Amos

Amos Overview

We do not know very much about Amos. All the biographical information we do have comes from his book, particularly today’s overview, which tells us he was “among the shepherds of Tekoa” (Amos 1:1). Unlike most of the other writing prophets of the Old Testament, Amos’ lifelong calling was not that of a prophet but involved agriculture. He spent most of his life as “a herdsman [shepherd] and a dresser of sycamore figs” (7:14), serving in prophetic ministry for no more than about two years sometime during the years 765–755 BC. Tekoa was a village in the southern kingdom of Judah, not far from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and we read about Tekoa in passages such as 2 Samuel 14 and 2 Chronicles 11:5–12. Though he was from Judah, Amos ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel, where he first spoke his prophecies (Amos 7:10–17). Later, they were written down for the sake of Judah and the succeeding generations of God’s people.

Amos ministered during the reigns of Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel. Scripture remembers Jeroboam II as a wicked king, but he enjoyed a successful reign from a geopolitical perspective. He took back all the territory Israel had lost to other nations, restoring the northern kingdom’s borders (2 Kings 14:23–27). Jeroboam II also helped Judah regain sovereignty over regions it had surrendered (vv. 28–29). Consequently, this was a great time of prosperity for Israel, as God granted Israel’s success (v. 27). Yet the elite soon forgot this. Wealthy Israelites took advantage of the poor (Amos 2:6–8; 5:10–12). Leaders boasted in their own strength, not in the Lord (Amos 6:8). Amos was sent to rebuke Israel for these sins and many others, and to call the nation to repentance.

Success is not inherently bad, but we should recognize that we are often more tempted to trust in ourselves during good times than during the bad. Moreover, we are often tempted to exploit whatever power we have over other people, whether relatives, employees, club members, the laity, and any who sit under our authority. Let us take care to trust the Lord and use our power only to serve others, and may we ask God regularly to strengthen us against self-reliance and exploiting others.

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Joel

Joel Overview

A locust invasion precipitated the vision of the next book in our yearlong study of the Bible. We refer to the book of Joel, which describes a plague of locusts under the old covenant as a type of the day of the Lord (Joel 1:4, 15–16). Following the invasion of locusts at one point in the history of God’s people, the Lord sent Joel to warn them that a worse day of judgment was yet ahead for the impenitent.

Of all the writing prophets, Joel is perhaps the hardest to date. The first issue is that we know nothing about Joel except that he was a prophet and the son of Pethuel (1:1). Although Joel is not an uncommon name in the Old Testament, appearing frequently in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles (for example, 4:35; 5:8; 6:33) and in Ezra 10:43, Nehemiah 11:9, and elsewhere, we cannot with certainty identify the prophet with any of these individuals. The name of Joel’s father, Pethuel, appears only in Joel 1:1. The second difficulty is that in his book, Joel himself offers few clues as to when he lived. Scholars have dated the book anywhere from the ninth to the second century BC. Most settle for a date just prior to the Babylonian exile or the immediate post-exilic period. We are dating the book just before the exile, though the book’s date bears little on its interpretation.

Joel took up his pen in response to the disaster of a locust invasion (v. 4). Ancient people often faced locust swarms, and even today one swarm can wreak incredible devastation, with up to 120 million locusts covering thousands of square miles. Modern technology can barely contain locust swarms, so we can only imagine their horror in the ancient world. Locusts could virtually eradicate a nation’s food supply, resulting in rising food prices, subsistence living, and disease, as well as economic catastrophe when no food was left for trade. Joel describes many of these effects (vv. 7–12).

Like the rest of the prophets, who speak of the day of the Lord as both a present occurrence and a future event in which God issues His final judgment on evil, Joel points to the locust invasion as a day of the Lord that foreshadows a greater day to come (vv. 13–18; see Ezek. 7:19; Obad. 15; Mal. 4:1–5). Given the locust devastation that Joel describes, the final day of the Lord must be far worse for the impenitent. The New Testament gives us the fullest picture of this day, when those who hate God will be cast into hell—where the “worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:42–48).

Hosea 9-14

Hosea 9-14…Warning against Idolatry.

