When the driver of a huge trailer lost control of his rig, he plowed into an empty tollbooth and smashed it to pieces. He climbed down from the wreckage and within a matter of minutes, a truck pulled up and discharged a crew of workers.
The men picked up each broken piece of the former tollbooth and spread some kind of creamy substance on it. Then they began fitting the pieces together. In less than a half hour, they had the entire tollbooth reconstructed and looking good as new.
"Astonishing!" the truck driver said to the crew chief. "What was the white stuff you used to get all the pieces together?"
The crew chief said, "Oh, that was tollgate booth paste."
It is difficult to understand the caldron of the Middle East without first studying the remarkable prophecies found in the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was among the captives with King Jehoiachin in the second of three deportations under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He mentions Daniel three times, who had been in Babylon nine years before Ezekiel arrived. Ezekiel ministered, as did Jeremiah, to a nation experiencing judgment for their sins. In his captivity he lived at the River Chebar, which was the great ship canal branching off from the Euphrates above Babylon and turning through Nippur to the Tigris. This was the primary settlement location of the Jewish captives.
Ezekiel was born in approximately 627 B.C. and lived in a time of moral decline, distress and uprooting. His messages were not well received at first, but did ultimately result in the nation being purged of idolatrous practices. He was married and owned his home. His wife died during his ministry, and he was forbidden to mourn her.
We also learn that God intended his life to be a series of signs to Israel; therefore, he does all kinds of strange things. He shuts himself up in his home. He binds himself. He is struck dumb. In a formal ritual, he was to lie on his right and his left sides for a total of 430 days. He ate bread that was prepared in an unclean manner. He shaved his head and beard, which was considered a shame in his particular calling.
Throughout the book, his main theme was the sovereignty and glory of God. This is good for us, because we can get so focused on God’s grace that we tend to forget there is also a governing role of God, and that His glory requires justice.
Ezekiel was very direct. He carefully vindicated God’s justice throughout the book, although he deals more in symbol and allegory that any other Old Testament prophet. He is probably the greatest mystic of the Old Testament. He was well suited for the calling God gave him, which included a remarkable vision of God's Throne in Chapter 1. This dramatic vision of God never left him. It is not just introduced in the first chapter, it is referenced all the way through.
The Prophet of the Regathering
The famed vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones in Chapters 36 and 37 is unquestionably the monumental Biblical fulfillment of the 20th century. Beginning in the last half of the 19th century, the regathering that climaxed in the establishment of the State of Israel is one of the most irrefutable evidences that we are on threshold of God's climax for the nations mentioned throughout the Bible - and remarkably detailed in the writings of Ezekiel.
The final chapters, 40-48, climax with a remarkably detailed description of the Millennial Temple to be rebuilt. Ezekiel was uniquely qualified for this role due to his priestly background. He was the son of Buzi, who was also a priest. It is interesting that even though he never served as a priest, he apparently so influenced later worship that today he is called by some, "The Father of Judaism." From Numbers 4:3 we know that Kohathites had to be 30 years old before they could begin service as priests. When Ezekiel became 30, however, he was deported, in approximately the eightieth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The Temple which Ezekiel describes has never yet been built. Most scholars regard it as the details for the Temple which will be established during the Millennium on Planet Earth.
Between the regathering of the nation in Chapters 36 and 37, and the Millennium Temple described in Chapters 40-48, there is a climactic event that intervenes. The invasion of Gog and Magog, described in Chapters 38 and 39, are among the most famous prophetic passages in the Bible. For a variety of reasons, the identity of "Magog" as the people of Russia seems well established.
If you were invited to a reception that would bring you into contact with a world-famous author, you would, of course, run out and quickly review his book to avoid any embarrassment. Well, you may soon be in the company of one of the most fascinating characters of the Old Testament, and when you are introduced to him, you will want to be able to declare, "Hey, I sure enjoyed your book!"