Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why was Ezekiel called "Son of man"?

Question from Mark:

Kimberly and I are doing the daily reading in Ezekiel together.... Just one comment: I couldn’t help notice that God actually called Ezekiel “Son of Man”. I remember that Jesus called himself this many times, so I wondered if there was any significance to Ezekiel being called this. Did God call other prophets by this name?

Answer from Pastor Bob:

You made a good observation about Ezekiel's use of "son of man." This term is used by God to address Ezekiel over 90 times in the book, but "son of man" is rarely used anywhere else in the Old Testament.
In Hebrew, to say "son of ..." is a way of saying it belongs to something or to emphasize its association with something. For example, Isaiah 5 describes a fertile hill literally in the Hebrew as "a hill, the son of fatness." The phrase "son of fatness" is a Hebrew idiom for "very fat" or very fertile. So when God calls Ezekiel "son of man," it is a way of saying he is completely a man, a mere human creature in contrast to the Creator. So the term "son of man" in Ezekiel stresses Ezekiel's humility in contrast to God's glory.
Daniel 7:13 uses the term "one like a son of man" when describing a person coming in glory as God on the clouds, to stress that the Messiah is both divine and human. When Jesus used the term "the Son of Man" to describe himself, Jesus was referring to Daniel 7:13, not Ezekiel's use of the term.

8 comments:

  1. I like your answer, Pastor Bob, it's concise yet sufficiently informative. It makes me want to delve deeper into Scripture & history for more understanding of ancient Hebrew idioms.

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  2. Pastor Bob, how do we know Jesus was using Son of Man as per Daniel's usage, rather than that for Ezekiel?

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  3. Hello, Flying Sqrl. I noticed Pastor Bob missed your question here, so let me give you my answer. I believe we can understand Jesus' use of "Son of Man" as more in line with how Daniel used the title because of the context in which he used the phrase, and because of all that he said of himself elsewhere. As with so many things, context is key. Good question, though!

    Here are a few references:

    Matt 19:28
    Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Matt 16:28
    I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

    Matt 16:27
    For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

    Matt 24:30-31
    "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

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  4. I think Jesus refers to Son of Man when He refers to His prophetic self, Ezekiel being a prophet, because Jesus is not using it as an idiom meaning "very much" as pastor bob said.

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  5. Also it's "like THE Son of man" and why only Ezekiel as a son of man? Obviously there is a specific connection between Jesus' ministry and Exekiel's prophecy

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  6. Looks like I am about a year late for this conversation. lol :) But my question is, why is te term only used in reference to Jesus and Ezekiel. I recognize the difference between the prophet's reference and the messiahs, but why is the term a son of man not used for any other individual in the bible? like Daniel, or David, or even Malichi? What does the term have to do with Ezekiel specifically? Is it a nickname like the sons of thunder?

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  7. He called him Son of Man because Jesus and Ezikiel

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