Like Amos and Jonah, Hosea’s ministry occurred during the reign of King Jeroboam II in the north. However, Hosea’s work also continued long past Jeroboam’s death, as he kept serving through the reign of King Hezekiah in Judah (Hos. 1:1; see 2 Kings 14:25; Amos 1:1). Jeroboam II died in 753 BC, and Hezekiah took Judah’s throne sometime around the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:1–5; 18:1); thus, Hosea prophesied for about thirty to forty years.

We know almost nothing about Hosea except what is found in the book that bears his name. At the start of his ministry, the northern kingdom of Israel was experiencing prosperity that was surpassed only under the reigns of David and Solomon (2 Kings 14:23–29). Yet things changed dramatically after Jeroboam II died. Over the next twenty years, there was upheaval in Samaria, Israel’s capital, as four of the six kings who followed Jeroboam II were assassinated (2 Kings 15:8–31). Some of these kings made overtures to the far more powerful Assyrian Empire in order to secure their own positions, effectively turning Israel into a client state of Assyria (vv. 17–21). When Israel eventually revolted, Assyria invaded and took the Israelites into exile in 722 BC (17:1–6).

From God’s perspective, idolatry was the fundamental problem. The Lord sent Hosea to Israel both to warn the people against foreign alliances and, more importantly, to denounce the ethical violations and syncretistic worship of the northern kingdom (Hos. 4; 8:4, 9–10). Hosea preached “doom and gloom” (9:16–17) as he warned Israel that God would reject them and hand them over to Assyria. Nevertheless, the prophet also had words of hope for the faithful remnant of Israel. Destruction would come, but there would be an incredible restoration on the other side of exile (1:10–11; 2:14–23).

The Lord called Hosea to serve by commanding him to marry “a wife of whoredom”—Gomer. In so doing, Hosea acted out the relationship between God and His people Israel, who had committed spiritual adultery by leaving her husband, Yahweh, for lovers in the form of false gods (1:2; 2:1–13). Yet despite Israel’s cheating ways, the Lord did not give up on His bride. God sent Hosea to woo Israel back to Him and to warn the covenant community that adultery would lead only to its ruin.

Hosea 1-8

Hosea 1-8…The Redemption of Gomer.

Hosea alludes to the original exodus from Egypt in these verses, a time when Israel served the Lord gladly. Appealing to an idealized Israel of the first exodus was not unusual for the prophets even if the wilderness generation also had its share of disobedience (Jer. 2:2–3; Micah 7:15; see Ex. 32; Num. 11). Still, Hosea’s appeal to this period as one of covenant faithfulness is fully appropriate. Measured against the rampant idolatry of Hosea’s day, the Israelites who left Egypt were saints. Moreover, despite the wilderness generation’s sins, the people of Israel made steady, if slow, progress toward Canaan. Yet during Hosea’s ministry, Israel was rapidly regressing into paganism.

As in the days of the first exodus, Hosea foresaw that Israel would answer when the Lord called during the restoration period. A new covenant would follow in which Israel would be safe from wild animals and foreign adversaries (Hos. 2:18). Instead of idolatry and disobedience, Israel would be true to her husband, Yahweh, in faithfulness, righteousness, justice, steadfast love, and mercy (v. 19). The people would no longer worship the Lord falsely; they would no longer associate the worship of the false god Baal with the worship of the covenant lord of Israel, the only true God (vv. 16–17).

Hosea acted out the hope of a new exodus by redeeming Gomer from her illegitimate lover. In like manner, the Lord would fulfill this new exodus by loving and rescuing Israel out of its bondage to foreign deities and false worship, symbolized here by the cakes of raisins offered to other gods (3:1). Yet though this restoration would come, the relationship between God and Israel would for a time not be all that it could be. Upon redeeming Gomer, Hosea would live with her “for many days” without enjoying all the benefits of marriage, including sexual intimacy (vv. 2–3). This foresaw the time in which Israel would be in exile and have a distant relationship with the Lord, one in which the people would not enjoy the benefits of sacrifice, temple, and more (v. 4). Exile and life outside of Canaan was coming, but it would not last forever (v. 5).

Daniel

Daniel Overview (Ch 1-12)

“Dare to be a Daniel.” “Slay the Goliath in your life.” “Conquer your own Canaanites.”

As a Christian, have you heard a phrase like this before?

