Ezekiel Overview

Ezekiel is the 26th book of the Old Testament and Bible.

He is the 3rd of the 4 Major Prophets, so indicated because of the length of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel relative to the shorter “Minor Prophets.”

The Major Prophets in Review                   Dr. Harry Adams

Prophet:

Times:

Audience:

Main Emphasis:

Isaiah

740-680 BC

Judah

Salvation

Jeremiah

627-580 BC

Judah

Judgment

Ezekiel

593-571 BC

Exiles

Restoration

Daniel

605-535 BC

Exiles

Sovereignty

 

Ezekiel’s name means “God strengthens.”

Context of Ezekiel: There were 3 Babylonian invasions of Jerusalem: 605 B.C., 597 B.C., and then the complete sacking of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., which included the destruction of the Temple.

Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605 B.C. As a young leader, his ministry would be to court officials in Babylon and then Persia. Ezekiel pays tribute to Daniel in chapter 14 and 28. His prophecies are somewhat of an extension of Jeremiah’s.

Ezekiel was a 26 years old resident of Jerusalem during the second invasion in 597 B.C., 11 years before the final fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar. Half of Ezekiel is the foretelling of Jerusalem’s ultimate demise.

Ezekiel’s ministry was among the Judean captives. The people doubted his message of doom, even though they were already under Babylonian control! 

Ezekiel prophesied sometime between 595-586 B.C.

This book is the easiest of the Old Testament books to date, because of Ezekiel’s unique orderly sequence of dates. Each section of prophetic oracles begins with the year and the day of the month!

This book is about the glory of God!

The Key Phrase in Ezekiel occurs about 70 times: “You/They will know that I am the Lord.”

The theme is that Restoration follows repentance in exile.

Outline of Ezekiel:

Judgment on Judah                 Chapters 1-24

One word that occurs over and over again in Ezekiel is the word “wrath.”

The word wrath occurs more in Ezekiel than any other book: 30 times (26 of those occurrences are in the first 24 chapters). 

One of the 5 main themes of the Bible is that the holy God must and will judge sin. Never believe that sin is not a big deal. All sins of individuals will be judged; either at the cross or the Great White Throne Judgment/ Lake of Fire. But nations are judged within the pages of history.

It should be noted that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all write more about judgment on Israel/Judah than they do on the Gentiles!

For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?                          -I Peter 4:17

Judgment on Gentiles              Chapters 25-32

Interesting: follows nations surrounding Israel in a clockwise fashion: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Phistia, Tyre, Sidon, before concluding with Egypt.

Coming Restoration                 Chapters 33-48

There are some really cool things in those chapters!  

God will shepherd them; There will be a restored Temple in a restored land in the end times.

Key promise:

“You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.”                    -36:28

A Closer Look at Ezekiel:

1:1-2 

30th year       This is probably how old Ezekiel was when he received his call.

4:6     I saw visions of God! 5th year of Jehoichin’s exile; That would mean Ezekiel’s ministry started in 593 B.C.

1:3

Ezekiel was a priest, like Jeremiah, who became a prophet. As such we will see Ezekiel take a keen interest in the priesthood, the temple, sacrifices, and the Shekinah (glory) of God.

Ezekiel had his visions in Babylon by the Chebar Canal! The Chebar was the grand canal of the Babylonians, stretching from Babylon through the city of Nippur to the Southeast. It connected one point of the Euphrates river to another lower down.

Interestingly, near Nippur, the remains of a large Jewish colony have been found. That could be where Ezekiel lived!

1:4ff  First vision

Description of Cherubim (see also chapter 10, 10:15)

Four living creatures: Each with four faces: Man, Lion, Ox, Eagle.

Man = intelligence; Lion = rule; Ox = power; Eagle = nobility

Obvious reference to the glory of God, referred often in this book! (1:28)

We see figures like this again in the Book of Revelation

1:26   Form with the appearance of a human on the throne high above

2:1     Man on the throne speaks to Ezekiel, calls him the “son of man.”

