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BOOK : Ezekiel

Description : The third of the so-called ‘major' prophets

Author: Ezekiel

Date written : possibly over a period between 593 and 571

Chapters : 48


Brief Synopsis:


•  Prophecies:

•  Against Israel warning if impending destruction of Jerusalem
•  Against surrounding nations
•  Consoling Israel (probably after the fall of Jerusalem


Outline :


Ch.1-24 Oracles of Judgment against Israel

Ch.1-3 Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision
Ch.4-5 Symbolic Acts Portraying the Siege of Jerusalem
Ch.6-7 Oracles Explaining Divine Judgment
Ch.8-11 Vision of the Corrupted Temple
Ch.12 Symbolic Acts Portraying Jerusalem's Exile
Ch.13-24 Oracles Explaining Divine Judgment

Ch. 25-32 Oracles of Judgment against the Nations

Ch.25 Against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia
Ch.26-28 Against Tyre
Ch.28 Against Sidon
Ch.28 A Note of Promise for Israel
Ch.29-32 Against Egypt

Ch.33-48 Oracles of Consolation for Israel

Ch.33 The Watchman
Ch.33 Jerusalem 's Fall Reported and Explained
Ch.34 The Lord as the Good Shepherd
Ch.35 Oracles against Edom
Ch.36 Consolations for the Mountains of Israel & Summary of Ezekiel's Theology
Ch.37 Vision of National Restoration
Ch.38-39 The Final Battle
Ch.40-48 Vision of Renewed Worship



Support Information:


a) Time Scales


597 Ezekiel deported to Babylon

593 Receives his call to be a prophet (1:1)

587 Fall of Jerusalem (33:21)

571 last dated oracle of Ezekiel (29:17)


b) Ezekiel's Life


•  He was among the Jews exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C.,
•  There among the exiles, as a priest, he received his call to become a prophet (see 1:1-3).
•  He was married (see 24:15-18),
•  He lived in a house of his own (see 3:24; 8:1) and, along with his fellow exiles, had a relatively free existence.

c) Four visions


•  chs. 1-3 – Vision of the Cherubim
•  8-11 – Vision of Glory and Godlessness
•  37:1-14 – Vision of Valley of Dry Bones

•  40-48 – Vision of the Temple being measured


d) 12 symbolic acts:


•  3:22-26 – to be silent except when a ‘word' comes
•  4:1-3 – the clay tablet picture
•  4:4-8 – laying on his side
•  4:9-11 – measuring out food
•  4:12-14- eating defiled food
•  5:1-3 – shaving his head
•  12:1-16 – packing for exile
•  12:17-20 – shuddering when eating & drinking
•  21:6-7 – groaning before the people
•  21:18-24 – marking out two roads
•  24:15-24 – groaning before the death of his wife
•  37:15-28 – writing on sticks

e) Note the Departing (and returning) Glory of God 


9:3 & 10:4 from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. 

10:18,19 from over the threshold of the temple and stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the LORD's house,

11:23 from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it.

43:1-5 coming from the east…entered the temple through the gate facing east and filled the temple

44:4 glory fills the temple



Key Verses :


597 Ezekiel exiled. 593BC – Ezekiel's first big vision of God

1:1-3 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River , the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth of the month--it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin-- the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was upon him.

His call

2:3-7 He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen--for they are a rebellious house--they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.

With the exiles

3:14-17 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River . And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days--overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel ; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

He will only speak when God gives him a word

3:22-27 The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, "Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you." So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the LORD was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River , and I fell facedown. Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: "Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.




The biggest difficulty (others may disagree) is in respect of the last nine chapters of the book, all about the ‘future'(?) temple. Here is an expanded section of the Outline above:

Ch. 40-48 Vision of Renewed Worship

Ch.40 Wall around the temple
Ch.41 Temple exterior
Ch.42 Temple interior
Ch.43 The return of God's glory
Ch.44 The priesthood
Ch.45 Land allotment
Ch.46 The duties of the prince
Ch.47-48 Life-giving water & Land allotment

The big question is that of interpretation: when does all this refer to? The problem is that we are really not given any clue and perhaps for this reason various schools of thought have arisen as follows:


a) Literal prophetic interpretation

- supposed to be a blue print for the rebuilding of the temple when the exiles returned.

b) Symbolic Christian interpretation

- the vision had its fulfilment symbolically in the Christian church

c) Dispensationalist interpretation

- literalist and futurist – refers to the last days when prophecies of Israel 's glorious future are fulfilled

d) Apocalyptic interpretation

- Ezekiel's pattern for the Messianic age that was to come.


We simply mention these for those who wish to do their own research. Whether any or all of these are true only time will tell. Perhaps the safest thing to say is that when so many pages are given to a subject, even though we may not understand it, it does signify it is important to God. The temple and the future of Israel are important in God's economy and it appears that His intent is that His glory will return to His temple. (Now of course that has happened in the Christian church – we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.)



Concluding Comments


•  Ezekiel is a book full of different sorts of revelation – visions and words (spoken and acted) nd revelations through pictures.
•  Although there was a lot of historical narrative in Jeremiah, the things that happened to him (persecution, imprisonment etc), the ‘actions' in Ezekiel are all about different ways of conveying the message of the Lord, i.e. action prophecies.
•  While Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem, Ezekiel was an exile carried into Babylonia by one of Nebuchadnezzar's earlier expeditions and it was there he prophesied, mostly about Jerusalem, in the midst of the exiles there.
•  Although Isaiah has a brief revelation of heaven (Isa 6), Ezekiel has more than one revelation of the heavenly experience.
•  Ezekiel is a fascinating book. The fact that much of it arose about the critical time of change for Jerusalem should make it particularly significant in our understanding.
•  As with Jeremiah, the number of warnings about the impending doom of Jerusalem shows a God of patience and compassion and the Lord's declaration (3 times) should always be before us: I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezek 18:32 & 18:23 & 33:11)
•  The prophetic words to the surrounding nations remind us that God holds nations accountable for the way they treat His chosen people.
•  Mix these in with the many action snippets here and we have a book that is like a rainbow of prophetic colours; beautiful and mysterious, and definitely worth reading (and worth the effort that will be required with it!)


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