Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ezekiel (not the bread)

Could somebody please do a study on the book of Ezekiel?

I've been reading it again, and I've always been kind of fascinated by the weird symbolism in the book--not just the wheels and dry bones and things, but even the messages to dead kings. Adventists have had their "favorite" prophecy books, namely Daniel and Revelation, but from what I've heard (and I've heard a lot of prophecy sermons), books like Ezekiel and Zechariah have been relatively ignored. But it seems to me that there might just be a lot that we can learn about the Great Controversy from those books. Here are a couple of reasons why I think so.

First of all, we are all pretty familiar with Ezekiel 28 as a symbolic description of Satan's pride and fall. But chapter 38 and 39 are also striking prophecies, dealing with Gog and Magog, and as anyone familiar with Revelation knows, those names are also there in chapter 20, talking about Satan's last attempt to overthrow the God and the Holy City and his final destruction. But whereas Rev. 20 only has four verses about this last battle, the scenario is covered in detail over those two chapters in Ezekiel, ending with a beautiful description of the restoration of God's people to Him and the glorification of God and His judgment (from verse 21 of chapter 39). I'm sure we can learn a lot about the end of the Great Controversy from these chapters.

Going along with that, there are quite a few other messages regarding various kings and kingdoms between chapters 25-32 (Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Egypt etc.) Many of these kingdoms are named in prophecy as important symbols of last-day events (Moab and Ammon in Dan. 11:41, Egypt in Rev. 11:8). And being that these messages are sandwiched between what we know are symbolic passages (the sisters and the cooking pot in ch. 23 and 24, and of course Tyre in ch. 28), I wonder if there is more interesting prophetic symbolism to be found in the messages to these other kings.

Most importantly perhaps, is the deal with the temple described from chapters 40 on. Maybe I'm missing something, but I have not yet heard very many good ideas on what this temple is, or when it's supposed to have been constructed. The problem is, Christians who believe in the pre-Advent millennium have it all figured out. If you do a search on "Ezekiel's temple," you will get all sorts of pages about the Messiah returning at the start of an earthly Millennium and establishing this temple and reigning over a peaceful neo-Jewish kingdom on the peaceful (yet not completely purified) earth--that's about it. This worries me, because it sounds like an excellent setup for the deceptions Satan will bring to the earth in the last days ("...false christs...will rise and show great wonders to deceive..." "all the earth will wonder after the beast..."). But if the pre-Advent Millennium Christians have it all figured out and we don't have a good explanation for what this temple is, how are we going to discuss this with our Evangelical friends?

I've been an Adventist all my life, and have probably read and heard a majority of what can be said about prophecy, and I've never heard a good explanation of the messages of Ezekiel, nor rarely heard it mentioned at all. And I know a lot of fabulous Bible scholars--could someone please do a study on this so we can start to unlock the wonders of this fascinating Old Testament prophet? (Next topic: Zechariah.)

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