Book 26 of the OT, containing 48 chapters. The last eight chapters describe what is considered to be a literal, future structure – Ezekiel’s temple. Ezekiel wrote this major prophetic book about 571 BC. It was directed to the Jews in captivity in Babylon, announcing God’s judgment on His people and also foretelling their eventual salvation. Daniel, Habakkuk and Jeremiah were also prophets during parts of Ezekiel’s period of ministry. Time to read: 2 hrs 25 mins.
Key people include: Ezekiel, Ezekiel’s wife, the leaders of Israel, King Nebuchadnezzar.
Outline. The prophet Ezekiel was taken captive by the Babylonians in 597 BC but prophesied that the whole nation of Judah (those still remaining in Promised Land) would be captured and Jerusalem destroyed. He explained that the captivity would not be short-lived and that the severe judgment of God was because of sin. The book closes with messages of hope for their restoration – after a 70 year cleansing period, they would experience God’s deliverance and mercy. Ezekiel emphasized that not only was sin a national problem but that each person individually was responsible to God (Ezek 18:20). God gave Ezekiel a vision of a new temple, and the restoration of worship. Although this temple was never literally constructed it indicates God’s desire of intimate fellowship with us, and that all who have been faithful to Him will enjoy eternal life with Him. During his faithful ministry God told him to illustrate with dramatic object lessons, acting out the messages (e.g. Ezek 4:1-5:4, 12:3-7).
Main lesson. Even though the nation of Israel was like the valley of dry, lifeless bones, it was not beyond God’s power to restore and bring back to life that which was dead (Ezek 37:1-14). Even today God’s rejuvenating power still touches people and situations that appear dead spiritually.
Key verses and thoughts: * “I will gather you... and give you a new heart” (Ezek 11:17-21, 36:24-28). Their cold, hard, stony hearts of sin would become soft, malleable hearts of love and obedience. Which best describes my heart – unresponsive, arrogant and rebellious or tender, obedient and committed to the Lord?
* “The soul that sins dies” (Ezek 18:4). God holds each person individually responsible for his or her actions. We are accountable for the choices we make and so will experience the consequences, unless in true repentance we acknowledge our sin before Christ and ask for forgiveness and receive His offer of salvation. Then as born-again Christians, we still need to confess regularly our ongoing failings or else we will answer for them at the judgment throne although our destiny is assured in heaven because of our initial confessing at salvation and progressive spiritual walk.
* “I have made you a watchman...I hold you accountable” (Ezek 33:2-9). In the natural, people would perish if the watchman was not diligent and alert, fulfilling his duty (to be on the lookout for and give warning of any approaching enemy), so in the spiritual realm today souls will be doomed to hell if we do not introduce them to the Saviour. Am I conscientious in discharging my responsibility of warning the lost about the forthcoming judgment of God?
See also: Babylon, captivity, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, prophets, sin/sinners, watchman.