The 17-hour Mobile Ed course on Ezekiel, taught by Daniel Block, is currently on pre-pub through Logos. This is a tempting offer; I love reading Ezekiel due to its cinematic visuals (the Valley of Dry Bones), but have never formally studied it. So I took the opportunity to chat with Ryan Boys about the book.
Ryan has the chops to speak on Ezekiel. He’s been swimming in the visions of the prophet for quite some time now, currently working on a manuscript under contract with Fontes Press. He also published an article in Christianity Today last year on the topic of preaching Ezekiel. Here’s what Ryan had to say about Ezekiel, and why you should study it.
T: Why study Ezekiel?
R: First, in many ways the message of Ezekiel fits very well with our current spiritual needs. Ezekiel addresses an Israelite community in exile that is spiritually disenfranchised. Many would argue that our Western, post-Christian culture is by default spiritually disenfranchised. Any further study of Ezekiel will produce much needed spiritual insight.
Second, the drama of Ezekiel’s visions and prophetic sign-acts engage our imagination. When we study Ezekiel we take away practical truths communicated in an unforgettable package.
Third, study aides for apocalyptic sections of the Bible are more readily available today, which makes getting the big idea of Ezekiel much easier. It’s a great time to sojourn down the often untraveled paths in Ezekiel.
T: What is your favourite section of the book?
R: My favorite section is Ezekiel 40-48, his fourth vision. The final, climactic vision of a restored Israel living in a restored land with the Lord is a dramatic contrast to their lives scattered in exile in Babylon. Even with the interpretive challenges, that vision contains a powerful message of hope in God’s saving work regardless of the tragedies we may be experiencing. These are the kind of spiritual insights that result from a careful study of Ezekiel.
T: Who are some of the best interpreters of Ezekiel from church history (up to today), in your opinion?
R: Calvin’s commentary on Ezekiel 1-20 makes for some fascinating reading. He often references the Hebrew text, so for those with Hebrew skills it’s a way to exegetically travel back in time. His applications are usually framed in terms of the conflict between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church, but in almost every section he offers valuable spiritual insight based on his exegetical study of the text.
Spurgeon’s sermons on passages from Ezekiel are filled with stimulating and sometimes surprising interpretations. What is often missed in Spurgeon is his canonical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in light of the New Testament.
Daniel Block’s two-volume commentary on Ezekiel in the NICOT series is outstanding. His exegetical work is a lucid and thorough contribution to the study of Ezekiel by a top notch scholar.
T: What are a few of the lesser studied sections in, or aspects of, Ezekiel that are ripe for new research efforts?
R: The discourse structure of Ezekiel’s apocalyptic visions hasn’t been thoroughly studied. More analysis of the grammatical and literary makeup of those visions would advance our understanding of other apocalyptic visions. Although a massive undertaking, a comprehensive commentary from a discourse perspective would also yield a ton of fruit.
Of special interest would be a study of how the various sub-genres, such as prophetic sign-acts, parables, and apocalyptic visions, are fused together as a coherent whole.
T: Finally, what advice can you give to those preaching Ezekiel that you haven’t covered already in your CT article?
R: For an expository preaching series, preaching larger portions is essential. This means summarizing longer chunks of text. In a church ministry context the preacher could suggest that the congregation read a larger portion ahead of time.
Another helpful approach is preaching selective texts in a shortened expository series, a kind of highlight reel from Ezekiel.
If possible, making use of visual aides will greatly enhance the effectiveness of reading the vivid images in Ezekiel. The book of Ezekiel is anything but boring, so helping the church appreciate the excitement of the prophetic message will also assist the hearers recall those messages later.
Bidding is currently open for OT362 Book Study: Ezekiel. Check out the syllabus for this 17-hour course diving deep into the book of Ezekiel with Daniel Block.
Get your bid in today for the highest price you’re willing to go, and if the final price is lower, that’s what you’ll pay.