Author and His Times
Ezekiel, as part of the first deportation (598 B.C., the deportation that took the Jerusalem’s prominent people), ministers predominantly to the exiled Jews in Babylon, 593-571 B.C. He is a priest (1.3), prophet (3.33), and Levite. Ezekiel maintains his God given title – son of man – as a picture of his humble humanity before God almighty.
Ezekiel is a younger contemporary of Jeremiah. Their ministries were compliments in that Jeremiah served in Jerusalem with occasional letters to the exiles; Ezekiel served among the exiles with occasional letters to Jerusalem. Ezekiel was married, Jeremiah was not.
Some information on Ezekiel’s times is contained in II Kings 22-25. Babylon will institute its final destruction of Judah shortly into Ezekiel’s ministry. Theology of the times gave Judah false security and an invincibility ego: 1) Judah is God’s people, 2) Jerusalem is God’s city, 3) the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem (125 years earlier, about the same time Samaria was destroyed by Assyria) is case and point, and 4) false prophets proclaimed peace.
I. (1-24) Events of Judah’s Doom – the National “Day of the Lord” (prophesied during the five years preceding the siege of 586 B.C. Theology: shows the wrath of God)
II. (25-32) Events of the Nations’ Doom – the International “Day of the Lord” (Theology: shows the sovereignty of God)
III. (33-48) Events of Judah’s Restoration (prophesied during the first 16 years post exile. Theology: shows the mercy of God)
Artists and professional speakers will resonate well with Ezekiel. His dramas, visual objects, allegorical pictures, and intriguing visions were a mastery of communication. People loved listening to Ezekiel; no on changed because of his message, but he sure knew how to captivate a crowd. Ezekiel’s use of prose deviated from the poetic form most common among prophets up to this point.
Ezekiel’s priestly background comes forward in his temple/priest subject matter. Most of his oracles start with a question from God, and end with God stating “so you will know that I am the Lord,” or “I the Lord have spoken.”
How to Read It
Enjoy the art and drama of his communication forms. Look for New Testament imagery parallels in Paul’s epistles or the Book of Revelation. 29.17-30.26 are the only non-chronological passages for you to make special note of.