Christians with a basic knowledge of the Bible know it is full of stories of people who have done great things in the service of God. They’ve heard of these men and women of renown in sermons, in Sunday school, in vacation Bible schools. But perhaps you have wondered: is there nothing more to the Bible than these tales of bravery and heroism? Isn’t there more to the Bible than mighty heroes carrying out mighty works for God? What about God saving sinners? Is there hope for the very un-heroic among us?

If you have ever asked questions like this you are not alone. Throughout the twentieth century many pastors and theologians began to ask the simple, yet profound question: if the Bible is nothing more than a continuous narrative of faithful human examples for us to emulate, where is the gospel in all of this? Surely Christianity is more than “Dare to be a Daniel.”

There is something very important in these questions. They get at the heart of how Jesus Himself commanded that we read the whole Bible; namely, as being about Him. We see this in Luke 24:44-47 (among other places):

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
The whole Bible—from start to finish—is about Jesus (v. 44). In particular, it is about His suffering, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins (vv. 46-47). That means that the whole Bible is about the gospel, the good news that God saves sinners in Christ Jesus. Unless we come to terms with what Jesus is saying in this passage, what we say about human examples of faithfulness in the Bible will turn into mere moralism. What it means to be a believer will be answered with nothing more than “Be brave like Daniel,” “Be valiant like David,” etc.

But what about those examples?

What should we do with all of those figures in the Bible who have done mighty deeds in the service of God? What, if anything, can we learn from them? Should we ever ask the questions “What would David do?” “What would Joshua do?” “What would Paul do?” Even: “What would Jesus do?”

A danger lurks for those who have (rightly) come to read the whole Bible as speaking of Jesus and the salvation He has accomplished. The danger is this: that we fail to do justice to another vitally important biblical mandate, that of following the examples of those who have gone before us in the faith.

The fact that we must read the Bible in a way that pays attention to its human examples is not mere speculation. The warrant for reading the Bible this way can be seen in the numerous ways the New Testament itself uses exemplary figures from the Old Testament.

Consider two foundational texts:

1) Hebrews 11: in this chapter the author recounts for us over twenty examples of believers in the Old Testament who had faith in God and thus “received their commendation” (11:2). Genuine faith is what made Abel’s sacrifice, rather than Cain’s, acceptable to God (11:4); faith led Noah to build, and eventually enter, the ark and thus be saved from God’s judgment (11:7); faith taught Abraham to look away from the things of this world and to fix his eyes on “the city that has foundations” (11:10), that is, on the heavenly inheritance that God had prepared for him; faith caused Moses to leave the luxuries of Pharaoh’s court, which are described as “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (11:25), because “he considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (11:26).

In all of the examples in Hebrews 11 the central point is the same: faith in God is the only mode of living appropriate for those who, like Abraham (and like all believers down through the ages), have not yet “received the things promised” by God (11:13), and who must therefore patiently wait in faith for a “better country, that is, a heavenly one” (11:16). Indeed, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (11:6).

2) 1 Corinthians 10: the New Testament, however, does not simply give us positive examples from the Old Testament to emulate. It also presents us with negative examples that must be avoided. 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 provides us with a particularly striking instance of this. In this text, which recounts part of Israel’s wilderness wandering as narrated in Exodus and Numbers, we read that “these things took place as examples for us” (1 Cor 10:6). The story that Paul is referring to is that of Israel’s grumbling and rebellion against Moses, and ultimately against God. Paul lists four things in particular that believers should learn from the bad example of Israel in the wilderness: that we must not become “idolaters as some of them were” (10:7); that “we should not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did” (10:8); that “we must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did” (10:9); and finally, that we should “not grumble, as some of them did” (10:10). Each of these sins against God grew out of hearts “set on evil things” (10:6 NIV). In each instance God’s judgment was death (10:5, 8, 9, 10).

Attempting to discern how we can follow the examples of earlier saints (and avoid the examples of those who were unbelieving), then, must be just as much a part of our biblical reading strategy as is our attempt to see the whole Bible as testifying to the accomplishment of our redemption by Jesus Christ alone.

How should we do this? Thankfully the New Testament shows us how, and it shows us that an exemplary approach to the Bible is gospel-centered too.

The main principle is this: the examples from the Old Testament that we are told to follow are examples of those who had faith in God and who acted on that faith.

