The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (30)
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
- Some Preliminary Observations
- The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
- The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
- The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
- Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
- The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
- Prophecy and Idolatry
- Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
- The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
- God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
- The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
- Israel's Past and Future Experiences
- The Sword of Jehovah
- Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
- The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
- The Boiling Caldron
- Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
- The Oracle Concerning Tyre
- The Oracles Concerning Egypt
- The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
- The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
- The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
- The Judgment upon Edom
- The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
- Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
- The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
- The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
- The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
- The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
- The Millennial Jerusalem
- The Millennial Temple
- The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
- The Land of Israel in the Millennium
The Millennial Jerusalem
In Ezekiel 40:1 to the close of the book we have the last oracle by this prophet. It is dated in the twenty-fifth year of Ezekiel's captivity, which was the captivity of Jehoiachin. This twenty-fifth year was the fourteenth year after the fall of the city of Jerusalem, which judgment fell in the eleventh year of Jehoiakim, since Jehoiachin's three months of reign are counted in the eleventh year of his predecessor, Jehoiakim. Ezekiel therefore dates his prophecies in terms of the captivity of Jehoiachin.
The fact that the prophets very frequently state that the word of Jehovah came unto them upon a certain date implies that they were not inspired all the time — under the guidance of the Spirit. Had they thus been inspired every moment of their lives, they would have had no occasion to speak of the word of Jehovah and its coming to them on certain dates. When they were thus moved, or borne along, by the Spirit, they spoke infallibly, everything which they said being absolutely and positively reliable in every respect, and true from every standpoint.
The Prophet Carried in the Visions of God
On the day of which the prophet was speaking, he declared:
... the hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me thither. 2 In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, whereon was as it were the frame of a city on the south.”
Frequently the prophets spoke of the hand of Jehovah's being upon them. By this expression they indicated that they were brought under the power and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Being thus inspired, they were carried from one place to another in the visions of God. The prophet, as we learned from the first chapter of Ezekiel, lived among the captives on the river Chebar, in Babylon. When the hand of the Lord came upon him, in the visions of God he was transported from his natural surroundings and was carried to the land of Israel. In dreams very frequently we go to some distant place and in the same dreams see surroundings with which possibly we have been familiar all of our lives. The dreams which people have are little understood by the psychologists, but we class them among natural phenomena. In doing this, we are correct. In Biblical times God did reveal Himself to different people and to various ones of His servants, the prophets, by dreams. Such dreams were inspired by — in the fullest manner possible — the Spirit of God. There were no contradictions. They were accurate and true to facts and, whenever they constituted a prediction, were fulfilled literally as seen. For instance, Pharaoh had a dream and in it God made revelations to him. The same thing was true of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. When he forgot the dream, or it fled from him, Daniel by the Spirit of God was enabled to reproduce it and to interpret it (see Daniel, chapter 2).
But there seems to be a difference between the biblical dreams inspired by the Spirit of God and the visions which were likewise granted to certain servants of the Lord by the Holy Spirit. Just what the distinction was, I have never been able to determine. In these visions, however, one would gather from that facts that probably the subject matter presented was made more graphic and vivid, and incidentally more permanent, than those which were given by inspired dreams. In the visions of God Ezekiel was transported to the land of Israel and saw a high mountain upon which a city was located. Thus in this vision the prophet was in full possession of all his intellectual faculties, and there appeared before him a high mountain upon which he was placed. On the southern portion of it was “as it were the frame of a city.” That which was presented was as real to him as if he were actually in his wakeful hours present, standing upon the material mountains and viewing the literal city. But when this vision was granted him, he still remained bodily at his home on the Chebar River in Babylon.
In contrast with being transported in the visions of God, as on this occasion, I may call attention to the fact that the prophet informs us regarding his having been taken up literally by the Spirit and of his having been transported from his place on the Chebar to another locality called Tel-abib that likewise was on or near the river Chebar. When he was thus dealt with by the Spirit of God, the prophet became embittered, as he confesses in the statement found in chapter 3:12-15. In the same category of events is to be reckoned the experience which Philip the Evangelist had after he had preached to the Ethiopian eunuch. Luke declares: “And he [the enunch] commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:38-40). Thus the Evangelist was taken up bodily by the Spirit of God and was transported to a place about fifty miles away. Realizing that God was dealing with him, and that the Lord had transported him to that place, he immediately began preaching the Word of the Lord and continued to do so as he went northward to Caesarea, the Roman capital of Palestine at that time.
