EZEKIEL 10:1 – 12:28 and REVELATION 1:1–20
Ezekiel has another glimpse of the 4 creatures that surround the throne of God. In this particular throne room scene, Ezekiel sees the Lord as the one who is seated upon the throne. The Lord then speaks to the man who was clothed in linen and gives instruction to take coals and scatter them over the city. This is the same man in linen that was seen in chapter 9 and it is clear that he has a measure of authority over Jerusalem. In verse 3, we have a possible precursor to what will be seen in the last days. There is the glory of the Lord that arises in the midst of the judgements that are about to be spread over the city. Isaiah spoke to this effect when he spoke of the Glory of the Lord arising in the midst of gross darkness that would cover the earth (Isa 60:1-2).
In chapter 9, there was a similar glory as the man with the inkhorn went forth to mark the foreheads of those who sighed and mourned over the sins of the land. It appears that this man is preparing to carry out the Lord’s decreed wrath of destruction upon the city. This provides us a glimpse as to what takes place around the heavenly throne. God gives the Word and there are those creatures who move in quick and perfect alignment with what He has declared to do. This is a picture of administration in its purest form.
The description of the living creatures and how they function is covered in verses 8-22. It is a very similar account to that which was seen in chapter 1. Once again, we can observe the resolute and focused attention that the cherubim’s would give to the Lord’s directives (vs 11). They never veered to the right or left as they went forth. These creatures were described as being full of eyes signifying their ability to be in tune and privy to all that was going on around them. There are the four faces that are given which characterize the personalities of the four gospel writers. It is also interesting to note the unity that exists within these cherubim. Though they are distinguished by four faces they are noted as one creature (vs 20). It can be likened to the Trinity which consists in three persons yet being one God. It is important to have such revelation into the administration of heaven since it helps us to better appreciate true delegated authority. It helps us to better understand administration and what is entailed in being under authority. Is it any wonder that there is such anarchy and lack of civility in today’s world? The world’s system gives such a perverted portrait in these areas which makes our understanding of the throne room of God and its functioning all the more vital to understand. There are many key lessons to draw from Ezekiel’s exposure to the throne room of God. He no doubt sees his role in a greater way as one of the called prophets to Israel.
Ezekiel continues to be shown things as he is caught up in the Spirit. He is now brought to the east gate of the Lord’s house and is shown 25 men of the princes of Israel who are essentially prophesying and teaching false doctrine. The word of the Lord had been clearly given by Jeremiah and others as to the judgements to come upon the city. These men spoke to the people that what was spoken by the prophets was not true and that there would be no such judgements upon the city. Their counsel deceived many which resulted in their building houses and trusting that the men and armies of the city could save them. This is the damage that can be done by false prophets and teachers. Do we fully appreciate the weight and influence our lives and our words carry as leaders? Each man is accountable for the decisions they make but the price is far heavier upon those who lead people astray by such teaching. Hananiah may have been the more popular prophet seeing that his message was more palatable than Jeremiah but it was only for a season; a very short season. Woe unto anyone who teaches or prophesies contrary to God’s desired will.
The sentence against these wicked 25 men is now given. The people they influenced would be slain in the city. They felt that the city would be their security but in the end it became the place of their judgement. The wicked princes who counselled in defiance to God’s Word would be slain outside the city by the sword of the Babylonians. It is another example of a people being overtaken by the very thing that they feared. This reminds me of a tragic incident involving a young man I once knew. He was part of a family that had a call to the Mission Field. As the time of their being sent forth drew near the parents raised concerns regarding the safety and living arrangements for the children. Sadly, they forfeited their call to the field on two different occasions primarily due to concerns for their children. A high missions calling was forfeited due to not trusting God in His ability to preserve, keep and provide for His own. The sword that was feared eventually caught up with this family in the end. It did not have to end this way. It is a modern day story that can be applied to what is seen here.
