The word holy appears in Ezekiel at least thirty-five times––holy being what God continually asks His people to be. If not, there would be consequences. Israel had become so idolatrous and murderous, which angered God more than we’ll probably ever know. Although He has promised not to forsake them, He must allow them to go into exile and captivity because of their treacherous sins.
Chapter 1––Vision of God’s Chariot
The Book of Ezekiel has been accused of not being in chronological order. It is said to be only a series of prophesies, parables, visions and symbolism. But once you have a grasp of the Book of Ezekiel, you will see that this book is much more than just a list of prophesies in some unknown order. There is a most definite order to these visions, beginning with this first one.
This first chapter the ancient Jewish Sages say that Ezekiel speaks of the workings of the Heavenly Throne, a topic so far removed from human comprehension that even the Sages of the Talmud felt inadequate to interpret it. The Sages also believe this chapter describes supernatural concepts in human terms, but they cannot be understood literally nor are we equipped even to attempt a glimpse at their inner meaning.
I believe that we can indeed understand what is going on in this chapter (at least to a great extent). When we don’t understand the words of the Bible it is because we are coming from a very Greek understanding, trying to understand a very Hebrew book.
The angels are literal angels, and the chariot is the literal chariot of God. God gave Ezekiel a glimpse of His chariot, in all its glory––or at least a portion of its actual glory––as it came toward him. This was not done for any other prophet, so I am sure Ezekiel felt honored and humbled that God would choose to show him these things of Himself. God’s Word to Ezekiel was being delivered to him by Yeshua Himself (although He was not called Yeshua at the time)!
Ezekiel’s Vision of God’s Chariot
In some Bibles, this first chapter has a title heading of The Living Creatures, in others it is labeled Ezekiel’s vision of God, and in the Stone Edition Tanach it is called Ezekiel’s vision of the Chariot.
What actually happens in this first chapter is that God allowed Ezekiel to see into the spiritual realm––a realm that we sometimes brush off as not being real. But we are surrounded by a realm that we cannot see, and Ezekiel was allowed to see into it, if only for a few moments. A vision is never mentioned (in this chapter)––Ezekiel calls it the Word of Yahweh in verse three.
Ezekiel sees God arriving in all His glory––in His chariot. Ezekiel was given a great privilege compared to the other prophets. While it appears that only an angel of Yahweh is sent to the other prophets, we get a different view through Ezekiel’s eyes. Ezekiel sees into the spiritual realm the most amazing image of God’s chariot coming toward him, and the description of God’s glory that surrounded the angels and His chariot pales when translated into English.
When the Bible was translated into English from either Greek or Latin, we lost much in the translations because neither Latin nor Greek have words for the different types of angels. And so we miss much in our English translations.
In the Hebrew, we are able to see three different kinds of angels: the Chasmal**, the Chayah and the Ofan. The Chasmal is a type of angel that at times stands silent, and other times speaks God’s praises (according to the Talmud). A Chayah is literally a living being, with the plural being Chayot, and is one of the angels who bear God’s Chariot (again, according to the Talmud).
The Ofan literally means wheel, and Ofanim is the plural. It is another angelic being, but it seems to be a part of God’s Chariot. In fact, the angels appear to be the Chariot.
Chapter 3––The Watchman
In Chapter Two, and also in part of this chapter, Ezekiel is given instructions to take God’s message to the rebellious children of Israel. He is told to eat the scroll, which means he is to internalize God’s message and take God’s Word to Israel. He is to eat the scroll of the Torah in order to be able to speak God’s Word to His people.
The Hebrew word for eat is akal. It means to consume, devour or burn up. It is a word that is used figuratively and literally, and in this case it is figuratively. To eat the scroll is an idiom meaning to make the Word so much a part of your life, that it seems as if you have devoured it, making it a part of your very being. You live, breathe and eat the Word. For Ezekiel, it was this message God was giving him through visions, parables and words from God that he was to eat and devour, so it would become so much a part of him that when he spoke, those who the message was for could not mistake it for anything but a message from God.
God tells Ezekiel he has been sent to Israel, who are not a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, your words they cannot understand (verse 5). They may not believe him, but they will understand him. Ezekiel is told that Israel will not listen to him, but he is still to bring the message to the people. Interestingly, Ezekiel is to address the captives as if they were all of Israel, but at first it was only to those who had already been taken captive. Those remaining in Jerusalem, for there was still one last group there, would not hear his words until after they had been taken captive or by messenger.
