Skip to main content
3rd July

Ezekiel 1-4; Psalm 29

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
3rd July

Ezekiel 1-4; Psalm 29

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


Ezekiel is a priest who was taken into exile as part of the first wave. The book starts five years into exile. This means the perspective of the books is from within Babylon often looking towards Judah and Jerusalem to the people still there. We read of the fall of Jerusalem halfway through the book.

Ezekiel 1-11 - Accusations against Judah

  • Ezekiel 1-3 - Ezekiel is commissioned
  • Ezekiel 4-5 - Ezekiel’s prophetic performance
  • Ezekiel 6-7 - Judgement is coming to Judah
  • Ezekiel 8-11 - Ezekiel’s vision of the temple

Ezekiel 12-24 - Judgement on Israel

Ezekiel 25-32 - Judgement on the nations

Ezekiel 33 - Jerusalem falls

Ezekiel 34-48 - The future hope for Israel and the nations

  • Ezekiel 34-39 - A restoration of the land with a new king and a new people
  • Ezekiel 39-48 - A restoration of the temple and the city where God will dwell

The book plays with the idea that God’s presence dwells in Jerusalem. As the God of Israel, the belief was that God’s authority and presence were largely limited to Israel. His throne was found in Jerusalem in the temple. But in Ezekiel, we see God sitting on his throne over Babylon.

This imagery is to invoke a few ideas. First, that God has abandoned Jerusalem because of the people’s wickedness. Second, at the same time, God has gone into exile into Babylon with his people. But third and most importantly, that God’s authority and presence are not limited to just Israel, but are in fact over the whole earth.

Ezekiel is also one of the more extreme and wild of the prophets. He acts out scenes that are very bizarre to demonstrate what God wants to tell his people. We’ve read in other prophets a lot of adultery, language and imagery. Ezekiel also picks this up, but he’s by far the most explicit in the language that he uses.

Ezekiel 1-4

The opening of the books sets the scene which we've already covered. As mentioned, Ezekiel was with the first group taken into captivity, and while in Babylon, he received visions from God. The first vision was Ezekiel's initial call by God.

It starts off with a great thunderstorm, and out of the thunderstorm comes four living beings. The description of these living beings is strange. Very strange. Each of them has four heads; a human, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Their legs didn't bend, and they had hooves for feet. They shone like bronze, or like a glowing piece of coal. They had four wings that stretched out to touch each other, and these wings made noises like great rushing water.

You could do a detailed study into the symbolism and significance of these living beings. But for our purposes, the reality is these beings aren't the focus of this vision. Each of the beings had wheels on their feet, and there was a platform held up by the tips of their wings. On top of their platform was a throne. And on that throne sat the glory of God, who to Ezekiel looked like a man made of fire from the waist down and polished metal from the waist up.

In this vision, the living beings primarily serve as a chariot for God's throne. This is significant, because this means that God's throne isn't fixed to one place, such as the temple in Jerusalem, like the Israelites believed. God's throne has now come to Ezekiel in Babylon. It is able to move, and because of the living beings, move fast and in any direction.

Seeing all this, Ezekiel falls to his knees in worship. But God calls down from his chariot throne, telling Ezekiel to stand up so they can speak. God charges Ezekiel with speaking on his behalf to the Israelites that are still in Jerusalem and Judah. God calls these people a nation of rebels. They have sinned against God and continue to sin against him now, even though many of their people, including Ezekiel, had already been taken into captivity for their sin.

God warns Ezekiel that they may not listen, for they are a stubborn people. But then it can at least be said that God had sent a prophet to warn them. And God encourages Ezekiel to not be afraid of them, for he will be with him. But Ezekiel should also be careful to not become rebellious himself.

To combat that, God gives him a scroll containing God's message to his people. God tells Ezekiel to eat it. This is not some external message that Ezekiel is just passing on. This is a message Ezekiel has taken into himself and is now part of who he is.

