Ezekiel - Introduction

I'm returning to my Quiet Times after too long an absence. In the past I've returned out of obligation or guilt, but this time I'm actually excited to get back into it, God has been working on me. More on that later. I've decided to jump into Ezekiel as I haven't done a good OT study in a long while. That ought to keep me busy for a while.

I'm starting, as I did with my Ephesians study, with some background info on Ezekiel.

From Wikipedia:

Prior to the 12th century, the debate was about whether it should be in the canon because of concerns that it would be misinterpreted. No reading chapter 1 in synagogue and no reading in private before you're 30. Later debate centers on whether Ezekiel was the only author. Most acknowledge that Ezekiel was involved, but that it may have been edited and added to by scribes and other followers. It was delivered orally at first.

Ezekiel is said to be descendant of Joshua through Rahab.

According to midrash Canticles Rabbah, Ezekiel was who Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo went to for advice on whether to defy the kings edict and risk being thrown in the furnace. God's first revelation indicated that they would die. It was only after Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo left to their fate that God revealed to Ezekiel that He would rescue them. It is also said in Jewish literature that the raising of the 3 from the dead in chapter 37 happened on the same day that Shadrach, Miesheck, and Obednigo went into the furnace.

Ezekiel contains three distinct sections.

  1. Judgment on Israel

  2. Prophecies against various neighboring nations.

  3. Prophecies delivered after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II.

Ezekiel was originally written in the 25 year period between 593 to 571 B.C

From the NIV Study Bible:

The environment & political background Ezekiel lived in:

Ezekiel lived during a time of international upheaval. The Assyrian empire that had once conquered the Syro-Palestinian area and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel (which fell to the Assyrians in 722–721 b.c.) began to crumble under the blows of a resurgent Babylon. In 612 the great Assyrian city of Nineveh fell to a combined force of Babylonians and Medes. Three years later, Pharaoh Neco II of Egypt marched north to assist the Assyrians and to try to reassert Egypt's age-old influence over Canaan and Aram (Syria). At Megiddo, King Josiah of Judah, who may have been an ally of Babylon as King Hezekiah had been, attempted to intercept the Egyptian forces but was crushed, losing his life in the battle (see 2 Ki 23:29–30; 2Ch 35:20–24).

Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah, ruled Judah for only three months, after which Neco installed Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, as his royal vassal in Jerusalem (609 b.c.). In 605 the Babylonians overwhelmed the Egyptian army at Carchemish (see Jer 46:2), then pressed south as far as the Philistine plain. In the same year, Nebuchadnezzar was elevated to the Babylonian throne and Jehoiakim shifted allegiance to him. When a few years later the Egyptian and Babylonian forces met in a standoff battle, Jehoiakim rebelled against his new overlord.

Nebuchadnezzar soon responded by sending a force against Jerusalem, subduing it in 597 b.c. Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin and about 10,000 Jews (see 2 Ki 24:14), including Ezekiel, were exiled to Babylon, where they joined those who had been exiled in Jehoiakim's "third year" (see Da 1:1 and note). Nebuchadnezzar placed Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, on the throne in Jerusalem, but within five or six years he too rebelled. The Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem in 588, and in July, 586, the walls were breached and the city plundered. On Aug. 14, 586, the city and temple were burned.

Under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, Babylon dominated the international scene until it was crushed by Cyrus the Persian in 539 b.c. The reign of the house of David came to an end; the kingdom of Judah ceased to be an independent nation; Jerusalem and the Lord's temple lay in ruins.

He was eligible to serve as a priest because he was from a priestly family. His prophesy and message therefore had much to do with the temple and its ceremonies.

His message, primarily, was not one of hope but of judgement. God was judging not only his people, but the nations around them as well. That judgement was manifested in the fall of Jerusalem and only after that fall, and God's judgement, was complete did God allow Ezekiel a message of hope for Israel.

Ezekiel contains more dates than any other OT book of prophesy, and so is easily dated (see above). His time of ministry coincides with Jerusalem's darkest hour, spanning it's destruction.

The themes of Ezekiel's message are that God is sovereign over all, not just in Jerusalem, and that he longs to be known. The phrase "Then they will know that I am the Lord" or some variant occurs 65 times in Ezekiel. Ezekiel reveals God through his judgement on Jerusalem (chs. 1-24), on the other nations (chs. 25-32) and, eventually, through the restoration and spiritual renewal of Israel (chs. 33-48).

While other prophets deal with Israel's Idolatry, immorality and reliance on things other than God, Ezekiel's message focuses on these things through the lens of a holy people with a holy temple, holy city and holy land. Israel had defiled her worship and thus defiled the temple, city and land. God could only withdraw from such uncleanliness and judge his people with national destruction.

But God is faithful to His covenant ultimately longs to save and would revive his people, cleanse them and rebuild them as a perfect expression of His kingdom. His glory would be displayed among the nations through them.

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4 Comments

Ezekiel is one of my favorite books. I need to go through it again too. I have a really good commentary on it that I'll have to pull out. It's a pretty deep one to get back into but a commentary might help...or make it more deep? :)

Great topic. I'm looking forward to the series!

BEG - I remember how much you enjoyed Ezekiel. As I thought about what to read next your love for it was one of the things that led me to Ezekiel. to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever read through it, if I have it's been a long, long time.

Hey, why not read it with me and then you can add your thoughts. What a good excuse to start a blog (I can hook you up!). :-D



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  • BEG - I remember how much you enjoyed Ezekiel. As I thought about what to read next your love for it was one of the things that led me to Ezekiel. to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever read through it, if I have it's be...

  • Great topic. I'm looking forward to the series!...

  • Ezekiel is one of my favorite books. I need to go through it again too. I have a really good commentary on it that I'll have to pull out. It's a pretty deep one to get back into but a commentary might help...or make ...

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