A reassuring word is now being given to Ezekiel that there would be a future Restoration in Israel. The ones who submitted to captivity are those who would be part of the remnant. They are those who are spoken of in Jer 24:5-7. These are the good figs that hear the Word and obey it. They are given the promise of a new heart and a new Spirit which is a description of the new Covenant (vs 19). This was the primary purpose for the captivity of Babylon. Yes, it was a means of judgement due to the disobedience of the people but it was also a means of cleansing and coming to know the heart of God. The fruit of the New Covenant is that they would have the ability to walk in his statutes and keep His ordinances. In addition, the Lord will be pleased to be called our God while we become His people. Actually, one only needs to go back to the Book of Deuteronomy to understand that this is what the Lord was after all along. Moses had the 40 years in the wilderness to be prepared to be the leader of Israel after their Exodus from Egypt. This experience helped him in becoming more acquainted with the heart of God. The children of Israel likewise went through a 40-year wilderness experience but they failed in the area of God’s Law. They found it offensive and restrictive. Their disqualification at Mt. Sinai from becoming priests helped to pave the way for where they find themselves at this time (Exo 20:18). The Lord makes clear that there will be a remnant and it will be to those who allow God to work deeply within their lives. It is to those who say yes to God. The majority said no to God’s Word and are now about to suffer the consequences. Those who heard and hearkened are the remnant that God will one day allow to be restored. If you were living in Ezekiel’s day which of the two groups would you subscribe to?
Finally, in verses 22-25 the glory of the Lord lifts from the city and settles upon the mountain which was in the midst of the city. It is a picture of what was going to take place after Jesus died and was resurrected. He was rejected in Jerusalem and crucified. After His resurrection, He ascended into heaven from the Mt. of Olives into Glory. It is here where the Lord will place His feet when He returns (Zech 14:4). It is an extraordinary set of revelations that God is allowing Ezekiel to experience. There will be several parallels that will be seen with John when the Lord allows him to be caught up in the Spirit. What will be the manner of revelation and insight that will be given to the church of the last days? The Lord saves His best for last but let us never forget that with great light and insight comes great responsibility. Let us ever cry out for a pure heart.
A picture of what the captivity will look like is presented in this chapter. As is seen on other occasions Ezekiel is called upon to act out what will later become a reality. Is it possible that some might take notice and turn from their rebellion? It is doubtful due to having eyes that do not see or ears to hear what God is speaking. This should help us to appreciate what the Lord says to the seven churches in Revelation at the end of each address; he that hath ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying. Israel was dull of hearing and unresponsive to God’s Word in Ezekiel’s day. What will be said concerning the church in our generation? Ezekiel was required to gather his essentials during the day and dig a hole through a wall and carry his things through. It was a sign as to what would soon take place on a broad scale. It did not take long seeing that Jerusalem was taken in the evening (2 Kings 25:4).
In verses 8-12 Ezekiel is given instruction as to what he would say to those who would enquire as to what he was doing. It was to verbalise what the king and everyone left in the city would be doing once the seizing of the city took place.
King Zedekiah, who was the last king of Israel (Judah) is captured and brought back to Babylon. He was a weak king who could not stand on behalf of Jeremiah when he was under threat. He initially gave an oath to Nebuchadnezzar that he would serve him but rebelled. This will be later picked up in Eze 17:12-21. The judgement upon Zedekiah was that he would see his sons slain and then have his eyes plucked out (Jer 39:6-7). Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied concerning Zedekiah. This officially brought about the end of the reign of the kings and the nation of Israel as it fell into Babylonian hands.
Jeremiah is once again called upon to act out a scene that will depict that which will soon take place. He was to eat bread with quaking and drink water with trembling. It is a picture of how astonished and dumbfounded the people would be when they consider the devastation to come. You see a similar scene in the Book of Revelation when the city “Babylon the great” is destroyed (Rev 18). People will view from afar a city that was once world renown being brought to absolute rubble. Can these things really happen? This was a question that many in Jerusalem in Ezekiel’s day was about to find out.
