Day 243: The Three Most-Used Phrases in Ezekiel, and Why it Matters (Ezekiel 16:62)

“I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord,”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭16‬:‭62‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Through the Bible: Ezekiel 16-17

As you study the Bible, it’s always a good idea to look for patterns such as thematic elements, significant numbers, or repeated words and phrases. These patterns help us understand the meaning, theme, and big ideas of the book. And the more often you read the Bible, the more patterns will emerge.

With that in mind, would you like to take a guess as to what the most common phrases are in Ezekiel? As best as I can tell, here are the top three:

#3: “The Word of the Lord came to me” (49 times)

Ezekiel establishes his source of authority from the very beginning of the book:

“the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭1‬:‭3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The prophet wanted to make it crystal clear that these words didn’t originate with him. They came to Ezekiel and through Ezekiel, but not from Ezekiel.

If you teach or preach the Bible, this must be your starting point. When you teach, it can only be “the word of the Lord.” Not the opinions of men. Not any fresh revelations you think you have been given. There are no new revelations. God has given us his full and final revelation in the person of Jesus Christ (See Hebrews 1:2; Jude 1:3; Revelation 22:18-19).

If you study the Bible or sit under someone’s teaching, you need to know the difference between the text and the study notes. The text is divinely inspired—truth without any mixture of error. The study notes are helpful, but not inspired. They may be the commentary of one person such as Tony Evans, John MacArthur, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Stanley, or other prominent teachers or theologians who have published study Bibles. Or, they may come from a translation team. Either way, they are helpful, but not inspired. Your job is to always be a Berean— eagerly studying the Scripture to see if what Paul was saying matched up to it (see Acts 17:10-11).

#2: “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (72 times)

Unsurprisingly, this phrase typically ends a section in which God describes the wrath He is about to pour out on Israel or her enemies. Of the 72 occurrences of the phrase, 46 of them are about judgment and wrath.

But that leaves 26 of them that are not about wrath and judgment, but about blessing and mercy! Consider some of the promises that end with this phrase:

  • ““I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them.” (Ezekiel‬ ‭34‬:‭25‬-‭27‬ ‭ESV‬‬)
  • “Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezekiel‬ ‭36‬:‭36‬ ‭ESV)‬‬
  • “And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel‬ ‭37‬:‭14‬ ‭ESV)

This is huge: the primary purpose of the exile was not to punish Israel, although that was near the top of the list. The primary purpose of God’s judgment against Egypt and Moab and every other enemy of Israel was not to destroy them.

The primary purpose of the exiles return and the restoration of Jerusalem was not so God could pour out His blessing on His chosen people.

And beloved, listen: God’s primary purpose for blessing as well as hardship in your own life is not to favor you or discipline you. At best, those are secondary concerns.

God’s primary concern will always be His glory. That all nations on earth would know that He is the Lord.

#1: “Son of man” (93 times)

And the winner is… “Son of man.” Every time God addresses Ezekiel, God calls him “Son of Man.”

This often confuses Christians. “But wait… isn’t Jesus the Son of Man?” (He is.) Isn’t that what Jesus called Himself most often in the Gospels? (It is: 81 times.) So why is it used in Ezekiel?

This was never confusing to me personally, because I first read Ezekiel in The Living Bible, which is a poor translation but a good paraphrase. The writers of the Living Bible paraphrased God’s favorite name for Ezekiel as “Son of dust.” While the majority of translations translate the Hebrew ben adam literally as “son of man” a few other translations anticipate the confusion this would cause and go for “human” or “mortal one.”

The most clarifying translation I’ve found doesn’t translate it at all. The Orthodox Jewish Bible leaves it as Ben Adam.

Son of Adam.

While it is true that adam in Hebrew means “man,” it has also been the proper name of the first man ever since Genesis 3. And by preserving “Ben Adam” into English, the reader is reminded that Ezekiel was not divine. He was a human being. And the difference between Ezekiel and Jesus is that Jesus was not a “son of Adam.” He was the Son of Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit. The only time Jesus is obliquely referred to as the Son of Adam in the gospels is in Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:38).

So, the lesson for us is really the same lesson we get from all three of these most common phrases:

  • God is God, and we are not.
  • God’s Word is the only word we have.
  • God is seeks His glory. So should we.

Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, remember.

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