Revelation, Ezekiel and Daniel are often described as “apocalyptic literature”—i.e. books that disclose or uncover hidden truths, generally characterized by the use of symbols. We’ll look at Daniel (and some other books) next week. This week we’re going to take a lightning tour of Ezekiel.
There are lots of non-Biblical and non-Jewish apocalypses. Three common themes are
1. A general feeling of pessimism about the present day world
2. Belief in some kind of divine intervention
3. The use of symbols, the uncovering of hidden meanings.
How do you think these themes relate to our lives and our world?
How do you think a desire for power and control affects our understanding of symbols?
Do you think modern science helps or hinders us in understanding symbols?
Ezekiel and Daniel both lived at the time of the Babylonian Exile. Ezekiel is a priest. Daniel is a government official. Both are deeply devoted to their scriptures and their faith. When John wrote the book of Revelation, the Christians had likewise been exiled from Jerusalem and were facing enormous difficulties in Rome. How do you think their situation might relate to that of the Babylonian exiles?
1. Read Ezekiel 1:4-14
What images do you recognize from Revelation?
Are the 4 living creatures the same? (See Rev 4:6-8)
2. Read Ezekiel 1:15-18
What do you think wheels might mean?
Was there anything circular in John’s vision of the heavenly Temple? (Rev 4:6)
3. Read Ezekiel 1: 25-28
Does this remind you of John’s vision of heaven?
What do you think precious stones might symbolize?
4. Read Ezekiel 2:1-2
Who else was lifted up by the Spirit?
What does the phrase “son of man” mean? (used lots more in Ezekiel than in Daniel)
5. Read Ezekiel 2:9-3:3
Do you remember someone else being told to eat a scroll?
How did it taste? (see Rev 10)
How would you describe God’s word as tasting today?
6. Read Ezekiel 3:12-19
Do you think the rumbling sound is wheels on a machine or is it symbolic?
Are there any other familiar symbols here? (see Rev 1:16, 4:5, etc)
Do you think we are “watchmen”?
7. Read Ezekiel 5:1-5
Is there a familiar numerical symbol here?
The prophecy was fulfilled fairly precisely in the destruction of Jerusalem. Do you think it has any other meaning?
8. Read Ezekiel 7:1-3
Does this just mean the end of an era, or the end of time?
9. Read Ezekiel 7:15-23
Was anyone told to escape to the mountains in the New Testament? (see Matt 24:16)
Can you remember what the 4 horses of the apocalypse represented? (see Rev 6:1-8)
10. Read Ezekiel 10:1-7
Here are those wheels again, and fire being carried from one place to another. Where is fire usually carried from and to in the temple? (See Leviticus 16:12, Exodus 30:9)
What did it mean in Revelation when the bowls were thrown down?
Who are the cherubim? Do you think it’s right to say they might be the same as the four living creatures? What would that mean? (see Genesis 3:24, Samuel 22:11, Psalm 18:10)
11. Read Ezekiel 10:9-14
Do you see any familiar symbols here?
12. Read Ezekiel 10:18-19
Who entered the temple through the East Gate in the New Testament? (see Luke 19)
Do you think this is significant?
13. Read Ezekiel 10:20-22
Try to imagine this as a piece of modern art. What does it make you think about?
14. Read Ezekiel 11:16-25
What mountain is referred to as being East of Jerusalem?
Why might this vision be relevant to ends-times as well as to the exile?
15. Read Ezekiel 27: 25-36
Ezekiel goes on to prophesy against Israel for abandoning God’s law, and the nations around about for abandoning Israel. Some of the prophesies are very specific and very accurate. In chapter 27 we read the lament for Tyre, a trading city.
Does this remind you of anything in Revelation?
Why might Tyre and Babylon have related symbolic meanings? (See Revelation 18:1-3)
16. Read Ezekiel 32: 1-8
This prophecy is alluded to in Revelation 8:12-13. What had Egypt done that caused it to be condemned?
Who might this prophesy apply to today?
17. Read Ezekiel 38:17-25
Does this remind you of Armageddon?
This prophecy is mentioned in Revelation 6:12-17 and Revelation 8:6-7. Who might the message in Revelation be aimed at?
18. Read Ezekiel 39:11-12 and 17-25
When the armies of Satan marched against God at Armageddon, the battle was over before it began (Revelation 19:17-18 and 20:7-10). Why might we think Ezekiel’s prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled yet, even though the Jews returned to Jerusalem?
19. Read Ezekiel: 40:1-7
Where have we seen a bronze man before? (see Rev 1:15, 2:18)
Where have we seen the East gate before?
Why do you think Ezekiel gives the measurements in such detail? He even mentions the palm trees (verse 16) that appear in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:18).
Do you think we’re supposed to try to build this Temple ourselves?
There’s a lot of measuring mentioned in Revelation too. See Revelation 11:1-2 and 21:15-21. Do you think there’s a connection? Does it affect your view of science?
20. Read Ezekiel 41:3-4
Okay, I had to add this one. The inner sanctuary is a cube. What cube do you remember from Revelation? (see Revelation 21:15-16)
21. Read Ezekiel 43:1-7
Which gate does God return through? (see Luke 19:28-48)
22. Read Ezekiel 44: 1-3
Did you know the East Gate of Jerusalem is closed, and has been since 1530AD? The Turks closed it and built a cemetery so the Jewish Messiah wouldn’t be able to enter.
23. Read Ezekiel 47:1-12
See Revelation 22:1-3. Are there any familiar symbols here?
24. Read Ezekiel 48:30-35
Have we recently read about a Holy City with names of the tribes on its walls?