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Getting to Know the Bible: Ezekiel Overview

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Ezekiel. But before we get to Ezekiel 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Ezekiel. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Ezekiel, as we prepare to behold and discern Ezekiel, beginning with Ezekiel 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: The fourth book of the Major Prophets; the twenty-sixth book of the Old Testament

Authors: Ezekiel

Date of Writing: Approximately between 593–571 BC, .during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews

Audience: Jews who were taken captive to Babylonia in 597 BC.

Theme: Restoration

Original Language: Hebrew

Genre: Allegory; Autobiography; Narrative; Oracles; Poetry; Prophecy

Purpose of Writing: Ezekiel ministered to his generation who were both exceedingly sinful and thoroughly hopeless. By means of his prophetic ministry he attempted to bring them to immediate repentance and to confidence in the distant future. He taught the following:

(1) God works through human messengers

(2) Even in defeat and despair God's people need to affirm God's sovereignty

(3) God's Word never fails

(4) God is present and can be worshiped anywhere

(5) People must obey God if they expect to receive blessings

(6) God's Kingdom will come.

Summary: How can you cope with a world gone astray? Ezekiel, destined to begin his life's ministry as a priest at age thirty, was uprooted from his homeland and marched off to Babylon at the age of twenty-five. For five years he languished in despair. At age thirty a majestic vision of Yahweh's glory captivated his being in Babylon. The priest/prophet discovered God was not confined to the narrow strictures of Ezekiel's native land. Instead, He is a universal God who commands and controls persons and nations. In Babylon, God imparted to Ezekiel His Word for the people. His call experience transformed Ezekiel. He became avidly devoted to God's Word. He realized he had nothing personally to assist the captives in their bitter situation, but he was convinced God's Word spoke to their condition and could give them victory in it. Ezekiel used various methods to convey God's Word to his people. He used art in drawing a depiction of Jerusalem, symbolic actions and unusual conduct to secure attention. He cut his hair and beard to demonstrate what God would do to Jerusalem and its inhabitants.

Overview: Ezekiel is one of the longest books in the Bible, consisting of 48 chapters collected thematically regarding the prophet's writings. Interpreters generally divide Ezekiel's writing into four major sections.

The first section covers the prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction (Ezekiel 1—24). Ezekiel is called as a prophet in a vision (Ezekiel 1) and given instructions from the Lord (Ezekiel 2—3). Ezekiel reveals Jerusalem's upcoming judgment (Ezekiel 4—7), including a lengthy vision of the abomination in Jerusalem and the temple (Ezekiel 8—11). Various teachings regarding this judgment follow the vision (Ezekiel 12—24).

The second major section covers prophecies to other nations (Ezekiel 25—32). The Lord speaks through Ezekiel regarding seven groups: Ammon, Moab and Seir, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. This passage also includes an interlude regarding future restoration for Israel (Ezekiel 28:25–26).

The third section focuses on Israel's repentance (Ezekiel 33). Though only one chapter in length, these verses mark a turning point from Ezekiel's focus on judgment to Israel's future hope.

The fourth section details these future hopes for Israel (Ezekiel 34—48). Israel will be reestablished in the Promised Land (Ezekiel 34—37). Their enemies will be destroyed by the supernatural power of the Lord (Ezekiel 38—39). A new temple will be established with true worship restored in the land (Ezekiel 40—46). The land will be reapportioned to the people of the Lord, with the Lord living among them (Ezekiel 47—48).

Foreshadowing: Ezekiel 34 is the chapter wherein God denounces the leaders of Israel as false shepherds for their poor care of His people. Instead of caring for the sheep of Israel, they cared for themselves. They ate well, were well-clothed and well-cared for by the very people they had been placed over (Ezekiel 34:1-3). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep and who protects them from the wolves who would destroy the flock (John 10:11-12). Verse 4 of chapter 34 describes people whom the shepherds failed to minister to as weak, sick, injured and lost. Jesus is the Great Physician who heals our spiritual wounds (Isaiah 53:5) by His death on the cross. He is the one who seeks and saves that which is lost (Luke 19:10).

Application: The book of Ezekiel reminds us to seek out the Lord in those dark times when we feel lost, to examine our own lives, and to align ourselves with the one true God.

Key Verses (ESV):

Ezekiel 2:3–6: "And he said to me, 'Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, "Thus says the LORD GOD." And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.'" Ezekiel 18:4: "Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die." Ezekiel 28:12–14: "Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the LORD GOD: \ `You were the signet of perfection, \ full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. \ You were in Eden, the garden of God; \ every precious stone was your covering, \ sardius, topaz, and diamond, \ beryl, onyx, and jasper, \ sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; \ and crafted in gold were your settings \ and your engravings. \ On the day that you were created \ they were prepared. \ You were an anointed guardian cherub. \ I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; \ in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.'" Ezekiel 33:11: "Say to them, As I live, declares the LORD GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?" Ezekiel 48:35: "The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There."

*Note: The book of Ezekiel pronounces judgment on both Israel and surrounding nations, but it also provides a vision of the future millennial kingdom that complements and adds to the vision of other Old and New Testament texts.

Ezekiel lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon at a settlement along the river Chebar called Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15), less than one hundred miles south of Babylon. The invading Babylonians brought about ten thousand Jews to the village in 597 BC, including Ezekiel and the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8–14).

Ezekiel’s prophecy began a mere five years into his time at Tel-abib (Ezekiel 1:2), and he continued to prophesy among the people for at least twenty-two years (29:17). Because he spoke to a people whom God had exiled due to their continued rebellion against Him, a majority of Ezekiel’s message communicates judgment for sins committed (1:1–32:32).

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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