The Dangers of studying Ezekiel

Somewhat recently Douglas Mangham placed on his blog the following quote from the Talmud about studying Ezekiel:

“The rabbis taught: It happened once that a certain child, who was reading in his teacher’s house in the Book of Ezekiel, was pondering over ‘Hashmal, and there came out fire from ‘Hashmal and burnt him, and they sought in consequence to conceal the Book of Ezekiel. (b. Hagigah 13a)”

Mangham goes on further to say: “The rabbis prohibited anyone under age 30 from studying Ezekiel because of this incident. One needed to be sufficiently mature in the study of Torah before they would expound the secrets of Ezekiel 1, especially the divine chariot. So if your Bible reading plan takes you through Ezekiel, be careful and you may want to implement the buddy system. Never read alone. Just in case.”

Seeing as I spend much of my time studying the book of Ezekiel, I had to smile at the warning. At the same time…

A group of pastors in the area also recently preached on Ezekiel. I heard that some of the older and more experienced pastors pulled out of the preaching series. They did not feel that they could take on the book of Ezekiel.

It makes me wonder sometimes who I am to say something about Ezekiel- or even if I’ll like what I discover in the book. It is a dangerous book – it presents a God who is complicated and doesn’t relate to His people in ways that we expect. In that way, it challenges our assumptions, but I don’t see that so much as dangerous – instead it seems healthy. What good is a biblical understanding that is never challenged and never grows? And what do you really have on a God who is simple to understand?

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