Ezekiel, whose name means "God is strong", was of the priestly race, and one of the number of the captives that were carried away to Babylon. From 592 to 570 he prophesied among the Jewish captives in Babylonia. His book is one of visions and symbolic actions. Under the symbol of a restored, glorious, ideal Jerusalem and Temple, Ezekiel foretells the establishment of the Church of Christ.
1. Ezekiels vision of God. He sees an approaching storm and the figures of four cherubim. At the centre a fire glowed and above, under the vault of heaven, was the Lord in human form. There was a terrifying whirling wheel with four faces. Who could look on this and live? It was Ezekiels job to become Gods messenger. Ezekiel 1:1-28; 2:1-9 & 3:1-27.
1. Ezekiel enacts the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. The props for the
drama were ready to hand: a large sun-dried brick on which Ezekiel drew an outline of the
city; and the metal plate on which they baked their loaves of bread. The people got the
message. Ezekiel 4:1-17 & 5:1-17.
2. Punishment for Israels idolatry. The acted message is reinforced by the spoken word. The peoples flagrant idolatry is about to bring desruction. Ezekiel 6:1-14 & 7:1-27.
3. Ezekiels vision of Jerusalem - its guilt and its punishment. Ezekiel is transported in the spirit to Jerusalem and set down by the temple. What he sees is a total departure from the true religion of Israel. Idolatry is rampant. God sees and judges. Only those who grieve for the loss of the true faith will be spared. Ezekiel 8:1-18.
4. The result of the idolatry is that God will finally depart from Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees two men who are advocating resistance to Babylon despite the insistence of Gods prophet. A man falls dead in confirmation of Gods word. But God is not making a complete end - the future lies with the exiles. Ezekiel 9:1-11; 10:1-22 & 11:1-25.
5. Ezekiel continues to make Gods word known, though most people refuse to listen. As he put together the bare necessities for flight, and as he broke through the mud-brick wall at night, Ezekiel was playing the part not just of an exile, but of King Zedekiah. Ezekiels prophecy proves accurate to the last detail. Ezekiel 12:1-28.
6. False prophets condemned. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were constantly undermined by false prophets who told people what they wanted to hear and claimed Gods authority for their message of false hope. Among them were prophetesses, practising magic and holding helpless individuals in thrall. Ezekiel 13:1-23.
7. God claims a unique place in the hearts of his people.Those who deny him his rightful place, worshipping other gods alongside, are destined for destruction. Ezekiel 14:1-23.
8. Jerusalem, a useless vine. The vine was a popular symbol for Israel. There is, by this time, no question of it bearing fruit. Ezekiel 15:1-8.
9. The unfaithful wife: An allegory. God took Israel up when she was nothing - an abandoned waif - and lavished his love on her, making her into a great and glorious nation. She owed him everything. But prosperity turned her head and, like a wife turned prostitute, she played fast and loose with foreign nations. God was forgotten; the covenant broken. God must punish Israel: but he will also restore her. Ezekiel 16:1-63.
1O. Two eagles and a vine. The first eagle is Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who took king Jehoiachin captive. The seed he plants is Zedekiah. But Zedekiah soon turned to Egypt (the second eagle) for help, bringing the Babylonians back to destroy Jerusalem. But God will take a cutting from the line of Israels kings (the cedar) which will take root. Ezekiel 17:1-24.
11. Each individual is accountable to God. Contrary to popular belief God is not so unjust as to punish one generation for the sins of another. He holds every man answerable for his own sins. It gives God no pleasure to sign the death warrant for any man. He asks that men should turn away from evil and live and he makes his standards plain. Ezekiel 18:1-32.
12. A lament for Israels rulers in the form of a poem. It is written in a dirge-rhythm. The lioness is Judah; the kings her cubs. The first cub is Jehoahaz carried off to Egypt by Pharaoh Necho. The second cub is Jehoiachin. Now thanks to Zedekiahs rebellion, both the nation and its line of kings will be destroyed. Ezekiel 19:1-14.
13. A history of the nations rebellion. Ezekiel turns from allegory to historical fact. From the time in Egypt and the wilderness right down to his own day, Israels history has been a weary repetition of idolatry and rebellion against God. All along God held back from making an end of the nation. But now he will cut off the rebels. His own he will restore. Ezekiel 20:1-44.
14. Gods judgement will sweep across the land from south to north. The sword of God is drawn against Israel. It is in the hands of the king of Babylon who will destroy the capital cities of both Ammon and Judah. (Five years after Jerusalem fell, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Ammon.) Ezekiel 2O:45-49 & 21:1-32.
