Monday, 2 May 2016

Ezekiel's Vision

I think much if not all of it may have happened already. And the Bible records the history. In Ezra. Nehemiah. Esther. It was phenomenal!

Remember Ezekiel was describing a vision, which included symbols, and he was writing in the apocalyptic genre - unlike Moses who wrote in prose and whose instructions for the construction of the tabernacle were therefore taken literally by the builders. But Ezekiel's description of his vision was never understood as instruction for builders to take literally. Not then. Not now.

Moses gave plain instruction. Ezekiel described a vision. Ezekiel's purpose was to lift the courage of Jews in captivity. To strengthen their hands. The superlative imagery was to cause their spirits to soar against the winds of adversity from Israel's enemies. And it worked! I think we really underestimate the magnitude of what was achieved by Israel's resettlement and rebuilding of their land, city and temple. We also tend to overlook what God also did among the nations and among the Jews' enemies at that time. It was second only to the Exodus in magnitude!

If Ezekiel's vision was instead about our future, then the Jews of his time were mistaken in thinking it was meant to encourage their repatriation to their land, mistaken in thinking his prophecy authorised the rebuilding of their Temple.

It would mean God had nothing much at all to say to them, at that crucial phase in their nation's history when they most needed a word from God.

In fact, it would have been misleading. For Ezekiel to prophesy things which sounded like what they most needed to hear, when they most needed to hear it, and yet it had nothing at all to do with them there then.

And most importantly, if it's still future, then Jesus was too early in history to be Messiah (because Messianic prophecies described Messiah coming to Israel in circumstances where the temple had to be already in existence and the Levitical system already functioning again). Our faith would be in vain.

It would imply the necessity of a return to Judaism in future - and yet the rug has been pulled on the possibility of that happening legitimately. So if it's future, even Orthodox Judaism is a vain hope.

It would make the word of God a failure. And that would mean both Christianity and Judaism are just air-castles with no undeniable foundation in Scripture or history.

I'm sure there's still more to Ezekiel's prophecy than we've discussed so far. Some future, spiritual and eternal implications, perhaps. But I do think it's most likely that most of his physical, Levitical, geographical predictions  have seen their fulfilment already. And that historical fact forms a foundation for our faith and for anything else God has planned for the future.

That's the Apostles' doctrine, I think.

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