This is the whole point of Hebrews 11: faith leads God’s people to look to their heavenly reward and therefore act with bold confidence in God during their earthly sojourns. How should we respond to these examples? We, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” must “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,” and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2). In other words, we should follow the example of the saints of old as they too looked forward to heaven in faith and hope. It should mightily strengthen and encourage us to learn of the countless ways in which God’s people have been able to look to God’s saving grace and thereby find strength to remain near to him by faith during their earthly pilgrimages (Heb 11:13). Following their examples is as far from moralism as is possible. God has been faithful to save his people during all generations, and he has left us a record of this in the Bible to help us on our way to our heavenly home.

Alternatively, with negative examples, like those in 1 Corinthians 10, we are warned of the dangers of hardening our hearts in unbelief, of allowing sin to deceive us into “setting our hearts on evil things” (10:6 NIV). Those among the Israelites who—despite the privilege of being apart of God’s covenant community (1 Cor 10:1-4)—rebelled against God in unbelief were judged and punished by him. “These things happened to them as an example” and “were written down for our instruction” (1 Cor 10:11) so that “anyone who thinks that he stands” might “take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). In other words, we have the reverse of Hebrews 11: an example of unbelief, given to warn believers of the dangers of sin. Pride comes before the fall, and God keeps us near to him by showing us what would happen if we abandoned our trust in him. While none of God’s elect will ever be lost (John 10:28-29; Eph 1:3-14; etc.), this can never give us grounds for sinfully presuming that we are secure in this life apart from clinging to Christ by faith every day.

In sum, the New Testament has much to say about following the example of those in the Old Testament, whether positively or negatively. Looking at these kinds of texts gives us an appreciation for the variety of ways the Bible urges believers to pursue holiness. Sometimes holiness is urged because of the blessings and true joy found in walking faithfully before the Lord (Psalm 1; Matt 5:3-10); sometimes through warnings of God’s future judgment on the unrepentant (1 Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21; Heb 10:26-31); sometimes, as in texts such as Hebrews 11 and 1 Corinthians 10, holiness is commended to God’s people through examples that set forth the positive or negative responses of people in the Old Testament to God. The latter of these motivations sometimes gets a bad rap because it is feared that pointing to examples will lead to moralism or a quest for self-salvation. Far from it: God alone saves, and He saves by faith alone. The only faith that saves is true faith, that is, a living and active faith (James 2:17), and this is precisely the kind of faith displayed in Hebrews 11 (and that is absent among the Israelites in the texts Paul recounts in 1 Corinthians 10).

Ezekiel 46-48

Ezekiel 46-48…The Lord is There.

Today we conclude our overview of the book of Ezekiel. As part of the group of Judah’s leading citizens that was carried off into exile along with King Jehoiachin in 597/598 BC, Ezekiel was called to reach a people who had a hard time believing Jerusalem and the temple could ever fall fully and finally. God called the prophet to use vivid, symbolic language and actions to convince the Jews in Babylon of His intent to destroy Jerusalem and the temple because of the people’s impenitent idolatry (Ezekiel 1–10). Though there was always a faithful remnant of Israel and Judah consisting of men such as Ezekiel, the nation as a whole had become a useless vine, a fruitless planting because it obeyed false prophets and committed spiritual adultery (11–24). However, the prophet’s message was not only doom and gloom, for the exiles still had reason to hope. Those who realized that they remained in Babylon because of their own impenitence could be forgiven by forsaking their evil and returning to the Lord. In fact, Ezekiel promised that God would finally accomplish this restoration by giving His people new hearts and filling them with His Spirit (25–39).

With the people restored, the Lord would return to dwell among His people in an earth renewed by His bestowal of life-giving water (40–47). The formerly unholy people would be made holy fully and finally. This is what is communicated in today’s passage, which describes the specific territories given to the twelve tribes of Israel in the restoration period. It is best to interpret these not as literal land grants, given the symbolism of this final section of Ezekiel, but as metaphors pointing to the fact that the full number of God’s people will be saved. No one chosen for kingdom citizenship will be left without an inheritance; the salvation of our God will create a complete nation just as the full nation of Israel consists of all twelve tribes of the reunified Israel and Judah (48:29). At the very center of this kingdom are the priests and the prince, for that is where their land exists (vv. 8–14; vv. 21–22). Finally and most incredibly, this restoration will be a permanent state of affairs. God puts His name on the central city of the renewed nation: “The LORD is There” (v. 35).

