Background • His name means “God strengthens.” • Ezekiel lived during the last years of the kingdom of Judah. • In 597 BC (2nd stage), Nebuchadnezzar carried Ezekiel, along with King Jehoiachin, away into Babylonian captivity. • Nine years after Daniel was taken and eleven years before Jerusalem fell.
Background • He was 30 years old when God called him to prophesy; continued for 20 years. • In the ninth year of Ezekiel’s captivity, his wife died. (24:18) • Among the exiles, he preached the same message that Jeremiah had taught—punishment and a promised return. • Sought to convince them that they must first return to the Lord—before they could return home!
Background • Prior to the captivity, Ezekiel had been a priest. • Called by God during the fifth year of his captivity. • “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: when I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” (3:17,18)
Background • Political and social conditions • The Jews were living as captives in Babylon where they were treated as colonists and not as slaves. Increased in number and accumulated wealth. Some (Daniel) rose to high offices. • Religious conditions • Religious freedom in Babylon. Because of false prophets, the people first rejected the prophet‘s message of repentance. Ultimately, he convinced them, and they returned to the Lord.
Background • Their fall and restoration • Because of the abominations in Jerusalem, God’s glory departed from the temple and the city(9:3; 10:4,18,19).Jerusalem was destroyed and the people taken into exile. After the captivity, a remnant of the people was restored, the temple and city were rebuilt, and the glory of the Lord returned to the new sanctuary. Foreseen byEzekiel, 43:1-5.
Keys to the Book • Key word • Glory • Key phrases • “They shall know that I am the Lord God.”(26) • Key chapter • 37: Steps of Israel’s future “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.” (18:4)
Keys to the Book “Say to them: 'As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (33:11) • Key verses • God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked
Keys to the Book “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (36:24-26) • Key verses • God would give them a “new heart.”
Message • Ezekiel’s message • Divine justice and mercy. • Describes God’s goodness and severity. Sin must be punished; it destroys both men and nations. • Sin, Punishment, Repentance, and Blessing “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22)
Three Main Parts • Ezekiel’s prophecies before the siege of Jerusalem (ch.1-24) • Predictions during the siege of Jerusalem (ch.25-32) • Messages after the fall of Jerusalem (ch.33-48) • Denunciation of Judah • Judgment of the nations • Restoration of Israel
Ezekiel’s Divine Inspiration • God’s spokesman from beginning to end • “And He said to me, Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you. Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. And He said to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.‘As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse-for they are a rebellious house-yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (2:1-5)
Three Outstanding Events • God’s glory departs from the temple. • (10:16-18) • Jerusalem falls. • (33:21) • God’s glory returns to His house. • (44:4)
Ezekiel’s Methods • Various visual methods to symbolize Jerusalem’s destruction and God’s forthcoming judgment against the city • Portrayed siege of Jerusalem on a brick • Shaved his head to use hair to show the fate of Judah’s inhabitants • Zedekiah’s captivity by digging a hole in the wall, packing his bags, and pretending to flee • Used parables to denounce the sins of the people
Ezekiel’s Methods • Various visual methods to symbolize Jerusalem’s destruction and God’s forthcoming judgment against the city • Visions that revealed Judah’s degradation • Exposed false prophets, idolaters, and the general wickedness of the people • Portrayed Judah as the Lord’s unfaithful wife • Charged her with spiritual adultery
Ezekiel’s Methods • In particular, Ezekiel emphasized God’s holiness. • The heathen, Jerusalem’s fall was a sign of their God’s lack of military power. • God was punishing Israel for her sins. • God could not close His eyes to their conduct. • Such conduct defiled the relationship He had with them!
Ezekiel’s Methods • Ezekiel emphasized that each man is personally accountable for his own sins. • Popular proverb (18:2) • Was Jehovah punishing Judah for the sins committed by the previous wicked generation? • Answers (18:20)
Great Lessons From Ezekiel • Grave duty of the Lord’s watchman • Warn the wicked • Failure could cost him his life! “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” (3:17,18)
Great Lessons From Ezekiel “You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem. Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around.” (4:1,2) The clay and iron plate The sketch on the clay tablet symbolized the siege of Jerusalem, and the iron plate the obstacle the people erected between themselves and God.
Great Lessons From Ezekiel “And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them.” (5:1,2) Cutting off his hair and beard By scattering part of his hair, he showed the survival of a remnant, whose hearts would be cleansed.
Great Lessons From Ezekiel “You built your high places at the head of every road, and made your beauty to be abhorred. You offered yourself to everyone who passed by, and multiplied your acts of harlotry. You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger.” (16:25,26) Prostitution of God’s people The most graphic description of spiritual adultery in the Bible. Jehovah’s bride had paid the heathen to commit sacrilege with her!
Great Lessons From Ezekiel “Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves..’” (37:12,13) Valley of dry bones A vision of restoration. The bones were “the whole house of Israel.” God was going to give these bones new life!
Two-Fold Theme • Ezekiel’s theme in the first part—Jerusalem must be destroyed. • False teachers encouraged peace and security. They were wrong! • In the second part, to combat despair, he taught that they had a future hope--returning. • When the calamity came, the people needed hope. The second part of Ezekiel gives them that hope.
Unique Messages From Ezekiel “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (18:30,31) Individual responsibility God desires the sinner’s repentance; but each will stand or fall on his own!
Unique Messages From Ezekiel “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?” (14:3) Idolatry Ezekiel shows that idolatry was the abandoning of the reason for Israel’s existence—to worship and serve God!
Unique Messages From Ezekiel “As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (34:12,13) Messianic hope Ezekiel shows many prophecies concerning the care and welfare, spiritually speaking, of the coming Messiah!
Ezekiel and Revelation • The four living creatures • Ezekiel 1:5—Revelation 4:6 • Rainbow around the throne • Ezekiel 1:28—Revelation 4:3 • Eating the scroll • Ezekiel 3:1—Revelation 10:10 • Sealing of God’s servants • Ezekiel 9:4—Revelation 7:3
Ezekiel and Revelation • Burning the city • Ezekiel 10:2—Revelation 8:5 • Fall of Tyre and Babylon • Ezekiel 26-28—Revelation 18 • God dwelling in the midst of men • Ezekiel 37:27—Revelation 21:3 • Gog in the land of Magog • Ezekiel 38:2,3—Revelation 20:8
Ezekiel and Revelation • The seer placed on a high mountain • Ezekiel 40:2—Revelation 21:10 • The city measured • Ezekiel 40:3—Revelation 11:1, 21:26 • The river issuing from the temple • Ezekiel 47:1,12—Revelation 22:1,2 • The gates of various tribal names • Ezekiel 48:31-34—Revelation 21:12
Prophecies Against the Nations • Ezekiel, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, saw God’s hand controlling all the nations. Book denounces the wickedness and foretells the Lord’s judgment. • Ammon • Moab • Edom. • Egypt • Sidon and Tyre • Philistia