In verse 17 we find that Ezekiel is also called to be a Watchman for the house of Israel. In verses 6-9 we see God encouraging Ezekiel, telling him that He has made him greater in fortitude than Israel, therefore Ezekiel is not to fear them as he delivers God’s message to them.
Ezekiel is in God’s Chariot during his time in the Spirit, so in verse 12 we read that the sound of the wings of the Chayot and Ofanim angels can be heard while he is being carried to the next part of the vision.
Ezekiel was silent for seven days at first, but then he is told he will be held responsible for those he does not warn. Ezekiel states that he is bitter, in the wrath of his spirit, on behalf of God, because of Israel (verses 16-21).
The Spirit of God then entered Ezekiel and stood him up so he could be told what he is to do next. God told hi to shut himself up in his house until he is given the whole prophecy (verses 22-27). He is also told that he is to be as if he is bound and gagged, and is to be mute for seven days while in his house. Timing is critical to God, and it was not quite the time to say anything to Israel until Ezekiel had the full prophecy.
Ezekiel is silent for those seven days because he has become mute and bound within his house––metaphorically. We know this because of the Hebrew word used for bind and bound. Although the word for bands (or ropes) is the Hebrew word abot, and means a band, rope or thick bough, when you look at the Hebrew word for bind or bound, it is asar and means a vow of silence. So this seven days of silence is not Ezekiel actually being bound or mute––he gave God a vow of being silent until he received the whole prophecy to give to Israel. It was that important to God, and Ezekiel knew it.
Chapter 12––A Sign to Israel
God sets Ezekiel as a sign to the house of Israel. Ezekiel is a priest of God and it is during the Babylonian captivity (12:1-6). This Sign is a very obvious sign that will burn into the minds of the Israelites––but they will not listen to him.
Ezekiel is actually a sign to Israel throughout this whole book, but there are only five places where God actually says this in Scripture. He has done everything God told him to quite visibly, and he has spoken to them in their own Hebrew language so they would understand him (3:5), but still they would ask him, “What are you doing?” (verse 9).
He was even commanded to tell them he is a sign for them, and that whatever he has done so it shall be done to them, including exile (verses 11-16). The siege that Ezekiel enacted in their plain view, as well as the tunneling through the wall, the laying on his side for three hundred ninety days, and everything God has him do, was all done and told to them as a sign for the Israelites. God tells them through Ezekiel that He will actually leave a few of them alive just so they will know He is Yahweh, their God.
The Hebrew word for sign is mofet (mow-fet), but the word ki-mofet is used in Ezekiel. Mofet is a sense of a conspicuous miracle, token, omen or sign, and is from the root word yafah, meaning bright. The word ki added to the front of mofet means a brand or scar or a burning––to burn into one’s mind. So the words ki-mofet mean a very obvious, even very bright, sign that will burn into the minds of those who see it––which in this case was all of Israel.
Chapters 40-48––Vision of a Temple
Chapters 40 through 48 are the vision Ezekiel was given of a Temple in Jerusalem. Many have speculated that this is the Third Temple that must be built before Yeshua returns.
There are several small problems with this, the first being there is never any mention of actually building this Temple. Instead, we find that Ezekiel’s Temple resembles Revelation’s Temple, which is portrayed as Jerusalem, the holy city and in Covenant relationship with Yeshua, which is the bride.
The Hebrew word for bride is kalah and the ancient meaning is to be made complete or perfect, without spot or blemish. In Revelation, the bride (or wife) of Messiah is being compared with Jerusalem––the city of Messiah. It is the perfection of holiness.
This Temple in Ezekiel is a metaphor, pointing to something entirely different than what is actually written in English. And we will find the answers in the Hebrew words.
When deciding on whether or not to put Ezekiel into the Bible, the Rabbis had a hard time with Ezekiel’s vision of apparent Temple practices that are not in Leviticus. But, as mentioned before, Ezekiel’s Temple is not speaking of an Earthly Temple––nor really a Temple at all. So therefore, we must look at the Hebrew words behind these Temple practices to discover what the prophet really wrote about.
**Chasmal––This word is spelled incorrectly in the book....it is actually supposed to be Chashmal. This error will be corrected in the book sometime in the near future.
Updated September 28, 2018
The Sign of Ezekiel: A Message for Today!
A study of Ezekiel like none you’ve ever read before. The events Ezekiel prophesied about have already happened, but they were only the REHEARSAL...Ezekiel's warning is also for the people of God today! Discover what this mysterious Book is REALLY all about.