Week Thirty-Six Reading Assignment:
Ezekiel 4 - Ezekiel 26
This Week's Teaching Video: Ichabod
Good Book Review: Ultimate Loss
From the very first verse of Ezekiel’s book, we know something about the historical context of the prophet’s message. Ezekiel reports that he was “living with the Jewish exiles by the Chebar River in Babylonia” (1:1 TEV). The setting is Babylonia, and the audi-ence is a group of exiles. That spells defeat.
God’s people have been so over-whelmed by their enemies that Judah is occupied, Jerusalem’s kings have become either exiles or puppets, and many of the Jews have been captured and carted off to a foreign land far away. It sounds to us like God’s judgment has come.
We read on only to discover, however, that the first half of Ezekiel’s message is still a judgment message. Even though the people have been beaten, defeated, and exiled, there is more to come.
Ezekiel is in touch with a spiritual truth, you see, that goes beyond what lies at the surface of so much judgment pro-phecy. For the ultimate image of loss, it turns out, is not invading armies, ruined cities, dead soldiers, devastated crops, or besieged and starving people. The ultimate loss is the departure of the glory of the Lord.
Conversely, ultimate restoration is not found in either proud cities or bumper crops. And so the happy promise with which Ezekiel’s message concludes is the return of the glory of the Lord.
What to Watch for This Month
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explain-ed to two disciples “what was said about himself in… the writings of the prophets” (Luke 24:27 TEV). Watch for passages you think He may have pointed to on that Easter afternoon.
God’s word seldom meets with a unani-mous reaction. Different people respond differently (see, for example, the parable of the soils in Matthew 13). Watch for the different ways that people react to God’s word as proclaimed by the prophets you read this month.
We noted last month that Jeremiah shared the experience of God and of God’s people. Identify that same pattern in other prophets during this month’s reading.
We read and considered last month the call experiences of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Compare and contrast with them, now, the callings of Hosea, Amos, and Jonah.
Although judgment is often the prevailing theme, most prophets look to a time beyond the judgment. What are the characteristics of that time?
As you read each prophet, characterize what seem to be the prevailing sins and failures of the people at that time.
Throughout Scripture, God displays a variety of methods for communicating His word. Identify different methods He uses through the ministries of the prophets you read during this month.
Having read as many of the Old Testament prophets as you have by the end of this month, how would you define a prophet’s job description?
At the end of a day’s reading, it might be helpful to ask, “If I didn’t know anything about God except for what I read today, what would I know about Him?”