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The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 1–24 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) Hardcover – August 26, 1997
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From the Back Cover
These twin convictions, shared by all of the contributors to The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, define the goal of this ambitious series of commentaries. For those many modern readers who find the Old Testament to be strange and foreign soil, the NICOT series serves as an authoritative guide bridging the cultural gap between today's world and the world of ancient Israel. Each NICOT volume aims to help us hear God's word as clearly as possible.
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His scholarship is especially valuable for a book as complicated and controversial as Ezekiel. Because of the large number of foot notes, it can be tempting to just read the text. I've found that reading the text and checking the footnotes doesn't feel like you, as the reader, are not making progress or "going slow." Instead, the relevancy and detail of the footnotes adds texture and depth to the narrative and makes the ministry of Ezekiel more tangible and impactful. This is, in my own experience, especially valuable in an era when there are so many who claim to have prophetic "words," or are recipients of direct communications from God. Ezekiel and his role as God's messenger to his kinsman could not be a sharper and more telling contrast when put beside the shallow, self-centered, egotistical and usually silly "words" and communications passed on as of divine origin.
Ezekiel's revelation of the theology underlying Israel's condition: the seriousness of sin, God's hatred and opposition to rebellious living, the centrality to all of life of being God's name-bearer in this world remind the reader over and over of how tolerance and casualness with regard to lack of covenant commitment and total obedience are toxic and ultimately lethal.
Block's presentation early on of the book as something of a first-person diary of date-stamped proclamations and dramatizations demonstrating the truth of Israel's standing and fate gives the book a very personal feel, which adds to its impact. By discussing the variety of interpretations for each of the complicated passages and then the reasons for the interpretation he feels best captures how to understand that passage increases the reader's overall perspective on the text as well as a better understanding of what Block is proposing as a preferred view.
Reading the daily news about conflict in Iraq (Babylono), Mosul (Nineveh), battles in Aleppo, and challenges in the streets of the capital, not far from the Chebar canal, it seems so perfectly timely to read the accounts of a on-the-seen reporter of the similar events, removed in time, but with the reminder that the causes are not fundamentally militaristic, economic, geopolitical or sectarian -- they are spiritual, they are driven by God's moral calendar that provides grace and opportunity for turning from rebellion, but not forever. Reading this book, at least in my experience, highlights a sobriety to the conflicts in the middle east and the confusion of the nations, including the U.S. in addressing them, and the great need for obedience and commitment and prayer among God's people. Ezekiel is a powerful minister in the face of spiritual rebellion and the catastrophes it ultimately brings. The price of the hardback may seem high when compared to other books, but when you begin to read it, you will be glad, I think, that you made the investment -- about the cost of a tank of gas for one's car -- in the book.