The Land of Israel
The prophet declared that the Spirit of God transported him from Babylon to the land of Israel. What is meant by this designation? There is but one answer: the country which God gave to the twelve tribes of Israel when He brought them out of Egyptian bondage and settled them in Canaan. Two and a half tribes of the twelve settled down on the east side of the Jordan Valley, whereas the other nine and a half located west of the Jordan rift. Thus all of the land south of Lebanon, or Syria as it was in Biblical times called, lying between the Arabian Desert on the east and Mediterranean on the west, and extending south to Kadesh-Barnea, was known in Biblical times as the land of Israel.
This country was given by the Lord himself to the twelve tribes that decended from Jacob, whose name was changed to that of Israel. These people were sometimes called Hebrews and at others, children of Israel, or Israelites. After the disruption of the kingdom upon the death of Solomon when the ten northern tribes revolted, the term, kingdom of Israel, was applied to the government set up in the north, whereas Judah was the name given to the two tribes — remaining faithful to the house of David — and that had their government in Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the fact that there were two rival governments reigning over the twelve tribes of Israel, the terms, Israel and Judah, were used interchangeably — toward the end of the monarchy. After Zerubbabel led all the captives back who wished to return to the land of Israel, the terms Judah and Israel were always used interchangeably. This is seen by a survey of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which give the account of the time of the restoration from Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament period the terms, Judah and Israel, are used interchangeably as may be seen from a cursory review of a number of passages in the New Testament.
As stated above, all the land below the Lebanese border — as far south as Kadesh-Barnea which lay between the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Arabian Desert on the east — has been known through Biblical and post-Biblical times as Palestine. When, however, the British divided the land, separating the territory east of the Jordan from that west of it, and gave the former the name of Trans-Jordan, the name “Palestine” has been applied to the territory lying west of the Jordan and extending to the Mediterranean Sea. This parting of the land occurred in 1927. In 1937 and again in 1939 I visited the land of Palestine. People therefore understood that I went to that portion of the land west of the Jordan River.
Recently I went to the State of Israel, arriving at Lydda on December 20, 1949. I spent seventy days in the land. I did not, technically and correctly speaking, visit Palestine. I simply went to the State of Israel. What, then, is Israel? It is that part of Palestine west of the Jordan which has been occupied by the Israeli government, which was set up on May 14, 1948 — when the British withdrew from Palestine, giving up the Mandate. In my seventy days in Israel I made Jerusalem my headquarters. Mail directed to me in Jerusalem, Palestine, did not reach me, but that which was sent to Jerusalem, Israel, did reach me. The Jewish-Arabic War has never been settled. Only an armistice has been imposed upon the two contending governments by the United Nations. The lines of battle are drawn, with no-man's land between. This line of battle divides the city of Jerusalem, as well as the entire land. The old city of Jerusalem within the walls and part of it north of it are behind the Arab lines, whereas the modern city and the western part lies west of the battlefront and is in the hands of the Israeli government. But let us remember that God promised to the twelve tribes of Israel, not only that which was historically known as Palestine, but also He by oath gave to Abraham and his descendants all the land lying between the River of Egypt and the Euphrates. This territory is by divine grant the property of the Hebrew people — notwithstanding the babel of tongues today denying their right to that land. In the Lord's own good time, however, He will give all this territory to His chosen beloved people who, at the time that it is turned over to them, will become the channel of world blessing. May that day hastily come!
A Very High Mountain
The prophet was transported to the land of Israel and was set down on “a very high mountain.” What mountain was this? From this chapter we do not learn. But when we read the 48th chapter, we learn what it is. When this prophecy is fulfilled — at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints to reign upon the earth for a thousand years — the entire land of Palestine will be leveled down and will be like an extended valley, the Garden of Jehovah (Numbers 24:6-8). The land will be at that time divided into twelve equal parts. Seven of these will lie north of the mountain which is called “the holy oblation,” whereas five of them will be south of it. Thus the mountain will be located in a position a little south of the exact center of the land.
