To many readers the book of Ezekiel is a hopeless riddle. We still find many features of the man and his message difficult and sometimes even shocking, if not offensive. The bizarre opening vision catches us off guard and tempts us to stop reading. However, if we persist, and if we meditate long and hard on individual utterances and sign actions, we will discover that despite the strangeness of the man and his utterances, this is the most clearly organized of the major prophetic books. Individual prophecies are clearly marked by headings and often by conclusions. If we persist, we will also discover that from a rhetorical perspective, this priestly prophet knew his audience; he recognized in Judah’s rebellion against YHWH the underlying cause of the divine fury that resulted in the exile of his people and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. But he also recognized that YHWH’s judgment could not be the last word. Because his covenant was eternal and irrevocable he looked forward to a day of spiritual renewal and national restoration.
This is the first of two volumes of essays on the prophet Ezekiel and the book bearing his name. The seven general essays and two studies of particular texts in this collection explore the times, the message, and the methods of the prophetic priest.
“Proposition 7: In order to preach from Ezekiel with authority and clarity for the church, we need to link his message with that of the New Testament responsibly.” (Page 24)
“A third distinctive feature of the book is the care with which many of the oracles are dated.” (Page 9)
“Second, the selection of texts for a sermon series on Ezekiel should be based on several complementary principles” (Page 17)
“Ezekiel’s primary audience was the community of Jews in Babylon” (Page 26)
“While Ezekiel’s preaching was firmly grounded in the Scriptures and the traditions of Israel, the goal of his preaching was to change the people’s thinking about YHWH and their disposition towards themselves. The universalism of Isaiah stands in sharpest contrast to the parochialism of Ezekiel. From beginning to end, the God who confronts the reader in this book is the God of Israel, not only passionate about his relationship with his people, but willing to stake his reputation on their fate or fortune. He does indeed sit on his throne in the heavens as cosmic king, and his rule extends to the furthest corners of the earth (1:1–28), but his chosen residence is in Jerusalem,14 in the land of Canaan/Israel (chs. 40–48), among his own people (48:35).” (Pages 12–13)
Once again Daniel Block has provided wise perspectives that enable us to ‘see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and set our hearts’ (Ezekiel 40:4) on many of the enigmas in the book of Ezekiel.
—Mark J. Boda, professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College
Few scholars, whether evangelical or critical, Christian or Jewish, know the book of Ezekiel like Daniel Block. This collection of essays profoundly deepens and enriches our appreciation of the prophet’s work and is an essential resource for all who study it.
—Iain Duguid, professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary.
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