2:2     Spirit enters Ezekiel while he was being spoken to!

2:3     Ezekiel will be sent to the Israelites and the rebellious nations

2:7     Speak to them whether they listen or not!

3:5-6  People of different languages would listen if you went to them

3:7     But you are going to Israel, who will not listen!

3:14-15        The Spirit lifted Ezekiel up; he leaves in bitterness and with an angry spirit! Wound up with the exiles at Tel-abib by the Chedar Canal: he sat there stunned for 7 days!

3:16-27                 Ezekiel to be a watchman!

God tells us what to say, warning people of sin; If we fail to warn them, we will be responsible for their blood! If they don’t repent, they will die for their iniquity. But we will have saved our own life. If they do repent, we will also have saved them!

Chapter 4   Ezekiel is called to Drama ministry!

4:1-3  Ezekiel constructs a city like Jerusalem and destroys it!

4:4-8  Ezekiel has to lay on his left side for 390 days, and his right for 40.

390 years represented the number of year Israel had sinned since Solomon’s days; 40 may represent the particularly wicked rule of Manasseh.

5:10-12 indicates there will be a famine so severe they’ll eat their own children: Fulfilled in Babylonian Captivity. They had defiled the sanctuary with detestable practices and abominations. 1/3rd of people will die by plague; 1/3rd die by sword; 1/3rd will be scattered.

6:8     HOPE – Yet I will leave a remnant! Fulfilled in Babylonian Captivity.

8:18   God’s response to sin and idolatry in the land is impending wrath.

9:4     God remembers those who sigh and groan over sin!

All will be slaughtered except the remnant! If that was happening now, would you and I be among the marked?

11:14-25     HOPE for the remnant: one day they’ll return!

 This includes New Covenant promises in verses 19-20! But there is no hope for those who won’t repent!

Judgment fulfilled in Babylonian captivity; restoration of land awaits millennium.

14:6 The call to repent, which will be demonstrated by turning from their idols!

14:14 Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were interceding for this city, judgment will still come. Compare with Abraham interceding for Sodom for Lot’s sake. Shows the high esteem the people had for Daniel, since he was a contemporary of Ezekiel.

14:22 But even amidst wrath there is hope!            

16:59-63      You have broken the covenant, but I will remember the Covenant AND I will establish an everlasting covenant. Ezekiel joins Isaiah and Jeremiah in speaking of the coming New Covenant that Messiah will bring. And refers to when God will make atonement for all they have done!

Chapter 18 helps us understand that the generational curse spoken of in the 10 commands need not define a person.

Do not make an idol for yourself…you must not bow down to them or worship them…for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the father’s sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. -Exodus 20-4-6

Ezekiel 18:1-3       Stop saying the Proverb!

Read verses 19-23           Son does not bear the guilt of the father

Read verses 30-32           I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, says God.

22:30 I searched for a man who would stand in the gap for them but found no one.

I wonder if God views me as a man who will stand in the gap for this nation? For this community? For this church? For my family? Again, it makes us think of Abraham interceding for Sodom for Lot’s sake.

Chapter 23 presents the interesting picture of 2 immoral sisters: Samaria and Jerusalem. Again, he refers to all of the tribes under Joseph and Judah.

Chapter 24   The boiling pot from the North is coming: Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Chapters 25-32      Judgment against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Egypt

26:14 Said of Tyre, it will be “a bare rock, a place fishermen spread their nets, never to be rebuilt!” In 332 B.C. the armies of Alexander destroyed the city on the shore and scraped the debris into the sea to make a causeway for a future fortress.

Chapter 28   This chapter starts by talking about Tyre’s Prince, but ends with words about the Prince of Darkness. The king was held accountable for his sinful pride and deeds, but Satan was the power behind Tyre’s throne.                 

