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3 Reasons You Should Preach Through Ezekiel

3. It helps people to find hope in the midst of suffering.

One of the burning questions of Ezekiel is “Where is God?” The book opens with God’s people in exile and then God unexpectedly shows up (ch. 1). But what’s he doing in Babylon? Why isn’t he in the temple in Jerusalem? In dramatic and moving imagery, Ezekiel is shown that God has abandoned the temple, driven away by the sins of Israel (chs. 8–10). The exile cannot be avoided because God’s judgment cannot be averted (ch. 12). This question haunts the first half of the book, and the answer seems self-evident: “The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see” (9:9).

And yet, almost from the very beginning of the book, God makes clear that in the midst of suffering and judgment God’s people have misunderstood God’s heart. God declares, “Though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone” (11:16). His arrival in Babylon not only marks his judgment on Jerusalem but anticipates his triumphant judgment over Israel’s enemies (chs. 38–39). His purpose is to put his Spirit within his people (36:27) and to restore them under a king like David (37:24–28). The book ends with a final glance at the restored city, which is never called Jerusalem, but rather, “The Lord is There” (48:35).

When we preach Ezekiel, we have an opportunity to remind our congregation that God is where he always is; he is with his people. He’s with them in the midst of their judgment because that judgment happened at the cross, when the Son bore the sins of the sons. He’s with them in the new life of the new covenant because he has put his very Spirit within them. In other words, Jesus has fulfilled the promise of Ezekiel 36–37. When he ascended to the Father, he sent us the Spirit (John 14:16, 26), and even now he makes us alive by the power of the Spirit (John 3:5–8). And God will be with them forever in the New Jerusalem, which is the people of God, a city which will need no temple, because God himself will dwell in their midst (Rev 21).

Your people want to know where God is when their world falls apart, when God’s promises seem impossibly far off, when the enemy seems to have the upper hand and it feels as if God doesn’t see and doesn’t care. Ezekiel knew from bitter experience the reality and pain of those questions. But we don’t preach Ezekiel because he gives voice to our questions. We preach Ezekiel because he gives voice to God’s answer. Hope is found not in our circumstances, our feelings or our efforts, but in the confidence that God is with his people, for what Ezekiel prophesied, Jesus Christ fulfilled: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:20)

That’s why you should preach Ezekiel.

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Editor’s note: You can read the rest of the articles in this series here.

This article originally appeared here.