POSTED 23 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 593-573 B.C.E. (Right, some conservative-moderate); 500s B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate); 500s-300s B.C.E. (Left)
Time period: hopeless Judah in exile
Author(s): Ezekiel (Right; some conservative-moderate); Ezekiel and/or additional editors (some conservative-moderate); Ezekiel and/or anonymous writers and editors (Left)
Location of prophet/author(s): Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and/or Babylon (Right, conservative-moderate); Babylon and/or Land of Israel (Left)
Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites at the beginning of the Babylonian exile (Right, some conservative-moderate, Left); Southern Kingdom Israelites during the Babylonian exile (some conservative-moderate, some Left); Southern Kingdom Israelites after the Babylonian exile (some Left)
Theological Summary: The Book of Ezekiel (Heb. Yechezkel) can be one of the most difficult to interpret among the prophetic texts of the Tanach. Ezekiel is one of the most involved Biblical books in regard to ancient history, as Ezekiel’s prophecies are given against the backdrop of the Southern Kingdom’s judgment and exile to Babylon. Ezekiel himself, from a priestly family (1:1), was an exile to Babylon taken there along with King Jehoiachin (cf. 2 Kings 24:8-17), and while in Babylon was commissioned to be a prophet (1:1-3). Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry overlapped that of Jeremiah. Being from a priestly line, his prophecies included an emphasis on the Temple and its rituals (chs. 8-11; 40-48). Deeply entwined in Ezekiel’s words are an innate knowledge, on his part, of the affairs of his contemporary world. Ezekiel was a person who directly involved himself in the importance of his prophecies, sometimes speaking as though his audience is right there as is the case when he addresses God’s judgment on foreign powers. While in Babylon, Ezekiel had a large degree of freedom.
Many of Ezekiel’s prophecies include stated dates as to when they are delivered, allowing interpreters to approximate the time that Ezekiel served as a prophet. Some commentators have devised elaborate charts attempting to calculate the exact dates that certain prophecies were delivered. Ezekiel prophesied both before and after the exiles were taken to Babylon, over a period of about 25 years. The principal audience of Ezekiel was exilic.
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.