"They knew not... the voices of the
prophets which are read every sabbath" (Acts 13:27).
laid the foundation for these messages, but making some
essential distinctions and differences, especially
regarding symbolism and reality, and mysticism and
spirituality, we can now proceed to indicate how Ezekiel
and his prophetic message falls into our basic purpose.
That purpose is to show that it is possible to be very
familiar ("every sabbath") with the words of
the Divine message, and yet, at the same time, miss the
inner meaning, the 'Voice'.
we take only one major aspect and instance of this, it
will indicate how serious this is, as well as obvious, to
us who have the fuller story.
will be known to those who are familiar with 'Ezekiel'
that one of the most common characteristics of that book
is the form of God's address to the Prophet. No fewer
than ninety times Ezekiel is addressed as "Son of
does not concern me very much that in the Hebrew the term
simply means 'Son of Adam', and is repeatedly used simply
to indicate a human being, just mankind. I am impressed
with two things in this book: one, that in no other case
is it anything like as characteristic of an Old Testament
book; and, two, the persistent and exclusive reiteration
of the designation. There are deeper things than these
which we shall draw out as we proceed; for it is in the
deep significance of the two things noted that we shall
find our message. This book is a book of visions,
revelations, disclosures. It is a book of portents and
predictions. It is not least a book of movements,
activities, and energies. But in all of these God is
addressing Himself to, and through, one whom He
invariably calls "Son of Man". In every
matter it is by keeping to this form of
address. Very well, then, if that is noted, we can go
"visions of God" which comprise this book are
all governed by an inclusive and initial vision
The Vision of the
are not going to move into a study of the Cherubim from
the Garden of Eden to the book of the Revelation - the
first and last mention of them. We shall keep to Ezekiel
with but one object. By the river Chebar the Prophet was
given the vision of what has been called 'the
chariot-throne of Jehovah', borne by the Cherubim. The
Cherubim are a symbolic representation of creation. Four
is the number of creation, and the representation is of
the four realms and governments of creation. The lion,
king in his realm. The ox, king in the realm of domestic
creatures and the service of man. The eagle, lord of all
the realm of the air. And man. It is common knowledge
that in this symbolism the man-feature is pre-eminent.
The fact that it is the 'chariot-throne of Jehovah' that
is being borne by the Cherubim is meant to show the
absolute sovereignty of God in His creation. This
sovereignty is chiefly expressed - in the creation -
manwise. "What is man? ...Thou madest him to have
dominion..." (Psalm 8:4,6). In the three
instrumentalities and methods of Divine government, i.e.
Priest, King and Prophet (the Old Testament order), the
Prophet is always represented as the man particularly.
Man particularizes the speech of
God. By his very creation in "the likeness and
image" of God he speaks as God's representative. Of
course, it is true that the Priest - the mediator - is
man. The same is true of the King. But these have their
own symbolism in the lion and ox, while the man is
particularly indicative of the Prophet. The Prophet runs
right through the Old Testament, so far as function is
concerned, but he comes into full measure when Priest and
King are either in weakness or needing special counsel
think that we have now reached the heart of 'Ezekiel',
and there we find in as full a way as anywhere in the Old
Testament the representative of God's mind in speech by
vision, word and deed. That is why the Lord said to
Ezekiel: "Son of man, say unto the people of Israel,
I am your sign." "I have made you a
lift out of this book the teaching and truth that the
sovereignty of God in creation and
redemption is manwise.
Man - let us repeat - is God's representative in His
government, and His instrument in redemption. (See Romans
5:12,19, and 1 Corinthians 15:21.)
The Prophet as a
other factor must be mentioned as essential to this
particular message, for, without it, the whole case will
break down. It is the suffering
aspect of God's representative in redemption. The
Prophet is invariably a suffering man. Suffering
for God's people is a very real thing whenever and
wherever the prophetic function is in operation.
that we have said is the voice of the Prophet Ezekiel.
we are ready to make
The Transition from
Ezekiel to Christ
link between the two is largely found in the name, with a
difference. In Ezekiel it is "Son of Man". In
the Gospels it is "THE Son of Man". Here again,
on the best of grounds, we reject (despite the Aramaic
language) that it is just and only 'a man', one of the
human species called 'man'.
is a title chosen by our Lord as particularly His
favourite. It occurs eighty-two times in the New
Testament, and in all but two it came from His own lips.
This alone gives it a significance that is more than the
general 'a man'. But the main strength of its uniqueness
is found in its various connections.
is used in relation to:
His first coming.
2. His life here in union with heaven.
3. His ministry and work here among men. (His authority.)
4. His going out of the world.
5. His "lifting up"; the Cross.
6. His coming again.
7. His glorification.
8. His judgment of men and the world.
and comprehensively the title is always with a
never referred to Himself as "Son of Abraham",
"Son of David", "Son of Israel", etc.
This keeps us to the real significance. Why did Jesus
prefer and love this title?
it goes right to the heart of God His Father. It leads us
to that great and dear concern of God for man;
a creation in which God has vested so much
for His creational glory and pleasure. It touches the
deep sorrow of God because of man being "lost"
(see Luke 19:10 and 15:4,6,9,24,32). It is therefore the
Redeemer title; the title of the 'Kinsman Redeemer'. It
is a name of universality; the whole race. It is more
than any earthly category of nationality, colour,
language, temperament, sex, age, culture, or zone. Herein
is the "Voice" of the Greatest of all Prophets,
it is "the voice of the Son of man" (John
with a vast subject only hinted at, we come to our
particular point. Why did Israel not hear this voice,
although hearing the words every Sabbath, and hearing His
words for over three years?
There are two answers, or two factors to the one answer.
was their national and exclusive prejudice.
horizon was Israel, and all others were "dogs",
outsiders, and worse. They had lost their vision and
vocation to the nations. They had narrowed God down to
Jewry and Judaism. Still worse, they had come to believe
that they alone were righteous, and all others were
"Sinners of the Gentiles". It was not men
for whom they cared, but for themselves as
Israelites. Hence anything that did not conform to their
exclusiveness was anathema to them: and Jesus did not
conform! He refused to be trammelled by
their legalistic strictures, the 'heavy burdens which
they put upon men's backs'. He was already breaking down
that legalism against which He later swung His great
Apostle Paul like a battle-axe. Prejudice, born of
exclusive self-rightness, will always result in
blindness, confusion and limitation.
there is another factor in their inability to hear; the
last one mentioned in relation to the Prophet's ministry.
idea of the Messiah being a man was
not strange or foreign to the Jews. When Jesus was in
popularity with the multitude they were ready to acclaim
Him the Messiah. But a hitch and affront came to their
enthusiasm, as it came to the disciples themselves when
He introduced the subject of His approaching death, and
that by 'lifting up', that is, the Cross. The word which
expressed their reaction to that intimation was
"Offended". The point was reached when
everyone, even His disciples, lost confidence in Him. A
suffering Messiah? "Far be it from thee, Lord, this
shall never come to thee."
"The Son of Man must go...", but
surely not that way! So the
multitude changed their minds and asked: "Who is this
Son of Man?" (John 12:34).
Unwillingness and unpreparedness to accept the Cross,
"the fellowship of his sufferings", will
certainly make blind and deaf to the full knowledge of
Him, and hinder the fullness of the "New Man".
The movement from the one man, Adam,
to the One Man, Christ, is ever and only by way of the
Cross. The ear has to be a crucified ear if it is to hear
"the Voice of the Son of Man". Until the Cross
has separated between the old and the new, the natural
and the spiritual, there is no faculty for hearing
"what the Spirit saith".
yes words; year in and year out; but at the last the
'voice' has not really been heard.