The Holy Prophet Ezekiel Ezekiel was the son of a priest from the town of Sarir. He was taken into captivity in Babylon with King Jehoiachim and many other Israelites. Ezekiel prophesied for twenty-seven years in captivity. He was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. While Jeremiah taught and prophesied in Jerusalem, so Ezekiel taught and prophesied in Babylon. The prophecies of Jeremiah were known in Babylon, and the prophecies of Ezekiel were known in Jerusalem. Both of these holy men agreed in their respective prophecies, and both were mistreated and tortured by the unbelieving Jewish people. St. Ezekiel had fearful and unheard- of visions. By the river Chebar, Ezekiel saw the heavens opened, and a cloud and fire and lightening, and four wild creatures like molten copper [Ezekiel 1: 4]. One creature had the face of a man, the second the face of a lion, the third the face of a calf [ox], and the fourth the face of an eagle [Ezekiel 1: 10]. The face of the man signified the Lord Incarnate as a man; the face of the lion, His divinity; the face of the calf, His sacrifice; and the face of an eagle, His Resurrection and Ascension. Another time, he was shown a vision of the resurrection of the dead. The prophet saw a valley full of dry, dead bones, and when the Spirit of God descended upon them they came to life and rose to their feet [Ezekiel 37:1-10]. He also saw the most terrible destruction of Jerusalem, when the wrath of God slew all but those who had been marked with the Greek letter Tau [Ezekiel 9: 1-7]–which corresponds to our letter “T,” which is also the sign of the Cross. The malice of the Jews did not spare even this holy man. Infuriated at him for having rebuked them, the Jews tied him to the tails of horses and tore him apart. He was buried in the same sepulchre as Shem, the Son of Noah.
The Venerable Simeon And John These two young men left their homes and relatives: Simeon left his aged mother, and John left his young wife. Both received the monastic tonsure at the hands of Abbot Nicon in the Monastery of St. Gerasimus, and withdrew into the desert, where they lived an austere life of self denial for many years. They chastised their bodies with rigorous asceticism to the point that they resembled two withered trees. One day Simeon said to John that, according to God’s command, he must depart from the desert and go among the people and serve God there. John gave him this counsel: “Guard your heart against all that you will see in the world. Whatever you touch with your hand, do not allow it to touch your heart. Whatever you eat with your mouth, let not your heart take delight in it. When you use your feet to walk, let there be peace within you. And whatever you do outwardly, let not your mind be disturbed by it. Pray for me, that God does not separate us from one another in the future life.” St. Simeon accepted the counsel of his companion, embraced him and then left the desert and went among the people as a “fool for Christ,” to teach men and to convert them to the Faith of Christ. He pretended insanity before men, but his heart was a temple of the Holy Spirit, in which dwelt unceasing prayer. He possessed abundant grace from God. He could discern all the inner secrets of men, both close at hand or afar off, and had the power to heal men from evil spirits and sickness. Dancing in the streets like a madman, he would suddenly approach people and whisper their secret sins in their ears, and call them to repentance. He appeared to sinners in dreams, rebuked them, and called them to repentance. Thus it was with Bali, a pagan actor who openly mocked Christian shrines–St. Simeon appeared to him in a dream and rebuked him, and he repented and became a good Christian. A young libertine went out of his mind from sexual promiscuity. Confronting this insane young man, St. Simeon struck him across the face with his hand and said: “Do not commit fornication.” At that moment the unclean demon departed from the young man, and he became well.
Hymn Of Praise
The Holy Prophet Ezekiel
Ezekiel envisioned, by God’s will
A wide, wide, boundless field,
Filled to overflowing with dead men’s bones.
A voice from above Ezekiel heard:
“Son of man, these bones do you see?
As My guests on earth, they once lived;
At My table, I served them well
But few, as was meet, repaid Me.
Do you wish to make these dead bones live again?”
The prophet was frightened, and struck with wonder:
“Lord, Lord, You know,
They must arise, if You command.”
A quaking, rumbling and trembling then began,
The dead resurrected–the prophet, a miracle, witnessed!
The bones rose up, and joint met joint;
Then flesh, then sinews and skin enclosed them.
The prophet, trembling, witnessed the miracle
And glorified God with his heart and soul.
What the prophet of God discerned in the spirit
The resurrected Lord clearly showed.
When the Spirit wills, the dead will resurrect,
As in a new garment, in a living body,
And with Christ, the faithful will then rejoice,
To reign eternally in His Kingdom.
For the sake of his neighbor’s benefit, St. Simeon left his only friend in the world and his peaceful cell in the wilderness, and became as a fool. It is told how the Spartan King Lycerges also made a great sacrifice for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He issued strict laws, setting up a complete new system of educating the young, and instituting better order in the state. After he had issued these laws, he told his subjects that he desired to go to the shrine at Delphi, and required them to take an oath to faithfully adhere to his laws until his return. When all the citizens had taken the oath, Lycerges left his country but never returned, binding them to their oath forever. It is a great sacrifice to leave one’s homeland and voluntarily live in a strange country for the sake of the benefit of one’s neighbor. But how much greater a sacrifice it is to voluntarily leave one’s mind, and continually pretend before men to be a madman! Is not madness the most foreign land known to man? To live in that terrible, strange land year after year–all for the benefit of one’s neighbor!
To contemplate the miraculous crossing of Israel over the Jordan River (Joshua 3):
- How by the power of God and through Joshua, the waters of the Jordan parted and the priests and the people crossed over;
- How the priests, with the Ark of the Covenant, stood on dry land in the midst of the Jordan, while the people crossed over;
- How even I need not be afraid of the floods of this world, as long as I hold the covenant of God firmly in the center of my being, in my heart.
About the false teachers
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
Man is at war in this world. The battle is continual and the enemies are numerous. False teachers are among the most dangerous enemies. Only if the mind of man is directed toward the Living God will he be safeguarded from these dangerous enemies. False teachers are either as blind men or robbers: the first, because of their blindness, lead both themselves and others into destruction; the others, because of their malice, intentionally lead others astray and consign their souls and bodies to the fires of hell. The Lord Himself prophesied: Many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many (Matthew 24:11). The apostle only confirms the words of the Lord. Both false prophets and false teachers will sow the seeds of destruction among the people. These are damnable heresies by which some will deny their Lord, Who redeemed mankind by His Most-pure Blood. Many false teachers have already appeared and sown many heresies, destructive as cockles, throughout the world. Brethren, if you know those damnable heresies which the Holy Fathers condemned at the Councils, then you will be able to recognize the principle seed of poison which the devil, through his servants, sows in the field wherein the Savior has sown pure wheat. But whether you know or not, direct your mind toward the Lord; guard yourself with the sign of the Cross; call upon the Holy and All-pure One [The Theotokos] and the holy God-pleasers, and especially upon your guardian angel for aid–and do not be afraid. In addition to this, always ask the Church, and the Church, being greatly experienced and victorious against all falsehoods, will tell you what is true. For you are of yesterday, while the Church is from time immemorial. Your memory is shorter than the memory of the Church. O Lord Jesus, You are the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life. O Lord, do not let us follow false teachers and thus fall away from You. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.