The measurements of this mountain are given in terms of reeds, but according to the best estimates, five hundred reeds make one English mile. According to the details given in chapter 47 this mountain will be fifty miles from north to south and fifty miles from east to west. It will be divided into three principal sections. The dividing lines will run from east to west. The first of these will be located twenty miles south of the northern border of the mountain. Thus from east to west this tract of land will be fifty miles; but from the north to south it will be only twenty miles deep.
In the center of this northern section there will be one square mile upon which the millennial Temple, God's house of prayer for all the nations, will be located. This will be the central point of attraction for the people of earth during the reign of our Lord. There can be no doubt concerning the fact that this structure will be the finest one which ever will be erected upon this globe. To this the nations of the world will flow constantly in order that they may go up and worship Jehovah of hosts, the Great King, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
This northern section will be allotted to the priests who will devote all of their time to the worship, the service, and the ministry of God.
The second dividing line will run parallel to the first one, but twenty miles farther south. Thus the second section will be fifty miles from the east to west and twenty miles from north to south. This special part of the land will be for the Levites who will assist the priests in their daily ministrations.
The southern section of this mountain will be only ten miles deep from north to south but will likewise be fifty miles in breadth — from east to west. This territory will be assigned to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Let me say, quoting from Psalm 48, that this mountain height will be the beauty spot, “the joy of the whole earth.” There will be nothing on the face of the globe that will be comparable to it. It is true that the curse will be lifted from the entire earth — with the exception of Babylon and Edom, upon which lands the curse will continue through the Millennium. The glory of God will encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea. Nevertheless, this mountain of Jehovah will surpass all other portions of the globe in exquisite beauty.
The City of Jerusalem
According to Ezekiel's dimensions the city of Jerusalem which will be located in the southern portion of this mountain height will be nine miles by nine miles. It will be surrounded by a suburb a half a mile in width. Thus the city, with its suburbs, will be ten miles in length and in breadth. It will located in the central part of this southern section.
Psalm 48 gives us a very clear description of this city. Isaiah (54:11-13) speaks of the city in terms of the precious stones that will be used in its construction. From such passages as Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-8 we see that the peoples of the world during the glorious reign of our Lord will go up from their places to this mountain of Jehovah to the house of the God of Jacob and will listen to Him as He instructs them in the law and in the Word of God — the law by which the nations of the world will be governed and the Word of the Lord, the gospel message of the truth of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ and His precious blood.
In Psalms 15 and 24 the question is asked as to who will be permitted to go up into this mountain of Jehovah's house. Those questions are answered. These two psalms constitute a revelation concerning the situation of the importance of the city of Jerusalem in the great Millennial Era.
“And he brought me thither; and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate” (40:3). Since the prophet was in the visions of God when he was brought to Jerusalem, it is quite clear that this man appeared to him in the vision. Since the man was in the vision it is certain that he was not a literal man. He therefore must have been an angel or one who represented an angel. This is the one who conducted him, in the visions of God, throughout this great Temple, that will be built by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns to earth.
The Divine Charge to the Prophet
This man of the vision gave a charge to Ezekiel saying: “Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee; for, to the intent that I may show them unto thee, art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel” (vs. 4). According to this verse we see that the prophet was charged to give close attention to the things that were presented to him in order that he in turn might convey the proper idea to those to whom it was his privilege to minister. Though the visions were presented to him, it was in order that he might take them in by giving close attention and then pass on the information, thus supernaturally imparted, to those to whom he ministered. God wants His truth given to the people. He today calls people into the ministry. Anyone who is a God-called person should avail himself of every opportunity of studying the blessed, holy Word of God to know what it teaches — apart from all theories and speculation — in order that he might give it forth to the people. Nothing avails after all except the will of God.
Everyone thus called of God to minister in holy things should have the ideal which was ever before Ezra the Scribe. Concerning him the inspired writer declared: “For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). May such a high ideal inspire everyone who thus deals with the Word of God.