About this book
Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet. He had been taken away as a prisoner to Babylonia, where he lived among the other exiles from Judah. The Lord chose Ezekiel to be his prophet and to preach his message, not only to the exiles in Babylonia, but also to the people still living in Jerusalem. Ezekiel's ministry probably began around 593 bc, during the last years of the kingdom of Judah, and it ended some time around 570 bc, several years after the fall of Jerusalem (586 bc). Ezekiel preached before and after this horrible disaster, and so some of his messages threatened judgment and others offered hope.
The book of Ezekiel can be divided into five main parts. The first part (1—3) describes Ezekiel's vision of the Lord's glory and tells how the Lord appointed Ezekiel to be his prophet. The second part (4—24) includes several messages warning the people of Judah that they will soon be punished for turning away from the Lord. Ezekiel acted out many of these warnings. And the third part of the book (25—32) includes the Lord's judgments on nearby nations.
The fourth part of the book (33—39) is made up of Ezekiel's messages after he heard that Jerusalem had been captured. These are messages of hope. The Lord promises he will forgive his people and bring them back to Judah and Jerusalem. Finally, the fifth part of the book (40—48) is Ezekiel's vision of the new temple in Jerusalem, its regulations for proper worship, and how the restored land of Israel will be divided among the tribes.
When the Lord speaks to Ezekiel, he calls him “son of man”. Although this expression shows that Ezekiel is a mere human, it also shows that he has been appointed to preach the Lord's message to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
One of the most familiar passages in the book is Ezekiel's vision of the valley full of dried-out bones. Ezekiel watches the Lord's Spirit blow life into the dead bodies, and he sees them come back to life. The Lord then tells Ezekiel:
The people of Israel are like dead bones. They complain that they are dried up and that they have no hope for the future. So tell them, “I, the Lord God, promise to open your graves and set you free. I will bring you back to Israel … My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again.”
A quick look at this book
1. Ezekiel sees the Lord's glory and is chosen to be his prophet (1.1—3.27)
2. Ezekiel acts out the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem (4.1—5.17)
3. Disaster is near (6.1—7.27)
4. The Lord's glory leaves sinful Jerusalem (8.1—11.25)
5. Messages of doom for Judah and Jerusalem (12.1—24.27)
6. Judgment on foreign nations (25.1—32.32)
7. Ezekiel must warn the people to turn from their sinful ways (33.1–20)
8. The news of Jerusalem's fall (33.21,22)
9. The Lord promises to bring the people home and to restore Judah (34.1—37.28)
10. Gog will be defeated and Israel will be restored (38.1—39.29)
11. Ezekiel sees the future temple in Jerusalem (40.1—46.24)
12. The stream flowing from the temple (47.1–12)
13. The borders of the restored land and its division among the tribes (47.13—48.35)