Summary: The Study Of Ezekiel: God's Spokesman In A Foreign Land
The Study Of Ezekiel: God's Spokesman In A Foreign Land
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Five Old Testament books of prophecy are known as “the Major Prophets.” They are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Four of them are named for the prophet who wrote them. Lamentations is included because it was written by the prophet Jeremiah. Isaiah prophesied to the nation of Judah in the eighth century before Christ. Jeremiah prophesied to Judah during the time its people were being carried into the Babylonian Captivity. Ezekiel was taken into Babylon with the second group of captives. He was called by God to prophesy to the captives in Babylon. Daniel was in the first group who were taken captive. He served God as a prophet in the courts of the king of Babylon.
Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were contemporaries. This means that their lives overlapped. However, Isaiah lived about one hundred years earlier. Isaiah foretold the coming of the Babylonian Captivity (Isaiah 39). Jeremiah preached to the people of God and told them to accept the period of captivity as just punishment from God for their sins (Jeremiah 25). Ezekiel spoke of the return from Babylon (Ezekiel 20:39-44). Daniel foretold what would happen to the Jews after the time of the Babylonian Captivity (Daniel 8-11).
We must keep in mind there were three times the Jews were carried into Babylon. In 606 B.C. certain of the royal family including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were taken (Daniel 1:1-6; 2 Kings 24:1). In 596 B.C. many of the skilled craftsmen, priests and other leading people were taken (2 Kings 24:1-17). Ezekiel was among these. Finally, in 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The rest of the Jews were taken as slaves to Babylon (Jeremiah 39; 2 Kings 25:1-11). A small group remained in the land.
The book of Ezekiel is a unique book. It has long been regarded as one of the most difficult books, if not the most difficult book, in the Old Testament. Ezekiel is written in “apocalyptic language.” This is highly figurative speech. It contains many signs, symbols, and allegories. There are several key phrases which occur in Ezekiel. Ezekiel is called the “son of man” about one hundred times. The phrase, “The word of the Lord came to me” is found forty-nine times. Another phrase, “and you shall know I am the Lord,” is found more than sixty times.
It appears from reading the book that Ezekiel had three purposes in mind when writing:
1. The people of Judah needed to understand the reason for the captivity;
2. They needed to turn from the worship of idols and return to worshiping God;
3. They also needed to have corrected the mistaken idea they would speedily return to their homeland. Before they could return to their homeland, they had to first return to God!
Ezekiel was truly God’s spokesman to His people in their hour of greatest need! He was well prepared for this task. He was the son of Buzi, a priest (Ezekiel 1:3). His name means “God will strengthen.” This tells us that God was the Source of His spiritual strength. Ezekiel was probably born about 622 B.C. This was during the reign of the good king, Josiah. It is very likely that Ezekiel had heard Jeremiah preach in his youth. He may have met Daniel in Babylon (Ezekiel 14:14, 20).
Ezekiel was taken to Babylon when he was a very young man (2 Kings 24:14-16). His call to be a prophet was “in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar” (Ezekiel 1:3). He was a married man, but his wife died the day the final siege of Jerusalem began (Ezekiel 24:1,2,15-18). He prophesied to the captives at Tel Abib by the River Chebar (Ezekiel 3:15). Tel Abib was about sixty miles south of the city of Babylon. The River Chebar was possibly a canal between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Ezekiel was about thirty years of age when he was called to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:1, 2). It was in the fifth year of the Captivity. He continued to prophesy until the twentieth-seventh year of the Captivity. This was a total of twenty-two years. We do not know what happened to him after this. Perhaps he died at the age of 52.
The prophecies of the book of Ezekiel all center around the fall of Jerusalem. The forty-eight chapters of Ezekiel can be divided into two main sections. Chapters 1-24 were delivered before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Chapters 24-48 were delivered after the fall of Jerusalem. The prophetic messages delivered before the fall were filled with condemnation for Judah’s sins. The prophetic messages delivered after the fall were prophecies of hope and encouragement.