Ezekiel Essentials

Ezekiel Essentials

Theme: God is sovereign over all creation, including the course of history. He is absolutely free either to judge or to be gracious and merciful. 

Author: The book identifies its author as Ezekiel, a priest exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Date of Writing: Ezekiel probably wrote this book over the course of his ministry, between 593 and 571 BC.

Encouragement From Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel36:26).

Challenge From Ezekiel: “Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31–32).

 

Storyline

Ezekiel connects beautifully with the New Testament doctrines of salvation and rebirth in Jesus. For one day, God would “sprinkle clean water” on His people making them “clean from all [their] impurities and from all [their] idols.” He would give them “a new heart”—not a “heart of stone,” but a “heart of flesh.” Then, empowered by the Spirit of the Lord, the people would obey all that God had commanded (Ezekiel 36:22–38). This change would be nothing short of a new creation, or recreation, of God’s people, as if from dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14). And as redeemed people, they themselves would become “temples of the Holy Spirit,” as Paul expressed it in 1 Corinthians 6:19.

 

Key Verses: Ezekiel 36:24–26 and 36:33–35—“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).

 

“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited” ’ ” (36:33–35).

 

Key People in Ezekiel

Ezekiel —prophet to the people of Israel in Babylonian captivity (1:1– 48:35)

Israel’s leaders —led the people of Israel into idolatry (7:26–8:12; 9:5–6; 11; 14:1–3; 20:1–3; 22:23–29)

Ezekiel’s wife —unnamed woman whose death symbolized the future destruction of Israel’s beloved temple (24:15–27)

Nebuchadnezzar —king of Babylon used by God to conquer Tyre, Egypt, and Judah (26:7–14; 29:17–30:10)

 

Key Doctrines in Ezekiel

The work of angels —who carry out God’s program behind the scenes in many ways by demonstrating God’s glory (1:5–25; 10:1–22), destroying evil (Genesis 19:12–13), and worshiping God (Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 6:2–4; Revelation 4:6–8)

The sinfulness of Israel (2:3–7; 5:6; 8:9,10; 9:9; 1 Samuel 8:7,8; 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 10:11; 94:7; Isaiah 6:9; 29:15; Jeremiah 3:25; Micah 3:1–3; 7:3; John 3:20,21; Acts 13:24; Revelation 2:14)

God’s Character in Ezekiel

God is glorious —1:28; 3:12,23; 9:3; 10:4,18–19; 11:23; 43:4,5; 44:4

God is holy —1:26–28; 8–11; 43:1–7

God is just —18:25,29; 33:17,20

God is long-suffering —20:17

God is provident —28:2–10

God is wrathful —7:19

Christ in Ezekiel

Ezekiel contains several passages illustrating Israel’s triumph through the work of the Messiah. Christ is pictured as “one of the highest branches of the high cedar” (17:22–24). This messianic prophecy demonstrates Christ’s royal lineage connected to David. The branch, used consistently in Scripture to depict the Messiah, shows Christ as a “young twig, a tender one” who will be planted on the mountain of Israel (34:23,24; 37:24,25; Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12). On this height, Ezekiel pictures Christ as growing into a “majestic cedar” able to protect Israel in its shadow. Christ also appears as the Shepherd over His sheep (34:11–31). However, Ezekiel also describes the Shepherd’s judgment on those who abuse the people of Israel (34:17–24; see Matthew 25:31–46).

Key Words in Ezekiel

Son of Man: Hebrew ben ‘adam —2:1; 3:17; 12:18; 20:46; 29:18; 39:17; 44:5; 47:6—used over one hundred times referring to Ezekiel. It serves both to emphasize the difference between God the Creator and His creatures, and to mark the prophet Ezekiel as a representative member of the human race. Ezekiel’s life was a living parable or object lesson to the Hebrew captives in Babylon (compare 1:3; 3:4–7). In word and deed, Ezekiel was a “sign” to the house of Israel (12:6). Jesus adopted the title Son of Man because He, too, is a representative person—the “last Adam” who became a life-giving spirit (see Matthew 8:20; 1 Corinthians 15:45). The title Son of Man also alludes to Daniel’s vision of the heavenly being who is “like the Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13). Thus the title highlights the mystery of the Incarnation, the fact that Christ is both divine and human. As the God-man, Jesus became a glorious sign for all of sinful humanity (Luke 2:34).

Idols: Hebrew gillulim ––6:4; 8:10; 14:6; 20:24; 23:30; 36:18; 44:10—related to a verb which means “to roll” (Genesis 29:3; Joshua 10:18). The word refers to “shapeless things” like stones or tree logs of which idols were made (6:9; 20:39; 22:3; 1 Kings 21:26). The prophet Ezekiel uses this Hebrew term for idols nearly forty times, always contemptuously, as these false gods had led Israel away from the true God (14:5). The word gillulim may be related to a similar Hebrew expression meaning “dung pellets.” Later Jewish commentators mocked the gillulim as the “dung idols,” idols worthless as dung.

Glory: Hebrew kabod —1:28; 3:23; 9:3; 10:18; 31:18; 43:2; 44:4—derived from a Hebrew verb which is used to describe the weight or worthiness of something. It can refer to something negative. For example, in reference to Sodom, it depicts the severe degree of sin that had reached the point of making that city worthy of complete destruction (Genesis 18:20). But usually the word is used to depict greatness and splendor (Genesis 31:1). The noun form is translated honor in some instances (1 Kings 3:13). God’s glory is described in the Old Testament as taking the form of a cloud (Exodus 24:15–18) and filling the temple (1 Kings 8:11). The appropriate response to God’s glory is to reverence Him by bowing before Him, as Ezekiel did (3:23; 43:3).

 

Teaching Structure

  1. God’s judgment on Judah and Jerusalem
  2. The call of Ezekiel to confront a rebellious people (chs. 1-3)
  3. Signs, visions, metaphors and oracles declaring judgment for Jerusalem (chs. 4-24)

 

  1. God’s judgment on foreign nations
  2. Oracles against Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia (ch. 25)
  3. Oracles against Tyre (chs. 26-28)
  4. Oracles against Egypt (chs. 29-32)

 

  1. God’s restoration of Israel
  2. Renewal, return, restoration and resurrection (chs. 33-39)
  3. Vision of new temple, Torah, land and city (chs. 40-48)

 

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