Background: Ezekiel was one of many people removed from Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 597 B.C. See 2 Kings 24:10-16. God called him to be a prophet to the people of Judah in their captivity near Babylon, and even to those who stayed behind in Judah. He has many messages of judgment – even predicting the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. But he also has many messages of hope for the future. Ezekiel’s work in some places seems to parallel Jeremiah’s, and their ministries overlapped – Jeremiah being older. Unlike Jeremiah, Ezekiel’s work is arranged chronologically.
The opening vision: Ezekiel 1:4- Four creatures, four faces, four wings. The four faces: Human, Lion, Ox, and Eagle. The vision is revisited later in the book. More on this later.
Called to be a prophet: Ezekiel 2:1-10. Ezekiel has to speak whether they hear it or not. This is a reminder God’s standards for his servants is only faithfulness. Our success is not measured by worldly means, but by our obedience to the commands of God. Ezekiel 3:16-21 emphasizes the importance of the prophetic office, and what is truly at stake. Unfaithful prophets are as much a part of the problem as the rebellious. Failure to take the message forward puts blood guilt on the prophet! We may not be Old Testament-style prophets, but we are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ, Acts 1:8, and we should take it just as seriously. God was sending him to stubborn people, but He would equip Ezekiel for the task, Ezekiel 3:7-9.
Key Words: Rebellious. Word.
“And you shall know that I am the Lord.” This is a recurring theme in Ezekiel. God is doing what He is doing to make Himself known – the kindest thing that He can do for mankind.
The siege and destruction of Jerusalem: Ezekiel 4 accounts an interesting object lesson regarding the siege of Jerusalem. Ezekiel must state clearly over and over again that Jerusalem was going to fall. False prophets were saying that the exile would be very short, Ezekiel 13, Jeremiah 28:10-17, but part of Ezekiel’s job was to bring the truth. Ezekiel even does an object lesson illustrating the exile through the broken walls of Jerusalem. The Lord even has him to cover his eyes so he cannot see just as Zedekiah was blinded before being taken into captivity, Ezekiel 12:1-16; 2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 52:11.
Ezekiel 11:23 – Immediately after announcing the New Covenant, the glory of the Lord departs from Jerusalem and rests on the mountain on the east side of the city. This is the Mount of Olives. The glory of the Lord indeed departed the temple and never returned until Jesus came – who usually came into Jerusalem from the East – the Mount of Olives. See Luke 19:41-44.
A remnant will be preserved: Ezekiel 5:1-12 accounts God’s plans for the people of Jerusalem: 1/3 would die by pestilence and famine; 1/3 would die by the sword; and 1/3 would be scattered. But there would be a remnant preserved. In Ezekiel 9:4, we see God’s care for the faithful.
Idolatry: Idolatry ultimately ends in death, Ezekiel 6:5. The foolishness of inventing a religion instead of seeking the truth results in vanity and brings the wrath of God. God gives an account of the priests, the leaders of Israel, and even the women are worshiping false Gods, Ezekiel 8. This would be particularly disturbing to Ezekiel, a priest.
Background: John, also known as the “disciple that Jesus loved,” is not only one of the twelve, but one of the inner three with Peter and James. It is thought that he wrote this around A.D. 85. John give the purpose of his gospel in John 20:30, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
The Deity of Christ: John’s gospel was written significantly later than the other gospels, so it meets head-on some heresies that were already developing around Christianity. One of the chief of these was questioning the divinity of Christ – that is, the fact that He is fully God.
The Word was God: John 1:1-3 opens the gospel similarly to Genesis 1:1, and makes a profound statement about Jesus right off the bat, plainly saying that He was (is) God.
I am: One of the most provocative things Jesus says to assert his deity is simply enough “I am.” In Greek, to say “I am” requires just the verb because the form of the verb tells whether it is 1st, 2nd, 3rd person and if it’s plural. So to say “I am” is one word, eimi (εἰμί). But Jesus uses two words, ego (ἐγώ) which means “I” plus eimi (εἰμί) which means “I am.” In Greek, this forms an emphatic form, like saying, “I myself” However, in Exodus 3:14, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this is exactly how God introduces himself to Moses from the Hebrew, yahweh! If you doubt that Jesus was doing this on purpose, just look at the reaction of His opposition, John 8:58-59. Jesus says “I am” the bread of life, John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; the light of the world, John 8:12; the door, John 10:9, 11; the good shepherd, John 10:14; the resurrection and the life, John 11:25; the way, and the truth, and the life, John 14:6; the true vine, John 15:1-5. You’ll find more than those, but those are among the most profound.
Blasphemy: The Jewish leaders that opposed Jesus clearly understood His claims to deity. This was what inspired them to try to kill him in John 5:18, John 8:58-59 and John 10:30-39. For those who claim that Jesus is not God, they must come to grips with the fact that claiming to be God was the charge against him that ultimately gave him the death sentence, Matthew 26:53-58; Mark 14:61-65. If Jesus claimed to be God but was not, it would be blasphemy, and would earn him the death sentence, Leviticus 24:16. So if we say that Jesus was not God, then the Jewish leadership was right to put him to death! Either He was God or He was a criminal.
Miracles: Jesus’ miracles also show His divine nature. There are seven major miracles accounted in the book of John each one serving a purpose. These come to a climax at the raising of Lazarus, John 11, and then his ultimate miracle – raising himself from the dead, John 10:17-18.
The Trinity: God exists eternally in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The gospel of John is one of the best places to go to see this truth. John clearly establishes that Jesus is God in John 1, and continues to develop that truth throughout by showing his credentials. Jesus then speaks of the Holy Spirit extensively throughout John 14-16, referring to the Spirit clearly as a person, “he.” In introducing the topic, Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” John 14:16. The word “another” here clearly indicates another of the same kind as Jesus. He as going away, but was sending another like himself to be with the disciples. This of course is the Holy Spirit. Prove the divinity of Jesus, the show the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and voila, you have a Holy Trinity!
Faith / Believe: Look for (and circle if not opposed) the words believe and faith in all forms in the book of John; it is a key concept. It is in John’s stated purpose, John 20:30, the purpose of John the Baptist, John 1:7, in an early formula for salvation, John 1:12, and in the most famous verse of the book, John 3:16. Keep looking! It’s everywhere! It occurs 8 times in chapter 3 alone! How many other times can you find?
Life: Another word to track is It is also part of John’s stated purpose in John 20:30. What seems to be the connection between life and faith/believing?
Psalm 82: Have you considered what it means to pray, :Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!”? That indeed is a weighty thing. How will those in Christ fare in the judgment? Notice also Psalm 82:2-4. What New Testament letter did we recently read that these verses remind you of?
Psalm 83: Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, but he probably did not have in mind Psalms like this. We should always pray first for our enemies salvation. Of course, if they won’t be saved, how can they still glorify God? Hint: See Psalm 83:17-18.
Psalm 136: A key word here is obviously “steadfast love,” or “lovingkindness.” This is the Hebrew Hesed, meaning goodness, kindness. It’s more than love, it’s active and enduring. This would make a good song, wouldn’t it? Like many Psalms, this recounts God’s works and encourages thanks.