July 23, 2023

Homily Two on the Prophet Ezekiel (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Today we celebrate the Prophet Ezekiel who lived in Old Testament times and indeed in the 7th to 6th century BC, and who was the son of a Jewish priest and lived in the time of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

The Prophet Ezekiel was married and a priest in the Temple of Solomon, when the Babylonians conquered the Jews, and he himself was taken captive to Babylon. In this city of captivity he was called by God to the prophetic office and he lived among his other captive compatriots.

The name Ezekiel in the Hebrew language means "God's Strength or God will strengthen", and this shows that throughout his life, with the work he accomplished, he proved that God is powerful and strengthens His Prophets. Therefore, the Prophet Ezekiel is one of the great Prophets, he lived and acted prophetically and died in Babylon, in the place of captivity. He practiced his prophetic work for about twenty years. As I said before, he was married, but his wife died on the day the Babylonians captured Jerusalem.

During that period when the Jews were captured by the Babylonians and remained in Babylon, they went through a great temptation. They saw the imposing ceremonies that the Babylonians performed for their gods and being in great despair at the destruction of their own Temple in Jerusalem, many of them began to lean towards idolatry, considering that the gods of the idolaters had more power.

We could emphasize that they saw the difference between monotheism, as manifested in Sinai and as taught by Moses the God-seer, and the religion of polytheism, and they leaned towards the latter. Then God raised up Ezekiel as a great Prophet, who, with his teaching and especially with his prophecies, showed that the Lord of glory, the God who was revealed to Moses and the Prophets, is the true God, while the so-called gods of the idolaters, even if they have great and pompous ceremonies are false.

The prophetic book of Ezekiel at the beginning presents the calling of Ezekiel to the prophetic office. The Lord of glory appears to the Prophet with created images, calls him "son of man" and gives him specific instructions. The Prophet Ezekiel felt as if the Lord opened his mouth, having eaten a book and his belly, his heart, was filled with the Grace of God, so He sent him to preach to the Israelites, to a multitude of people who speak different languages.

At the same time, God warns him that his listeners will not accept his word, because they do not want to obey God, because they are quarrelsome and hard-hearted, so He assures him that he will make Him strong, mighty, stronger than a rock so that he can resist this disobedience. And after he gave him a command to go to his captive compatriots, the Spirit of the Lord lifted him up and he set out with great momentum to strengthen them in the faith of the true God.

The entire book of Prophet Ezekiel is full of prophecies. Basically, it is divided into two parts, one refers to the fall of Israel and the other refers to its restoration. However, this book specifically refers, firstly to the threats against Judea and Jerusalem, secondly to prophecies against the neighboring nations and thirdly to prophecies about the restoration of Israel.

The Israelites had turned away from the living God, they committed transgressions, that is why their captivity by the Babylonians was a result of their apostasy. In this way, God through the Prophet Ezekiel, rebukes them for their repentance, then comforts them with the prophecies of their restoration.

Therefore, the spiritual diagram of the prophecies is that sin is considered as apostasy from God and this has painful consequences for people and nations. However, repentance is required, that is why God allows various pedagogic actions, however these punishments are within the perspective of His love, and according to the degree of repentance comes their restoration.

Within this book there are wonderful prophetic images that show not only the restoration of man to his former state, but also the general resurrection of the dead. We see this in the prophecy that the Church chose to be read on Good Friday after the procession of the Epitaphion. According to this prophecy, the Prophet, by God's command, speaks to the dead bones, and they acquire flesh and nerves, and later, with another command, the spirit comes into them and they are resurrected.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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