The commemoration of the Holy Prophet Ezekiel follows the day after that of the Prophet Ilia. His prophecies in Babylonian exile foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Third Temple, interpreted by Christians as the presence of Christ himself rather than construction of a building. He also foretold the role of the Virgin Mary in God’s Incarnation as Man, and the Resurrection of the Dead through Christ.
The Holy Prophet Ezekiel lived in the 6th Century before the Birth of Christ. He was born in the city of Sarir, and descended from the Levite tribe; he was a priest and the son of the priest Buzi. In the second invasion against Jerusalem by the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnessar, at age 25 Ezekiel was led off to Babylon together with the king Jechoniah II and many other Jews.
In captivity the Prophet Ezekiel lived by the River Chobar. There, in his 30th year of life, in a vision there was revealed to him the future of the Hebrew nation and of all mankind. The prophet beheld a shining cloud, in the midst of which was a flame, and in it ‑- a mysterious likeness of a chariot moving by the spirit and four-winged beasts, each having four faces: of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. Under their faces was situated a wheel, bestrewn with eyes. Over the chariot towered as it were a crystalline firmament, and over the firmament – the likeness of a throne as though of glittering sapphire. And upon this throne a radiant “likeness of Man”, and about Him a rainbow (Ez. 1: 4-28).
According to the explanation of the fathers of the Church, the most-bright “likeness of Man” radiant upon the sapphire throne, was a prefigurament of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the MostHoly Virgin Mary, manifest as the Throne of God. The four creatures prefigured the four evangelists, the wheel with a multitude of eyes – the sharing of light with all the nations of the earth. During this vision the holy prophet out of fear fell down upon the ground, but the voice of God commanded him to get up and then explained, that the Lord was sending him to preach to the nation of Israel.
From this time began the prophetic service of Ezekiel. The Prophet Ezekiel announces to the nation of Israel, situated in Baylonian Captivity, about its coming tribulations for straying in the faith and forsaking the True God. The prophet proclaimed also a better time for his captive fellow-countrymen, and he predicted their return from Babylon and the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple.
Particularly important are two significant elements in the vision of the prophet – the one about the vision of the temple of the Lord, full of glory, – the second about the bones upon the field, to which the Spirit of God gave new life. The vision about the temple was a mysterious prefigurament of the freeing of the race of man from the working of the enemy and the building up of the Church of Christ through the redemptive deed of the Son of God, incarnated of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, – called by the prophet “the shut gates”, through which would be entered the One only Lord God (Ez. 44: 2).
The vision about the dry bones upon the field – prefigured the universal resurrection of the dead and the new eternal life of the redeemed by the death on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ez. 37: 1-14).
The holy Prophet Ezekiel had from the Lord a gift of wonderworking. He, like the Prophet Moses, by prayer to God divided the waters of the river Chobar, and the Hebrews crossed to the opposite shore, escaping the pursuing Chaldeans. During a time of famine the prophet besought of God an increase of food for the hungry.
For his denunciation of the idol-worship of a certain Hebrew prince, Saint Ezekiel was given over to execution: bound to wild horses, he was torn to pieces. Pious Hebrews gathered up the torn body of the prophet and buried it upon Maur Field, in the tomb of Sim and Arthaxad, fore-fathers of Abraham, not far from Baghdad. The prophecy of Ezekiel was written down in a book, mentioning him by name, and is included in the Bible.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.