For an introduction to this series, click here.
Oct. 1, 2006
Here is another difficult passage. In the first part of his book, Ezekiel paints a bleaker picture than any of the other prophets. Isaiah prophesies about the future destruction, but right beside it he tells of a glorious future. Where Isaiah emphasizes Israel's future earthly kingdom, Jeremiah emphasizes the spiritual revival coming for Israel. He speaks often of the new heart that God will give Israel. Ezekiel has no positive message. He says doom is coming, it is unavoidable, and here is the reason why. Chapter 16 is unflinchingly graphic as it describes Israel's worship of idols as whoredom. Sometimes you will see some person's web page defending their own sin from criticism from Christians by listing verses from the Bible that are violently or sexually explicit, and you will often see verses from this chapter quoted, or misquoted, as the case may be.
Anyway, one passage that has always fascinated me is 14:12-23. I will quote one verse here, but read the whole passage for yourself. God lists all the destruction he will bring upon Jerusalem, and then if anyone thinks they are righteous enough to escape God's wrath, He says:
Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son or daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness. (14:20, ESV)
This verse makes the fourth time Ezekiel had mentioned those three names as being the only possible survivors of Jerusalem's destruction. What always strikes me about this passage is the fact that Noah and Job had been dead for at least 1,000 years by this point, but Daniel was probably still alive. Since Ezekiel is writing this book primarily to the Jews of the captivity, they would doubtless be familiar with Daniel, which makes this an all the more impressive endorsement of Daniel's character. I will get to Daniel more when we get to his book. For now, from this reference alone, we can assume that he was well-known throughout the world, and that he was already considered in the same league with Noah and Job as examples of righteousness. I don't want to waste all my good stuff about him before we get to his book, so I'll stop after saying that Daniel is a good example that God can use anyone in any position who is willing to trust Him.