St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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The Bible: Ezekiel

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The book of Ezekiel is one of the longer books of the prophets; it is 48 chapters long. It deals with the time during the exile. He is also a priest and has a prominence in the liturgy. He found his call to be a prophet in the land of Babylon which makes him the first prophet to receive his call outside of the Holy Land (EZ 1:1-3).

The book starts off with the call of the prophet that resembles that of the book of Revelation. He uses the word “electrum” to describe the person he sees (EZ 1:27). This “electrum” is figured to be a highly polished brass. The book of Revelation talks of this godly figure with feet like polished brass refined in a furnace (Rev 1: 15). Ezekiel is told to eat a scroll that tastes sweet as honey (Ez 3:1-4) while John says he ate the scroll that tasted as sweet as honey, but turned sour in the stomach in the book of Revelation (Rev 10:1-11).

There are also the creatures with four faces on them, one face for each side. One face is that of a man, the second of a lion, the third of an ox and the fourth of an eagle (Ez 1:4-20). It is later described that these creatures are Cherubim in Ez 10:18-23. In the book of Revelation the creatures are described as not different faces but different creatures (Rev 4:6-8).

These four creatures also depict the four gospels. The gospel of Matthew is the lion, Mark is the ox, Luke is the man and John is the eagle. Some of the grandparents may remember these statues in the church, on stained glass or as images on the Gospel book. There is a picture of St Joseph Church from 1924 that shows these small statues on the two front side altars by where the statues of St Mary and St Joseph used to be. I am guessing they were about 18 inches in height. The four gospels are symbolic of the four corners of the earth. The Gospel message is for everybody who would listen, lest they hear and be converted (Mt 13:15-16).

The first prophecy in this book is that of the total destruction of Jerusalem. Remember how he was already in exile? This means he was of the northern kingdom that got exiled to Babylon, before the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah and with it, the fall of Jerusalem. So while he is in exile with the Israelites, he prophesizes the fall of Judah and Jerusalem back home. There is a ray of hope given in Chapter 11, but there is a lot to say about condemnation, the sins of God’s people and their abstinence. Evidently, it took some prophecy to change their hearts, even after the fall of Jerusalem. The story of the two sisters is most proving that the people of God did not repent right away (Ez 23). This story also should remind Christians of the book of Revelation, Chapter 17.

In Chapter 33 Ezekiel hears of the fall of Jerusalem and is able to speak on his own will after years of predicting the fall of Jerusalem (Ez 33:21-22). He starts to prophecy the coming back from exile and God’s work in it. In Chapter 40 and through the rest of the book he describes the new Jerusalem.

Flipping back and forth to the book of Revelation would make a great bible study on this book. Understood in the right context, this book can explain a lot in the Bible. I hope you have enjoyed the book as much as I have.

Author: stjosephstmary

We are two Catholic Churches close to downtown Freeport, IL. Our communities are over 150 years old and have been dedicated to our lord Jesus Christ since our inception. We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of ythe Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

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