Then God once again affirms who Ezekiel is to speak to. God isn't sending him to the foreign nations, to people who don't speak a different language. Ironically, if God had sent Ezekiel to them, they would likely repent. No. God is sending Ezekiel to his own people, and this time includes not only the Israelites still in Jerusalem and Judah, but also those that had been taken into captivity.

The vision ends with the living beings declaring God's glory. And so, filled with the Spirit, Ezekiel is compelled to go back to the village where his fellow Israelites are. But Ezekiel's heart is heavy with the message he has been given, and so he takes a week to just sit and process everything God had said.

At the end of the seven days, God comes to Ezekiel again. This time, God has come to give Ezekiel the call of a watchman. The watchman is to watch out for God's word and then report it to the people. If God speaks out over the people, they will die, and if Ezekiel fails to pass that message on to the people, then their blood with be on Ezekiel's hands. But if Ezekiel does pass on the message, there's a possibility the people might repent and be saved.

God tells Ezekiel to go home and allow himself to be bound. There, God will make him mute. Unable to speak. This will be a prophetic sign that Ezekiel doesn't go out to the people and speak his own words, but only goes out when God allows, with the words God gives him to speak.

Then God gives Ezekiel some more prophetic acts, public demonstrations for the people to see, that speak of what God is doing or going to do. He tells Ezekiel to build a mini model of Jerusalem, and the act out its siege and destruction.

Next, he tells Ezekiel to lie on his left side for 390 days. This is a prophetic act that speaks of the 390 years that the northern kingdom of Israel were to be punished in exile. Once that's finished, Ezekiel is to move to his right side and lay there a further forty days, to represent the forty years that the southern kingdom of Judah would be punished in exile.

And during all this time Ezekiel is to eat bread that was baked on fire fuelled by human dung. This would have made have made the food unclean, both physically but also ceremonially. This was to represent the unclean food that the people would be forced to eat in exile. Being trained as a priest, Ezekiel cried out at the idea of doing anything unclean. So God let him use cow dung instead. Still nasty, but not as ceremonially unclean.

Psalm 29

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of praise psalm. Because of the focus on strength and God’s voice, this was like a psalm sung after a great military victory. There was a sense that the war cry of God is what helped the Israelites win battles.

Psalm 29:1-2 - Ascribe glory to the Lord

Psalm 29:3 - His voice is like thunder

Psalm 29:4-6 - His voice is powerful

Psalm 29:7 - His voice is like fire

Psalm 29:8-9 - His voice shakes the earth

Psalm 29:10-11 - The Lord sits enthroned

The psalm opens with the call to ‘heavenly beings’ (the Hebrew describes them as sons of God) to praise God. So great is the sense of victory amongst the Israelites that they tell the very heavens to sing God's praise. 

They mention that God’s voice is like thunder over water. There is lots of imagery being pulled in here. God speaking to the water and dividing it at creation (Genesis 1:6-8); the flood narrative (Genesis 7-8); God splitting the red sea for the Israelites to walk through (Exodus 14), to name a few.

We’ve mentioned with each of these that the sea embodies the forces of chaos, and so just as God’s voice has power of the sea, it also has power over chaos. This includes the enemy armies seeking to bring chaos and destruction. They must all submit to God’s voice.

The next feat of strength we see from God’s voice is that it breaks cedars from Lebanon. Lebanon was an area to the north of Israel, and many of their enemies attack them from the north. But God takes these enemies and breaks them, chasing them away like a young calf.

God’s voice is described as like fire, or lightning (depending on your translation). The very earth itself trembles, deers give birth, and forest are stripped bare. In each of these, we see God’s authority and power over every area of nature.

And so the psalm ends by honouring God with his rightful place, as a king enthroned. He enthroned of the flood, the embodiment of all things chaotic. His reign last forever, and he strengthens his people.

In this psalm, we learn of God’s great power and authority. All the scary things of earth, whether it be chaos, enemy forces, or just day-to-day life, must bow before him.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

Share this article