15. The charges against Jerusalem. Gods people are guilty - guilty of bloodshed, oppression, extortion, bribery, and sexual sin; they have made a mockery of their religion. When God tests them by fire, no trace of genuine metal will be found. Every section of society shares the guilt: rulers, priests, prophets and common people alike. Ezekiel 22:1-31.
16. Parable of the two sisters, Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah is Samaria, capital of Israel. Oholibah is Jerusalem. Both sisters behaved like common whores. Their appetite for their lovers (the pagans gods) is insatiable; their behaviour utterly disgusting. They have run, in turn, after Egypt and Assyria. Now Judah, outdoing her sister is running after Babylon. Jerusalem will share Samarias fate - shame and destruction at the hands of her latest lover. Her punishment is fully deserved. Ezekiel 23:1-49.
17. Jerusalem besieged; Ezekiels wife dies. The year is 588 B.C. Jerusalem is set on fire to burn. The very same day Ezekiels wife is suddenly taken from him. But God forbids him the customary forms of mourning. When news of the citys fall reaches those in exile, Ezekiel is at last able to speak freely. The judgement is over. Ezekiel 24:1-27.
1. Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia. These four nations were Israels closest
neighbours and her oldest enemies. All took vengeful delight in Israels downfall,
for which God will punish them. Ezekiel 25:1-17.
2. Tyre did not laugh long over Israels fate. Within a few months Nebuchadnezzers army was at her gates and for thirteen years she was under siege. Tyre was fabulously wealthy. A centre of trade with a fine double harbour. This chapter includes a lament for the king of Tyre whose pride proved to be his downfall. Ezekiel 26; 27 & 28:1-19.
3. Sidon, like Tyre, fell to Nebuchadnezzers army. This chapter includes a message of hope for Israel, Verses 25-26. Ezekiel 28:20-26.
4. Egypt. A collection of seven prophecies all but one carefully dated. (1) January 587 - By placing himself among the Gods Pharaoh has exposed his whole land to Gods anger. (2) New years day 572 - Ezekiel declares that Egypt will be Babylons next prey. (3) Undated - Ezekiel depicts the judgement Nebuchadnezzer will execute on Egypt and her allies. (4) April 587 - Pharaoh Hophras army have made a half-hearted attempt to relieve besieged Jerusalem but had been defeated. (5) June 587 - Egypt is likened to a great cedar tree. Because of its overbearing pride the tree will be felled. (6) March 585 - A lament for Pharoah. (7) March 585 - Egypt will join the other fallen nations. Ezekiel 29; 30; 31 & 32.
1. These early verses reiterate that already stated in 3:17-21 and 18:5-29. Ezekiel
2. The exiles hear that Jerusalem has fallen. The news did not take Ezekiel by surprise. Those left behind in Judah, far from repenting, were busy annexing other peoples property. And in Babylonia the exiles who seemed to lap up Ezekiels words came simply for entertaiment. They neither believed them nor acted on them. Ezekiel 33:21-33.
3. God denounces the leaders and people of Israel. Both shepherds and sheep come in for condemnation. They have greedily, cruelly, selfishly exploited those committed to their care. But God will be a true shepherd, bringing his scattered flock back to good pasture. Ezekiel 34:1-31.
4. Prophecy against Edom. Edom is marked out for destruction, because of her callous reaction to Israels downfall. She not only gloated, but planned to make capital out of it by seizing the land. Ezekiel 35:1-15.
5. The return to the homeland. Gods people are coming home. Israels defeat has made men despise the God of Israel as powerless. Their return will vindicate his honour. The nations will know, Gods people will know, that he is the Lord. Those who returned from exile were permanently cured from idolatry. Ezekiel 36:1-38.
6. The vision of the valley of dry bones. After ten years in exile, and with Jerusalem destroyed the people have given up hope. The nation is dead. But God can take even skeletons and make them into a living army. Ezekiel plays his part by making Gods word known, but it is the Spirit of God who gives life. Israel will be remade and live again. The return is only a foretaste of all God has in store for his people. Ezekiel 37:1-28.
7. A prophecy against Gog. The sons of Noah gave their names to Indo- European peoples on the Black Sea/Caucasus region, on the northern fringe of the then known world. Ezekiel pictures an invasion of these barbaric hordes from the north led by an unidentified Gog who may be a symbol of the forces of evil. Ezekiel 38:1-23 & 39:1-29.
8. The nine final chapters of Ezekiels book detail his vision of the temple and ends with God returning in glory to a new temple - God in the midst of his people again, never more to depart. In chapter 47 there is a new and glorious visionout of Gods temple flows a great life-giving river bordered by trees whose fruit is for food and whose leaves are for healing (see Revelation 22:1-2). Ezekiel 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47 & 48.