Warren Wiersbe has written a “Be” series commenting on almost every book of the Bible. The individual books cover more than a study Bible would, but they are not as in-depth as some commentaries. They are good study aides. Wiersbe gives background information, word meanings, different interpretations for passages as well as his reasons for the interpretation he chooses, and applications for modern-day believers. His style is easy to read.
The books are available in paperback, but I often see a few at a time on Kindle app sales for 99 cents to $1.99. I’ve collected most of them, but, I’m sorry to say, they stayed tucked away and forgotten in my app.
Our church has been reading trough Ezekiel for the last several weeks. Ezekiel is known for having some of the toughest passages in all of Scripture to understand and interpret, so I figured perhaps a bit more help than my study Bible might be needed.
Wiersbe sets the theme for Ezekiel right in the title: Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God. Judah had been taken over by the Babylonians, and most of the nation was sent to Babylon in three different deportations. God had called Jeremiah to warn the people before the kingdom fell to Babylon. He called Ezekiel to preach to the people in Babylon.
Many prophets would act out object lessons for the people. But Ezekiel seems to have been given not only the most of what the ESV Study Bible calls “street theater” messages, but also the most unusual. Wiersbe calls them “actions sermons.”
One of our former pastors taught that many of the prophets prophesied during the same era, and one reason was that different people responded to different personalities. Some may have thought Ezekiel a little weird or might have been uncomfortable watching him, but others would have been drawn especially because he was different.
Wiersbe points out several repeated phrases in the book:
- God is called “Lord God” (“ Sovereign Lord” NIV) over four hundred times.
- “I am the Lord” occurs fifty-nine times.
- “You will know that I am the LORD” (6:7 NIV) . . . is found seventy times.
- Ezekiel is called “son of man” ninety-three times.
- “The phrase ‘the word of the Lord came’ is used fifty times in his prophecy and speaks of the authority of his message, and ‘the hand of the LORD’ is found also in Ezekiel 3: 14, 22; 8: 1; 33: 22; 37: 1; and 40: 1. The word of the Lord brings enlightenment and the hand of the Lord enablement (see Eph. 1: 15–23).”
Wiersbe notes that “The Jews were sinning against a flood of light” in that they had the books of Moses, “knew the terms of the covenant,” had heard the messages of several prophets, “yet persisted in disobeying God’s will.” “The attitude of the people wasn’t that of militant opposition but rather passive indifference.” “In their pride, they had cultivated a false confidence that the Lord would never allow His people to be exiled or His temple destroyed, but their sin had now ‘matured’ and both were now about to happen.”
We must correctly distinguish regret, remorse, and true repentance. Regret is an activity of the mind; whenever we remember what we’ve done, we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?” Remorse includes both the heart and the mind, and we feel disgust and pain, but we don’t change our ways. But true repentance includes the mind, the heart, and the will. We change our minds about our sins and agree with what God says about them; we abhor ourselves because of what we have done; and we deliberately turn from our sin and turn to the Lord for His mercy.
Ezekiel assured the people that “Though His people were in exile and their nation was about to be destroyed, God was still on the throne and able to handle every situation. In His marvelous providence, He moves in the affairs of nations and works out His hidden plan.”
Ezekiel had to deal with the people about their sin and idolatry, but he also held out hope that one day God would set up a future shepherd (34:22-24), a covenant of peace (34:25-31), and His presence with them (34:30; 48:35).
One of the applications Wiersbe says Ezekiel brings out for us is “Too much so-called worship is only a demonstration of man-centered religious activity that fails to bring glory to the Lord.” He warns against falling into the trap Judah did in keeping outward forms of worship and religious activity without engaging the heart.
There is a lot of controversy in Ezekiel, too, especially over what the details of the new temple mean in the last few chapters.
There’s so much more, both to Ezekiel and Wiersbe’s comments. But perhaps this gives you taste of both. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the “Be series” in the future.