Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 12, Ezekiel the Prophet

Ezekiel the Prophet
By Vanda Vasconcelos

EZEKIEL, meaning “strong is God,” was a priest, but more famously known as a Hebrew prophet, and also as the author of the Book of Ezekiel.  In this Book there are many prophecies, chief among them Ezekiel’s vision of the downfall of Jerusalem. He was chosen by God to be a messenger.  God sent Ezekiel many visions and he revealed these visions, using a lot of symbolism, to get God’s message out to the people of Israel. He stressed faith in God, everyone’s responsibility for their own actions, and also the importance of repenting for your sins if you are devoted to God.

Ezekiel was part of thousands of Israelites who were exiled from Jerusalem around 597 BC, when he was said to be about 25 years old.  He stayed in the city of Babylon, where he had a wife and was considered a leader among the exiled Jews.  He did his best to continue his priestly duties, though he was far from the temple of Jerusalem. Historically he was said to be a highly intelligent man.

At about the age of 30, Ezekiel says he was called by God to be one of his prophets, and gave vivid description of this calling from God, whom he said came to him on a chariot guided by four angels. From this point on, Ezekiel proclaimed many judgments and prophecies to the people of Israel on behalf of God, many specifically in relation to the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem. The reason for the destruction, Ezekiel told, was due to the various sins being committed there, such as worshipping false idols, and the failure to have faith in God and in God’s words. He also spoke to the exiled Jews about the importance of repenting to the Lord, if they ever wished to return to Jerusalem.

Early in his new role as God’s prophet, a role he fulfilled for at least 22 years, Ezekiel had to deal with a lot of doubters to his word, which proved difficult.  People seemed not to believe in his words from God unless it fit their purposes. He had to ask God for strength and help to get through a lot of these hard times. One of the hardest times had to be when his wife died. God instructed Ezekiel not to openly mourn his wife’s death, because he wanted the exiled Jews to learn from his example that they should be willing to lose what is dearest to them without grief. Ezekiel had to put his complete faith and trust in God in order to do this.  

His prophecies proved very true when Jerusalem did indeed get destroyed in 586 BC, when the Babylonians ransacked it. After this, the Israelites looked at Ezekiel as a leader more than ever. Ezekiel’s proclamations then turned to giving hope to the Israelites that, through repenting and devotion to God, that they would be redeemed, and that the city of Jerusalem would recover and thrive again.

Ezekiel knew that one day he would be before God for final judgment, and he wanted to show God total faith and devotion before that day.  He was chosen as a messenger for God and tried his best to have his people listen and show belief in his words from God.  Today I believe most people always have their guard up, and because of this are too afraid to be fooled by other people.  We should be more afraid to be fooled by ourselves.

We seem to only believe in what is best for us to believe, only in what we want to believe.  We want to explain the words of people like Ezekiel in a way that suits us the best.  We want the words of Ezekiel, or maybe the words of our Pastor’s homily, to fit around our lives and our wants.  It should be the opposite way around. We should listen to the words of our priests, and of our Bible, and of God, and want to fit our lives around those words. 

This is because, as Ezekiel told us, there will come a day when every one of us will face final judgment for everything that we have said and done.  Those people who have repented with all their heart, and those who have done all they could to obey God’s words, I believe will have a very good chance of being given eternal life through God. Those who have put false idols in front of God would face something like Jerusalem faced when it was destroyed, as Ezekiel said it would be.

We need to look at Ezekiel as an example of someone who did everything God asked him to do; literally everything, even if it caused him pain, like not showing grief for the death of his wife. I believe Ezekiel would tell us how hard that was for him to do, but because of his faith in God, he would never deny anything God asked.

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