The Key to Ezekiel’s First Thirty Chapters -- By: Allan A. MacRae

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:487 (Jul 1965)
Article: The Key to Ezekiel’s First Thirty Chapters
Author: Allan A. MacRae

The Key to Ezekiel’s First Thirty Chapters

Allan A. MacRae

[Allan A. MacRae, President, Faith Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.]

Ezekiel is one of the Bible’s most neglected books. This is because its full understanding requires an appreciation of the situation in which Ezekiel was involved. Another reason for widespread avoidance of the Book of Ezekiel is the impression that its first chapter gives of being extraordinarily symbolical and quite remote from normal human experience. A few people spend considerable time studying the last chapters of Ezekiel and the marvelous prophecies of the distant future that these chapters contain, but many of them pay little attention to the first two-thirds of the book. If the key to Ezekiel’s first thirty chapters is firmly grasped, every Christian can derive much blessing from the study of the entire book.

The historic background of every book of the Bible is important. Seldom, if ever, did a prophet simply retire into an ivory tower to receive messages from the Lord that would be of great value for people hundreds of years in the future, but would have no immediate purpose except to satisfy curiosity. Sometimes it is said that the prophet was not a foreteller but a forthteller. This statement is a half-truth. The half-truth that it emphasizes is important but the denial that it contains is definitely wrong. The prophet’s work was not primarily one of predicting what would happen in the future, but rather of giving his own people the message that God desired them to have. However, in most cases this also included a certain amount of telling what would happen in the future. It is true that the prophet is primarily a forthteller rather than a foreteller, but it is equally true that foretelling occupied

a great part in the activity of every prophet who was truly a forthteller of the message of God to His people. Man cannot predict the future. Therefore, the prophet’s ability to predict the future is one of the best proofs of the fact that God is speaking. In addition, future prediction frequently plays an important part in showing God’s people what He wants them to do immediately.

The Book of Ezekiel has a definite chronological structure, which begins with its second verse. The first verse contains a rather cryptic statement: “It came to pass in the thirtieth year.” It is reasonable to conjecture that this means the thirtieth year of Ezekiel’s life—the time at which, if he were still at Jerusalem, this priest would have begun to function as an active servant of the Lord. Though there may be disagreement as to the meaning of this particular statement, it does not much affect the meaning of the book, beca...

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