It would take a fuller revelation of our Creator’s plan and purpose to see the means by which the Lord would bring all these things to pass. God, prince, and priest would stand at the center of the Lord’s new people because the Almighty Himself would take on a human nature in order to be the perfect prince and priest for His elect (John 1:1–18; Heb. 7:23–25).

Ezekiel 43-45

Ezekiel 43-45…The Glory of the Lord

Speaking to His old covenant people in terms they could understand, God inspired the prophet Ezekiel to describe a future temple that would be built when the Lord brought the people back to their land. As noted in yesterday’s study, various features of this structure indicate that God never meant for Israel to build the temple Ezekiel spoke of. Instead, the vision was a metaphorical way of telling the exiles that life in the restoration would recall the glory days of Solomon and his magnificent temple in Jerusalem. Though there had been much suffering in exile, God would resurrect the nation and bless it in a manner that would far surpass anything it had yet experienced.

Ezekiel 43:1–12 confirms this in the prophet’s vision of the Creator’s glory filling the new post-exilic temple. In the Old Testament, the phrase glory of the LORD often describes the visible manifestation of the divine presence as an overwhelming cloud that signifies God’s approval. For example, the glory cloud filled Solomon’s temple, conveying to the people that the Lord was pleased with the structure and would meet there with His people (2 Chron. 7:1–3). This cloud is exactly what Ezekiel saw in the vision he describes in today’s passage.

The prophet’s original audience must have found this vision particularly encouraging. Recall that earlier in his ministry, Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord leave the temple, signifying the withdrawal of His protection from Jerusalem, His judgment on the people, and the coming fall of the city to Babylon (Ezek. 10–11). Would God abandon His people forever? This was the question that this original vision provoked. The vision of the glory’s return represents a resounding “no.” For His own name sake, to prove that He had not lied when He promised to bless Abraham, the Lord had to return (36:16–38; see Gen. 15). God did not have to save anyone, but once He made a covenant with the patriarch, He was bound by His own nature to keep His promises. Thus, Matthew Henry comments, “Though God may forsake his people for a small moment, he will return with everlasting loving-kindness.”

As God’s glory had departed to the east, it would return to the temple from the east (Ezek. 43:4). In its return, it would purify the nation. Following the restoration from exile, the nation would no longer practice harlotry, that is, idolatry. Neither would it venerate deceased kings (vv. 6–9). The return would be a new start with a cleansed people not marked by the sins that sent them and their forefathers into exile in the first place.

Ezekiel 37-42

Ezekiel 37-42…A New Temple.

Let us take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of the exiles to whom Ezekiel first addressed his prophecy. These people knew their ancestral history, how God saved them from Egypt and dwelt with them in a beautiful tabernacle (Ex. 26; 40). Moreover, they remembered the glorious temple in Jerusalem, a structure so impressive and important that the Bible devotes eighteen chapters to its layout, construction, and dedication, and the appointment of its workers (2 Sam. 24; 1 Kings 5–8; 1 Chron. 21–26; 28; 2 Chron. 2–7). This temple was built at the height of Israel’s prosperity and power under King Solomon.

Now, let us put ourselves in God’s shoes as He was seeking to communicate with the exiles. Here was a disheartened people who had been told that the Lord left the temple and thus the Promised Land, enabling the Babylonians to capture Judah (Ezek. 10). Furthermore, this people had been told that their exile manifested God’s wrath (16:1–58). Because of their great loss, they believed that restoration would never come, that their suffering meant the Lord’s promises were hollow (33:10). If you were God, how would you communicate the glory of the restoration in terms this audience could understand?

Today’s passage answers this question as Ezekiel begins to describe the restored temple and city of Jerusalem. The prophet foresees a new temple that certainly would have brought the glories of Solomon’s age to the exiles’ minds. Some people today believe that Israel will one day build a structure on Mt. Zion with the precise dimensions that Ezekiel reveals in chapters 40–48. We respectfully disagree. First, as we have seen, Ezekiel’s work often uses vivid metaphors that are not meant to be exact descriptions. Second, the temple’s dimensions appear symbolic. Multiples of five appear throughout, and the temple complex is a perfect cube, unlike Solomon’s temple. This indicates that Ezekiel has the theological message of his vision chiefly in mind, not simply the size of its walls. Finally and notably, the Jews who returned to the Promised Land after the exile were never condemned for not building Ezekiel’s temple. They were rebuked for dawdling when it came to reconstructing God’s house, but they were never told to construct what Ezekiel describes (Hag. 1:1–11).

