purpose of the vision was to counteract the people’s despondency at the state of their nation. God would by his omnipotence bring the dead to life and raise up a mighty army. This of course did not happen literally but again in the NT age and even retrospectively back to the dawn of history, the almighty Christ has resurrected his elect from their spiritual deadness and because he IS life and the author if it will also raise their mortal bodies at the last day (see John 5:25-29). As Fairbairn put it, “ He is the ever-living God, and life must be the property of all that are his. ”Remember also Christ’s poignant words to the Pharisees, “ I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) Preaching, used by God from the time of Enoch till the last day, is the means by which the Almighty brings life to the dead.
The second half of the chapter is about the prophet taking two rods representing the divided kingdom and joining them together to form one people under one head even David. That this is to be interpreted literally is manifestly wrong. God would dwell with this united kingdom under Christ for ever, fulfilled in the church and in the new heavens and earth (Rev.22:3).
The Judgment of Tyre
There was insular Tyre just off the coast and continental Tyre on land. The seat of commercial power was the island rock. Three chapters are devoted to her downfall-the first on her sin, the second a lamentation over her downfall and the third referring to the specific downfall of her king. This chapter details her sin that she saw the fall of Jerusalem as tending to her commercial advantage, second the instruments of her doom and third the effects it produced on other nations (c.f. Isaiah 23). Although there had been friendly relations between Israel and Tyre in the days of David and Solomon, later Jezebel, daughter of the king of Zidon and the idolatrous practices of these commercial city states were a grieving thorn to Israel (chapter 28:24). Nebuchadnezzar was the beginner of the work of judgment in a thirteen year siege, Alexander then conquered it in 332BC (see U tube ), the Crusaders in 1124 AD and finally the Turks in the 14th century. The coastal states that were planted and depended upon commerce with her were dismayed at her ruin. But there is a glimmer of hope in Isaiah 23:18 fulfilled in Gospel times (Acts 21:3-4).
The actual date of this divine revelation is made clear by the prophet in relation to the captivity of King Jehoiachin (ninth year, tenth day, tenth month. (c.f.II Kings 25:1 and Jer.39:1). What we must remember is that Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar launched a series of invasions over many years against Israel and Jerusalem, each time slaughtering and taking captives—this is the major siege in 585BC when Zedekiah rebelled. Jerusalem is the cooking pot that is full of choice meat but is going to be boiled dry. Much scum comes to the surface signifying their wickedness, it is this that God wants to consume. The blood of the victims of violence cries out, not from the ground like Abel’s but from the top of a rock, unashamedly exposed to God. The text also alludes to gross sexual sin (v13).
In the second half of the chapter Ezekiel’s wife dies suddenly and he is told not to mourn. The people ask what this signifies and he tells them that their treasured temple in Jerusalem will be plundered and their children slaughtered, but like him, they are not to mourn but rather muse deeply and inwardly about their perversity. At this point there is a break in Ezekiel’s revelation and preaching to his people.
The tale of Aholah and Aholibah, the two sisters representing Samaria and Jerusalem/Judea who instead of worshipping and relying upon God made alliances with the heathen nations for their protection and safety. Fairbairn states,” It was their crime to have sought such lovers, and it was to be their punishment that these lovers were to become their destroyers.” (check II Kings 15:19). How often today do we not see fornicating couples breaking up violently with the fawning female becoming the victim of her cruel former lover! Similarly, prostitutes are often violently abused and even killed by their clients! The message for both kingdoms was, “ your conduct toward God calls for judgment without mercy.”
As Fairbairn says, this chapter is straightforward to interpret listing many of the sins that the Israelites were guilty of and which caused them to be thrown into the fire of God’s anger in Babylon where he would separate the dross from the silver. The sins included idolatry, lust of the worst sort (even incest), treachery, oppression and bloodshed in stark contrast to what Moses had been commanded in Leviticus 28-30 where holiness and separation from the heathen was commanded. From dispersing them among the nations God would sift them, as he always does in judgment, and no one would any longer be able to repair the breach (not even Jeremiah who had been told he ought not to pray for them any more in Jer.11:14).