You were the seal of perfection; Full of wisdom, perfect in beauty; You were in Eden, the garden of God; You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you; You were blameless from the day you were created until wickedness was found in you; I expelled you from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub.

Key: verse 17        Your heart became proud because of your beauty…

After pride, corruption. So I threw you down to the earth. Like father (Satan), like son (King of Tyre). See also Isaiah 14:12-15.

28:25-26               Prophecy about Israel’s re-gathering

Through these chapters there are many references to the Pit, or Sheol, and the deepest part of it the lost dead go to.

33:1-13       Be a watchman for the people, man of God!

Sound the alarm to the unconverted, Christian! Sound the alarm to the backslidden professing Christian. Sound the alarm to the Lukewarm: Repent and live!

33:23-26     God guarantees judgment because of that generations’ sins.

Chapter 34   Ezekiel gives a compelling indictment of Israel’s leaders being poor shepherds; The good news is that Ezekiel prophesies about the Good Shepherd to come, and the new covenant He will bring. In verses 11-16 God promises He Himself will search for His sheep.

34:23-31      Now we are 3 for 3 in prophets talking about the coming Messiah and the coming New Covenant! These were the messages Israel was hearing before and during exile because of it’s sin.

36:22-23      Note what God says: I will act for the sake of My name! This is key to understanding how God can forgive His covenant people despite their many sins and not break His side of the covenant with them.

36:24-28      New heart!   New Spirit!  Re-gathering!  I will put My Spirit in you!

36:35           Return to Garden of Eden like conditions!

37:1-14        Key Passage: The Valley of Dry Bones comes alive during preaching!

Then Ezekiel talks of two sticks coming together, representing Judah and Joseph coming together again one day!

37:22-28      Covers everything that unfolds in what we now think of as the first and second coming of Christ!

Involves the land promised to Abraham, the throne promised to David, and the coming Messiah who will give people new hearts and put His Spirit within.

It may be that David himself will get to rule under Messiah’s authority!

Chapters 38-39      The End Time Battle with Gog/Magog!

A great army will attack Israel from the North, united with Middle Eastern powers. Seems to involve Russia somehow, and Iran (Persia), etc…

Might refer to the Battle of Armageddon spoken of in Revelation 16, since Revelation 20:8 speaks of Gog/ Magog! This could also be a war just before the start of the 7-year Tribulation, or during it’s first 3 and a half years.

It could be that the one world government led by the antichrist will come to power in the midst of this Middle East Crisis, and on the other side of it make a peace treaty with Israel. Perhaps he’ll claim credit for what God has really done:  defeating the invading nations.

38:18 What happens when people mess with Israel? God’s wrath flares up!

38:23 Don’t forget God’s purposes in this: Everything is about the display of God’s glory; they will know!

39:11 Hamon-gog equals hordes of gog! A kind of reverse Arlington cemetery! You don’t want to be buried in Hamon-gog!

Chapters 40ff         Great detail of future Temple/ restoration of worship

Chapters 40 to 43 describe this coming temple as the center of worship.

Chapters 44 to 46 describe the characteristics of the worship.

Chapters 47 and 48 give the final division of the land to the tribes.

It sure seems as if this is talking about a temple bigger than any ever built that will be around during the Millennium.

This itself creates challenges that are hard to resolve, like why there would be blood sacrifices after Christ has offered the ultimate sacrifice.

The best guess is to remember that the sacrifices in the Old Testament didn’t really save: God accepted them because they looked forward to what Christ had done. If there are actual animal sacrifices in the Millennium, they will look back on what Christ has done (a memorial).

Walvoord points out that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and Malachi also seem to point to sacrifices then. Here’s the key thing:

In Ezekiel 8-11 we had read of God’s glory leaving Solomon’s Temple due to their sins. In 37:26-27, though, we read that the glory will return, the presence of God will be with men!

Chapter 47   Life giving river referred to, and a “tree of life.”

The last verse in the book refers to the future New Jerusalem, naming the place “Yahweh is there!”