Ezekiel was then told to speak to the false prophets and people who were cynical to people like Jeremiah and others. They would hear the Word of the Lord and the warnings. They would either say the vision and Word was for another day or they would dismiss it all together. Ezekiel was now to let them know that the Word of the Lord was indeed about to come to pass. The time has now come and the Word of the Lord was about to be realized. One can only imagine how terrifying and distraught the people would be when the reality would hit them. There were scoffers and mockers then just like there are today. The parallels between the days of Ezekiel and our day today cannot be ignored. We better learn their lessons and seek the Lord while he still may be found.
How does one begin an introduction to this great book and seek to do it any justice? This summary is a very short overview with minimal insights to be given. It is hoped that it will provoke a greater hunger and study into this prophetic book. Let’s cover a few basics right from the beginning. Do you want to receive a blessing from God? Read the Book of Revelation (vs 3). It does not matter if you do not understand everything (who does?) nonetheless, there is a stated blessing if one takes time to read it. The Book of Revelation concludes that which was begun in Genesis. This is an important truth seeing that it will help our overall understanding as we progress through the chapters. The Book of Genesis is the origin and beginning of all things. The Book of Revelation concludes that which Genesis started. Can you see how this may help to give a more comprehensive understanding of the Book?
I would like to add a brief overview that is taken from Dr. Brian Bailey’s Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a contrast of what was begun in Genesis with what is ended in Revelation. The insertion from his book will be italicized.
|The first creation||The new creation|
|The first Adam nad his bride||The Second Adam and His Bride|
|Paradise lost||Paradise regained|
|The serpent seduces||The serpent judged|
|Babylon (Babel) founded||Babylon destroyed|
|The tree of life forbidden||The tree of life offered|
|The old world judged by the Flood||The Seals, Trumpets, Vials|
The Book of Revelation is pretty much chronological in much of its content. The first three chapters will relate to John’s day. In chapter 4 onwards he is taken in the spirit into the future too see the end times and much of what will take place. What he is shown is pretty much focused on the last 7-year period. He then speaks of the millennium and the new heaven and new earth in Revelation 20-22.
The Book of Revelation came into existence after Jesus ascended into heaven. It was given to Jesus from the Father who then sent it to John by an angel. John was about 90 years old when he was given this revelation. He was one who had a close intimate relationship with Christ when He walked upon the earth. We see qualities in John at the time of the upper room which helps to qualify him to be the one now given this extraordinary revelation. Remember, it was John who was given the revelation of the betrayer before others came to know (John 13:25-26). What he received in a smaller scale at the time of the upper room by way of revelation is now to be increased exponentially. John saw the Lord, touched the Lord and knew Him as the Living Word. He will now become a conduit in expressing the revealed plan of God for man as it relates to the last days.
In verse 3 the exhortation is given that we are to hear and keep the sayings of the Book. The Book of Revelation is written as a prophesy so we will see many linkages from many of the Old Testament prophets. The prophets of old were consistently warning the children of Israel to hear the Word of the Lord but for the most part they refused. The people of our day better take heed because that which John will speak will be the culmination of all things. If God allowed His own people to be judged in former days He certainly will allow for it to happen again to those who are rebellious and disobedient. This is especially true when considering how much more light we have and the blessings that we have come to know.
John speaks to the 7 churches in Asia which came under his jurisdiction. The specific letters will be looked at in chapters 2 and 3. John had apostolic authority and so it only makes sense that he would be given the revelation and insights that the Spirit would give on their behalf. The messages to the 7 churches had relevance for John’s day but they will speak volumes to the last day church as well. John gives a beautiful description of Jesus in verse 5. He is the firstborn of the dead. This is an expression that Paul used when he wrote to the Colossian church (Col 1:18). We need to bear in mind that there was considerable heresy being taught during the period of the early church. Paul and John were very clear as to who Jesus was and is and they made every effort to present Him accordingly to others.
