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Old Testament Survey

Ezekiel




Key Verses

36:24-30
36:33-35


Key Chapters

Chapters 36-39


Key Concepts

Restoration
Glory
Revelation
They “shall know I am the Lord”


Thoughts for Reading

Do you know the Lord?
Why does God look toward the re-institution of sacrifices?


Title

The book is name after is principal character and author, Ezekiel. The prophet’s name means "God strengthens." The Greek title merely transliterates the Hebrew.

Ezekiel came from a line of priests. Under the law, priests began their duties at the age of 30. The reference in 1:1 to the 30th year, most likely means Ezekiel’s age at the time of his call.

The prophet’s ministry occurs during the exile (593 - 562 B.C.). Ezekiel, himself, dates almost all of his messages based upon the exile of King Jehoiachin, which commenced in 597 B.C. Thirteen of the messages are dated precisely to the day, month and year of the King’s exile. Interestingly enough, although the dates are tied to Jehoiachin’s exile, Ezekiel never mentions the release of the king in 560 B.C.

Ezekiel was part of the second exile to Babylon (597 B.C.). His ministry commenced about five years later (Ezek 1:2; 8:1). Ezekiel’s messages were about the impending doom of Jerusalem, a strange message to people already in exile. But, there was a continual note of exhortation and hope which looked forward to the conclusion of the exile and the release of the captives to return home.

The prophet’s visions arranged by date are:

The visions of Ezekiel
Vision Reference Date
Chariot Vision 1:1-3 June 593 B.C.
Call to be a Watchman 3:16 June 593 B.C.
Temple Vision 8:1 August/Sept 592 B.C.
Discourse with Elders 20:1 August 591 B.C.
Second Siege of Jerusalem 24:1 January 588 B.C.
Judgment on Egypt 29:1 January 587 B.C.
Judgment of Tyre 26:1 March/April 587/6 B.C.
Judgment on Egypt 30:20 April 587 B.C.
Judgment on Egypt 31:1 June 587 B.C.
Lament over Egypt 32:17 April 586
Fall of Jerusalem 33:21 Dec/Jan 586/5 B.C.
Lament over Pharaoh 32:1 March 585
New Temple Vision 40:1 April 573
Judgment on Egypt 29:17 April 571 B.C.

As can be seen from the above chart, the prophet’s visions are not recorded entirely chronologically. The listing of the visions also provides a general outline of the book, although there is more to the book than this:

PURPOSES

Think back on our trip through Jewish history. No sooner has God led the people out of Egypt than they turn from Him to make a golden calf. “Ten times” the people murmur against God in their wilderness travels. They enter the promised land and fail to obey the command to drive out the pagan inhabitants. The period of the Judges witnesses the repeat of the salvation - sin - servitude - supplication - salvation cycle time and again. Saul loses his kingship because he will not obey God. The northern tribes revolt and establish a “fake” method of worship. They are carried into captivity. The prophets come and preach a message of repentance. Judah does not listen, and some are carried into captivity, like Daniel, King Jehoiachin, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah preaches to a nation about to be destroyed. Ezekiel preaches to those carried into captivity.

Daniel was God’s spokesman in the courts of the kings of Babylon.

Ezekiel was God’s voice to the Jews in captivity.

No one listens!

False prophets and idolatry carry the day. Judah, it thinks, is the nation of God and God would not allow these things to happen.

Ezekiel’s messages are a final warning to the nation. God’s sovereignty is emphasized through the words of judgment and restoration. The visions stress the responsibility of the individuals making up the nation. It is not the “nation” which is at fault, but the individual people of the nation. As the people travel, so travels the nation.

Ezekiel’s task is to act as the “watchman” of the nation. His task is to warn the people. He is not responsible for their decision, but he is responsible in God’s eyes to deliver the message of imminent judgment.

Ezekiel 3:19, 21
Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

Ezekiel uses much symbolic action to convey his message. These include:

Ezekiel’s messages were both dramatic and dynamic. And, still, the people failed to listen.

Jesus in Ezekiel

The prophets of this general period all see Jesus as the branch or twig. Ezekiel’s vision sees the tender sprig planted on a high, lofty mountain (17:23, 24). This may be compared to the Branch of Isaiah 11;1, Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15, and Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12. Ezekiel also see Jesus as the King Who owns the right to govern (21:26, 27) and as the Good Shepherd (34:11-31), a familiar picture of Jesus.

While Christ offered the final, single sacrifice, the nation of Israel will offer sacrifices during the millennium. These are the Jewish memorial equal to our Lord’s Supper.

This is against the background of the glory of God departing from the Temple (Chp 11). The fate of the Temple and Jerusalem were sealed. What a terrible moment and vision this must have been for the prophet. The cloud which led the Israelites through the Exodus and which filled the Temple at Solomon’s dedication, now departs the Jewish nation.

At the same time, the end of the book foresees the wonderful restoration of the nation. The Millennial Temple is described in chapters 40-42, the reign of Christ and the return of God’s glory is seen in chapter 43, and this entire section speaks of the memorial sacrifices to be offered during the millennium.

While chapter 34 looks toward the True Shepherd, Christ, the Shepherd needs a flock. In chapter 37, the prophet sees the restoration of the two divided kingdoms into a unified nation restored to their own land. This is the well-known vision of the valley of dry bones which come alive. This picture is the symbol of national restoration. The prophet again uses a picture symbol, two sticks which are tied together to become one (37:22).

In the midst of the prophecies of judgment against the nations is one of the two great pictures in Scripture of the fall of Satan. Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-17 both speak of the reason for Satan’s fall, his pride which failed to put God first.

Are you like Satan? Does your pride get in the way too often?

 

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