TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 33-35
“In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has been struck down.’ Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came, and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.” – Ezekiel 33:21-22
Ezekiel receives word that Jerusalem has been burned down. It has been destroyed. He hears this from a fugitive, or a survivor or one who has escaped the destruction.
In regards to this passage, almost every commentary I checked debates the historical accuracy of the fugitive coming to Ezekiel in the 12th year of the exile. Some reason there must be an error because Jerusalem was destroyed 18 months prior to this and the journey from Jerusalem to Babylon was only four to five months. Others suggest that the fall of Jerusalem happened a year later than the other scholars claim. Therefore, the fugitive’s journey would have been the expected four to five months.
But, not one commentary I read made any attempt to connect this to Jesus. But, this should be the first approach to every passage of scripture as Jesus said in Luke 24 and John 5 that all scripture witnesses to him. Our first approach to scripture should not be a literal approach that attempts to fit the events into a precise historical context as created by historians and archaeologists.
What does the passage say about Jesus?
As I read through the passage, “so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute” really stood out to me.
When was Jesus mute and he began to speak?
Luke 2:42 says that “when he was twelve years old” Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the passover. Mary and Joseph set out to return to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind.
Luke 2:46-47 says, “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” While we are not told what Jesus said, we are told the first account of Jesus speaking when he was twelve years old. And, later in the same passage, Luke records the first words of Jesus in any of the gospels.
Twelve is the number of governmental perfection or divine authority. The first mention of Jesus speaking, of being no longer mute, was when he was 12 years old in the temple. The temple was God’s dwelling place. The temple was the place that God ruled from. It was from here that his government and authority issued forth. So, in the life of Jesus we have quite a connection between speaking, no longer being mute, the number 12, and divine authority.
As an interesting aside to the number 12 and divine authority, the 12th time Luke uses the name Jesus is in Luke 4:14-15, which says, “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” The 12th mention of the name Jesus says that he had the power of the Spirit, divine authority. And, with that divine authority, Jesus was teaching, speaking.
So, we have a connection with the number 12 between Jesus and the passage in Ezekiel. But, what of the 10th month and the fifth day?
The number 10 symbolizes orderly perfection. In other words, the number 10 is about bringing things into right standing or making things right.
Luke 2:49 are the first words any of the gospels record Jesus speaking. So, when he was 12 years old, Jesus said to Mary and Joseph, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Most Bible translations have a note saying that “in my Father’s house” could be translated “about my Father’s business.” Young’s Literal Translation translates this verse as “Why is it that ye were seeking me? did ye not know that in the things of my Father it behoveth me to be?”
Jesus told Mary and Joseph that he was “in the things of his Father.”
What are “the things of his Father” that was Jesus was in?
Jesus was in the business of setting things right, making things right.
Romans 3:21-22 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in [some say should it be of] Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
The righteousness of God has been manifested in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:3-4 says, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Righteousness does not come from adherence to the law. Jesus put an end to that as the righteousness of God comes through him.
So, if Jesus was speaking in divine authority about the orderly perfection, the righteousness of God, that he was bringing, then how was speaking?
Luke 2:47 says, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
Jesus was sitting among the teachers and the rabbis in the temple. And, it was these teachers and rabbis that were amazed at what Jesus was saying when he was 12 years old.
Why were they so amazed?
These men were teachers of the law. But, Jesus was not teaching them the law. They were amazed because he taught them not the law but grace and truth.
John 1:16-17 says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Five is the number of grace. So, this is the meaning of the fifth day in Ezekiel. Jesus came in grace and truth, not the law.
As another confirmation of Jesus coming in grace, the story of Jesus speaking when he was 12 years old in Luke ends with the fifth mention of the name Jesus in Luke. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”
So, in this fifth mention of the name Jesus, do we not have a wonderful definition of grace?
Increasing in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Come back to Ezekiel and read through the message he got from the Lord in the 12th year, 10th month, and fifth day of the month.
First, the Jews said that since Abraham was just one man and possessed the land, surely they as a whole nation could possess the land. But, the Lord said they were going to do it through blood and reliance of the sword. But, God told them this was not going to work.
The first words of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Jews wanted a warrior king to defeat the Roman Empire so they could they could posses the land again. If Abraham did it as one, surely they as a nation with their Messiah could defeat the Roman Empire.
But, Jesus’ entire ministry was about telling the Jews to repent from that wrong idea. The kingdom would not come from fighting as Jesus told Pilate. The kingdom would not come through the sword as Jesus told Peter to put away his sword and all that lived by the sword would die by the sword.
Second, the Lord told Ezekiel that the people would hear his words like lustful songs that stir the heart, but they won’t do what he says.
But, despite the amazement everyone had at Jesus’ words, and despite the people acknowledging the authority that Jesus spoke with, they heard his words but wouldn’t do them.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
In John 7:17, Jesus said, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
In John 8:43-45, Jesus said, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Ezekiel shows that Jesus, that God, is no longer mute. Jesus is speaking with divine authority about making things right, righteousness, in grace and truth. And, his loudest, clearest message was spoken through the cross.
Are we hearing and doing?