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Ezekiel describes the glory of the restoration in terms familiar to his original audience. God was speaking a language the exiles could understand in order to convince them of His good intentions.

Ezekiel 33-36

Ezekiel 33-36…God-centered focus.

Human beings in their fallen condition struggle to take their focus off of themselves and put it on God where it belongs. We easily recognize this when we see people unashamedly try to amass glory for themselves. But the tendency to make people big and God small often shows itself with such subtlety that we miss it. This is evident in how we tend to understand salvation. Often we believe that our Creator undertook redemption principally for our sake, that our rescue was the fundamental goal in sending His Son to die for sinners. Certainly, we would not want to deny that the Lord fulfilled His great plan of salvation because of His great love for humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). However, at the end of the day, our salvation is primarily for the Lord’s sake—for His glory.

Ezekiel 36:16–38 reveals this truth plainly. God says in verse 22 that His rescue of Israel from sin and exile is not for the nation’s sake but “the sake of [His] holy name.” The implication is that the Lord had to save His people to keep His honor. But how can this be if the Bible teaches that salvation is wholly undeserved, that nothing in us requires God to redeem us?

The answer is that salvation is the Lord’s self-imposed obligation. He freely covenanted with Abraham and His seed, but He did so via swearing an oath by Himself that He would bless the patriarch’s family forever (Gen. 15; Heb. 6:13–20). Essentially, God said that He should be destroyed if He broke His promise. By His own will, the Lord made His honor contingent upon blessing Abraham. If all the patriarch’s offspring were to miss this blessing, He would prove to be a liar and suffer the loss of His glory. The Lord did not have to make a vow to Abraham, but once He did, His own character bound Him to bless the patriarch’s offspring, though not necessarily everyone who can trace their physical ancestry back to him.

Lest anyone rightly accuse God of not being true to His word of salvation, Israel’s exile would have to end. Ezekiel foresaw this end of exile, predicting that the Lord would rescue His people from the nations, cleanse them from sin, and give them new hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:23–32). God would likewise compromise His character if, in redeeming His people, He allowed them to remain unholy, for those who bear Yahweh’s name must be a holy nation (Ex. 19:6). The Lord revealed His sovereign work of regeneration in this vision, for He alone would be the one to change the hearts of His people.

Ezekiel 24-32

Ezekiel 24-32…Ezekiel’s Wife

Of the titles that are used for Jesus in the New Testament, Son of Man is our Lord’s favorite designation for Himself. It appears on His lips more often than any other title, including Lord and Christ. Biblical scholars have long considered the significance of this in light of the Old Testament. We will see in the next few weeks that the main reason Jesus used this title was to identify Himself as the one to whom the Father would deliver an everlasting kingdom, namely, the cosmic ruler revealed in Daniel 7:13–14. However, that may not be the sole reason He preferred that title. Note that the Lord often addresses the prophet Ezekiel as “son of man.” In fact, God uses the title for him in today’s passage. Ezekiel was a prophet and a “son of man,” so it could be that Jesus also used Son of Man to reveal His prophetic office. After all, the incarnate Word of God preached God’s Word to His disciples just as Ezekiel preached God’s Word to his generation.

Those whom the Lord calls to ministry often must give up things that they would ordinarily hold dear. Jesus was called to lay down His life and suffer the divine curse on sin (Gal. 3:10–14). Ezekiel suffered the loss of his wife. God came to the prophet and told him his wife was going to die but that he should not engage in any of the customary mourning practices, which would have involved wearing sackcloth, lying on the ground, throwing ashes on one’s head, and so on. Instead, he was to don a turban, that is, wear the garments of celebration (Ezek. 24:15–18). This was a great loss indeed to the prophet, for the Lord refers to her as the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes. To not mourn for her would be a great sacrifice for him and cause great pain to his heart in addition to her death.

Such a death seems to be a drastic, almost “desperate” step for the Lord to take to get His point across. Of course, in reality, God never finds Himself in a desperate situation. But from a human perspective, the covenant community’s refusal to believe that the Lord would let Jerusalem fall was a desperate situation, and desperate times required desperate measures. The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and temple, however, all would be for the good of Israel (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.