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14 July, 2017

Ezekiel - Introductory Note to Chapters 40-48


Introductory Note to Chapters 40-48

These chapters describe a vision given to Ezekiel some twelve years after the prophecies of chapters 33-37 (cf. 40:1 with 33:21). In these earlier prophecies, he had declared to the exiles in Babylon God’s purpose to restore Israel to the holy land as a nation purified, redeemed and re-united. The question must have been much in the prophet’s mind how this restored community would be fashioned in its religious and political life; and in these chapters God gives to the prophet the answer to his questionings. There is first a description of sanctuary, to which Jehovah will come in glory, and in which He will take up His dwelling (40-43); second, regulations with regard to the ministers of the sanctuary, and to the ‘prince’ who shall rule over the people; and third, the boundaries of the land are defined, and the territories of the tribes.
            The question is sometimes asked whether the vision will be literally fulfilled. Why, however, should we suppose this any more than that the vision of chapter I is a literal portray of the divine Being? It is true that the prophets generally associate great changes in nature with the advent of ‘the day of the Lord’, and this is affirmed also in the New Testament (see, e.g., Rom. 8:21), but this is not to say that the vision which Ezekiel saw will find literal fulfillment. It is rather a setting forth, within the limits of Old Testament symbolism, of fundamental principles concerning God’s relation to His redeemed and sanctified people when He dwells in their midst in His glory.