76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 60 - The double vision of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
April 15th, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
One of the reasons why Ezekiel was concerned with the priesthood and its function was knowledge that priests had not lived up to their duties to lead the people in the path of righteousness. This charge had been leveled against them before, and it was one of the reasons why the Hebrew kingdoms had perished. But now, declared Ezekiel, Jehovah Himself would care for His own. The picture of the shepherd and his flock, aglow with the love which Jehovah has for His people, presents one of the most beautiful and significant passages in the Jewish religion and has the deepest meaning for the Church of the New Birth, with the Messiah, spoken of here as the Lord’s Servant, David, lovingly seeking out, and feeding with eternal life, the sheep of the Father’s flock:
“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad; so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them … into their land, and I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the watercourse, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture; and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be; they shall lie down in a good fold; and on fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountain of Israel. I myself will be the Shepherd of my sheep, and I shall cause them to lie down, saith the Lord Jehovah. I will seek that which is lost, and will bring back that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. … And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will be their God, and my servant David, prince among them. I, Jehovah, have spoken it.”
(Ezekiel 34: 11 - 24)
The passage has various meanings: To the exiled Hebrews of Babylonia, it meant a promise of a return to Israel with God Himself preparing the way and ensuring a homeland protected by His Zeal; but it also meant a homeland beyond your mortal life on earth. For the mountains of Israel, for the pious Jew, meant a place of holiness out of this earth, and the fields and watercourses signified the waters of eternal life. The 23rd Psalm, with its vision of future happiness in the life beyond, under God’s protecting Love, was inspired, so I have already written, by these words of Ezekiel. The passage was also a promise of the coming of the Messiah. Restoration of Jerusalem was to take place through the workings of God Himself, but thereafter He would appoint a prince among them, His servant David, to be their shepherd.
I have spoken with Ezekiel about these matters, and he tells me that, in his writings, material and spiritual meanings were often possible in the same paragraphs. This was because he was a man of concrete thought through which spiritual content was projected.
Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones, he states, was physical in nature, but that the spiritual message gave it the meaning that, at the time the resurrection was to take place, a new world order would have emerged from the material world in which men had been living. He thought the resurrection, then, was possible on earth, having in this “world to come” spiritual qualities unknown to his own times. He also told me that, for this reason, many Biblical students have insisted upon an earthly and physical resurrection of the body, but that the vision, like many of those which came from God, could take on, and did, various meanings with the passing ages, as new insights into God’s meaning were discovered. People in those days, and prophets themselves, he declares, were not amenable to meanings that indicated a spirit life, and messages from God were directed to amelioration of the moral and ethical life of the nation and the individual with continuance of sin a cause for destruction through God’s wrath, and restoration a material reward for righteous behavior. The valley of dry bones thus had to mean, originally, a place on earth, but the time element was so far removed that Ezekiel felt he did not need to be concerned with it, and it was only that the place and time preoccupied succeeding generations, who understood more about the spiritual locale implied in the vision. In the same way passages concerning David, the servant of God, seems confusing at first because Ezekiel used the term to mean different things: in one case, a descendant of David ruling a material kingdom; again, David himself ruling a nation in the spirit world, and finally, the Messiah himself. The prophecies written before the fall of Jerusalem make David the ruler of the restored material nation, but those that were made after 586 B.C., refer to a more spiritual David, or prince of the House of David.
In conclusion I should like to state that it was Ezekiel who brought full measure to the principle of individual responsibility, which had previously been expounded by Jeremiah. An innocent son was not to be punished with a guilty father. This concept, found in various statements (Numbers 16: 22 or Deuteronomy 24: 16), of which Jeremiah was very much aware, was one which David as king could never have agreed to, and in fact, he acted in a contrary sense. But the passing of 400 years or more brought to full understanding and acceptance of individual, rather than family, innocence or guilt.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens