Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Preaching Ezekiel 02

Continued

3. It is a book that includes a number of difficult, sometimes obscure and hard to understand passages
The final chapters are particularly difficult but all the way through there are difficulties. If we are going to preach those passages we need to be pretty sure what thy are about and how they fit in with the rest of Scripture. We are likely to be more sure footed later in a pastorate than early on.

4. Like many prophecies, judgement is the major theme of Ezekiel and so it needs to be handled with great care
Our congregations need to hear about judgement but a solid diet of judgement themes can be demanding on both preacher and congregation. Donald MacLeod again

When we are thinking of doing a series of sermons on one of the prophets, this is something we must ponder carefully. If we are going to be faithful to our text, our sermons are going to be critical and judgmental; and if we are going to expound consecutively, this is the diet our people are going to have for weeks on end. The question is: Do they need it? 

5. For all these reasons and perhaps more the book is a rather unfamiliar one
Apart from Chapter 37 and may be the opening chapters and Chapters 18 and 33, people are not really familiar with the book. One writer has written

Probably no book of the Old Testament is as little read as this, and it may well be the least popular, as it is the least known of the Old Testament.

Speaking personally, I have been the minister in one charge for the last 27 years and so I have already been through almost all the New Testament and a great deal of the Old Testament, including Ezekiel. It was in my twenty third year of ministry that I began to tackle the book. I preached some 36 sermons on its 48 chapters. This involved preaching, usually, one sermon a chapter but I preached two sermons on Chapter 37, a whole sermon on 3:16-21 (on being a watchman) and only one sermon on 1:1-3:15; 3:22-5:27; 8/9; 10/11; 26/27; 30-32; 35/36 and 40-42. When you try to cover three chapters there is a lot of reading to do. We always have a consecutive reading so that allows more expected reading time by dropping it that week. Nevertheless that still leaves 95 difficult verses to cover and so I think we had four readings that morning, the first one being right at the beginning of the meeting and the fourth just before the sermon.
Because of the book's length I took it in about five or six unequal chunks over what turned out to be a period of about 3 years. We began April 23, 2006 and went on for 10 consecutive weeks covering the first 14 chapters. We then took a break over the summer, returning to it in October for another seven sermons on the next 8 chapters (15-22). I did another seven sermons in May-July of 2007 (Chapters 23-32) and a further five in the Autumn of that same year. It was a whole year later that I finally started on the final difficult chapters 38-44. I preached two in October and the final five early in 2009, the last being the first Sunday in February. Obviously, with the benefit of hindsight things could have been arranged better but that is the way it worked out.

Most helpful commentaries

Matthew Henry
Ezekiel (Commentary on the whole Bible) 1706
Patrick Fairbairn
Ezekiel and the book of his prophecy 1855
Denis Lane
The Cloud and the silver lining 1985
Douglas K Stuart
Communicator's Commentary Old Testament Volume 18 1989
Derek Thomas
God strengthens: Ezekiel simply explained (Welwyn series) 1993

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