This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!
The Big Picture of Ezekiel:
Ezekiel (the person) was a prophet and a priest during a pretty hard time in Judah’s history. He was among the Jews that had been exiled to Babylon. At that time there was hope that perhaps they’d return soon and all would be well. As he lived among his fellow exiles Ezekiel was called by God to tell the people that was not the case. Jerusalem would indeed fall and be destroyed. Once that happened then Ezekiel’s message was able to shift to words of hope and peace.
Dates and Facts about Ezekiel:
- Ezekiel’s call – 593 B.C. (1:1-2, 3:16)
- Jerusalem’s destruction ~ 586 B.C.
- Ezekiel’s last prophecy – 571 B.C.
- While other prophets mainly talk about Israel’s sinful idolatry and all the ways they have fallen away. While some of that is in Ezekiel it seems he is more focused on reminding God’s people who they are, a people set apart and made holy by God. It’s almost as if He’s reminding the people who they really are beyond and behind the choices they’ve made.
- Holiness is a big theme in this book, both the holiness and power of God and His need for His people to be holy.
- From a literary standpoint Ezekiel is a fascinating book as it has many different genres involved including history, prophecy, apocalyptic sections, and even some parables.
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- “He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.’ As He spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard Him speaking to me.” (Ezekiel 2:1-2)
REFLECTION: One fascinating thing about these two verses is that God commands something (to stand), but then He actually does it. Have you every seen this in your life, where God calls you to something but then also is the one providing whatever you need to actually do what He says? Where do you need Him to cause you to act this week?
- “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19)
REFLECTION: What seems to be “dividing” your heart? What is stealing your attention? Spend sometime in prayer asking God to UNdivide your heart and give you a new spirit that seeks Him and Him alone!
- “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34:16)
REFLECTION: God is and always has been on a search and rescue mission. He longs to bring healing and strength to His people. How might He be calling you to join in His work this week?
- “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.'” (Ezekiel 37:3)
REFLECTION: What feels dry and dead in your life? Where does renewal and restoration feel impossible? Where do you need God’s Spirit to breathe new life?
God’s Grace in Ezekiel:
I have always loved the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. It also creeps me out a little but that’s beside the point. In this story God takes Ezekiel to this valley full of bones. He makes him walk throughout it as if to really grasp the deadness in that place. Then God poses a question: “Can these bones live?” I’m not sure how I would have responded, especially to God. It seems like a trick question almost. Ezekiel’s response is not only brilliant but also declares His faith and trust: “O Sovereign Lord, only You know.” He sure didn’t know. These weren’t just dead bodies, these people had been dead a while, everything has decayed all the way down to bones. From that place God lets Ezekiel be a part of His restoration as He invites Ezekiel to prophecy to the bones. As He does Scripture says, “… and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army” (vs 10).
He did this as a representation of what He was going to do for the people of God in exile, yet this wasn’t just figurative… people really did rise that day in that valley. It would have been amazing just for one of those sets of bones to be restored to life, but God raised the whole group, a vast army. I think that’s such a great picture of God’s grace, always abundant, always going above and beyond. We often want him to fix this one little part of our life and He wants to overhaul it completely. We just want to feel a little less depressed and he wants to bring us deep and lasting joy. We would be okay with just a little fixing up and, as he mentions many places throughout the book, He wants to give us a complete heart transplant. Abundant grace indeed.
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video of Ezekiel 1-33
- The Bible Project summary video of Ezekiel 34-48
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Ezekiel
- Reflections from last week in Lamentations
- The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!