John speaks of Jesus as both a king and priest and that He seeks to produce these qualities in each of our lives. This will be repeated in Revelation 5:10. We are also called to be kings and priests but we see it is a process whereby one is made a king/priest. We are not automatically kings and priests when we are born again. We have the calling but not the actual outworking of it accomplished at salvation. The pattern is first seen in the life of Melchizedec (Gen 14:18). He was both a king and a priest. The church world today is very much caught up on the subject of kingdom living. It’s true, we are called to reign with him as kings but we oftentimes minimize the priestly role of Christ. Why is this? The priest is a picture of the Lamb. It speaks of the message of the Cross and a circumcised heart. We will reign with Christ to the extent we allow the priesthood of Christ to be applied. This is made clear in Rev 20:6 where we are called to reign with Him as priests. We will develop this thought throughout our study in Revelation.
The Lord reveals Himself as the Alpha and Omega in verse 8. This helps to assure that the work He has begun in us will be fulfilled (Phil 1:6). He was before time and will always be. This helps to reinforce the thought of the beginnings seen in Genesis with the completion seen in Revelation. This phrase is repeated in verse 11 as he is about to prepare to write what the angel will give him for the 7 churches. This phrase is also used in Rev 21:6 and 22:13.
John now has his eyes opened to see the Lord walking among the 7 golden candlesticks. He was clothed with priestly garments. His garments were made of white linen which speaks of righteousness through and through. The golden girdle speaks of His divinity and character. It also symbolises truth and faithfulness (Isa 11:5). If we want to seek to be like Him we should take note of this Revelation of Christ. His head and hair were white like wool which speaks of wisdom (vs 14). We saw in our study of Colossians that the Lord was full of wisdom and knowledge. In fact, He is wisdom personified. John then sees His eyes as a flame of fire which speaks of His ability to penetrate and see through all situations and people. This results in hidden things being brought to the light. It is best to have this revelation of the Lord now as we seek him to be made whole and righteous. How do we respond when things are brought to the light? Do we acknowledge our transgression or hide and cover it up? The description continues as His feet are likened to fine brass. Brass has the connotation of judgement; it is consistent and does not change. It symbolizes the fact that God’s standards do not change. One of the things we see today in life and in the church is the term “situational ethics”. Another term used with regard to the American Constitution is that it is a living breathing document. This means that law can evolve to fit the times and ever changing ways of culture. God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His laws are absolute!
The sharp two edged sword mentioned in verse 16 is the Word of God. How well do we know the Word; how well do we apply the Word? It is the Word of God that can cut to the core of a heart and discern its intent. This revelation of the Lord that John was exposed to left him for dead (vs 17). He was totally overwhelmed in all that he was being witness to. He was not alone, it happened to others such as Daniel, Joshua etc. The presence of God in His holiness is too much for man to bear; sin cannot stand in the presence of a Holy God.
John is given the revelation of Jesus as the one who God raised from the dead and that He had been given the key over hell and death. This was important for John to see due to the series of judgements that his eyes were going to be soon opened up to. He is instructed to get ready to write the things he has and is seeing now (Rev 1-3) and the things he will see hereafter (Rev 4-22). The Lord gives the interpretation of the 7 candlesticks that were earlier seen in verse 13. The 7 stars represent the angels over the 7 churches that will be revealed in chapters 2 and 3. The 7 candlesticks represent the 7 churches themselves. They can also refer to the 7 spirits of the Lord anointing that help to give light, guidance and strength (Isa 11:2-3, Zech 4:1-6). These 7 churches were literal churches in John’s day. The message that will come is for these churches but they also are for us. It is the 7 spirit of the Lord anointing that helps to give insights and guidance to make proper application that these 7 churches will provide to the church of the last days.