Dr. Hilber Publishes New Book on Preaching Ezekiel

02-12-2020


by Audrey Wierenga (B.A. ’18)

In August 2019, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary faculty member Dr. John Hilber, professor of Old Testament, published his fourth book, entitled "Ezekiel: A Focused Commentary for Preaching and Teaching." While Hilber never imagined himself writing a commentary on Ezekiel, the project was originally part of a series through a local bookstore. When that series was discontinued, Hilber found himself with 24 chapters of material and nowhere to put them.

"I wasn't just going to let the work go to waste," Hilber said. "Ezekiel is the second largest book in the Bible after Jeremiah. It has very difficult, vociferous language."

The book, edited by Dr. John H. Walton, an Old Testament scholar and professor at Wheaton College, is described by Hilber as somewhat critical of some scholars' preconceived notions on the end times.

"There is a long-standing tradition in the church of very sensationalized, Left Behind-style eschatology," Hilber explained. "This book is not another attempt at commentary for a scholarly guild, but it's more about how Christians today can be shaped by Ezekiel and how this prophet plays into the end times."

One of the most helpful features of the commentary are what Hilber calls "special topics," a set of about 21 short essays related to the message of Ezekiel. They can also act as standalone topics that put the Scripture in context.

"One example is called 'Israel and the Land,'" Hilber said. "It talks directly to those who believe God is not finished with Israel. It deconstructs the political implications of Zionism with scriptural ones."

Hilber also believes that Ezekiel is relevant for preaching in the 21st century. "Ezekiel takes rampant consumerism and materialism head-on," Hilber remarked. "He also addresses the way politics intermingles with religion."

These are some pretty hard-hitting topics for a congregation, but Hilber believes they are worth being preached. "Going through this process has been confirming," Hilber said. "Similar to Jesus' preaching, Ezekiel reserves his most loaded criticism for power brokers in the church. It's a sobering reminder for people with power and influence, including professors."