Ezekiel was a prophet who lived in Chaldea (Babylonia) next to the river Chebar1 (which flows into the Euphrates river) during the time of the exile. It is believed that he was 30 years old when he began receiving his visions and they came at a time just prior to the siege and sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia.
God had been sending prophets throughout the years who would urge the people to give up their foolish idolatry, repent and return to the One and Only True God, YHWH. It was He who brought them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them a promised land at the right time.
That brings us to Ezekiel.
In chapter 1 Ezekiel identifies the time of his first vision as being in the 5th year of the exile that took place when Jehoiachin was taken captive and brought to Babylon with many of the leaders and priests and their families. Daniel and his friends were also in this group (see Daniel 1).
In chapters 1-7, Ezekiel relates the contents of this first vision. It outlines how and why God was going to cause the destruction of Jerusalem and the resulting exile for the rest of the people. In it Ezekiel was also told how to go about displaying the events that would take place. Not only was he supposed to proclaim or prophesy but he was also suppose to act out the coming siege and destruction of Jerusalem.
In chapter 1, Ezekiel has a vision of God’s divine glory. In chapters 2 and 3, Ezekiel relates how God calls him and commissions him to go and prophesy to a “stubborn and obstinate” people. He was to go and proclaim what God gives him to say, whether they listen or not. Either way the people would know that a prophet was among them.
In chapter 4, Ezekiel tells how he was instructed to act out the siege, capture and subsequent carrying away into exile the people of Jerusalem. God is specific in the number of days Ezekiel was to do this, what he was to eat and drink and how he was to prepare the food.
In chapter 5, God gives Ezekiel a vision of how He was going to execute His judgment on the city and nation for their idolatry. God proclaims that the following will take place.
- 1/3 will die of plague outside the city and famine inside the city
- 1/3 will die by the sword
- 1/3 will be scattered to the wind, followed by the sword
In chapters 8-12, Ezekiel begins to relate the visions that he had in the 6th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, which continue through chapter 19. In it we find the extent to which the people had stopped worshiping God and were worshiping the gods of the peoples around them. God also makes it clear that all this was happening as a judgment against the abominations of idolatry that filled the land.
In chapter 8, Ezekiel is brought to Jerusalem in his vision and shown all the people who were worshiping other gods, in the temple no less, rather than worshiping the one true God.
- 70 elders of Judah in entrance of the court, worshiping idols of “every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around”, which they also worshiped in their homes
- Women, next to the north gate entrance to the temple, were weeping for Tammuz, the Babylonian god of spring who was married to the goddess Isthar2.
- 25 men in the inner court with their backs to the temple of the Lord and prostrated toward the east, worshiping the sun.
Every element of society (the leaders, the women, and the men) were all openly worshiping other gods in their homes and in the temple of the One True God — truly an abomination of desolation.
In chapter 9, God calls the executioners. There are six of them with one of these dressed in linen and having writing instruments. The man in linen was to mark the forehead of all who mourned the abominations and the others were to follow with their sword, killing those who didn’t.
In chapter 10, God gives a vision of the glory of the Lord leaving the temple with the 4 cherubim and their accompanying wheels full of eyes. Remember the glory of the Lord filled the temple when Solomon dedicated the temple (1 Kings 8) and it also filled the tabernacle when Moses dedicated it (Exodus 40). So this vision of the glory of the Lord leaving the temple is significant. He, that is His presence, had to leave to allow this judgment to take place.
In chapter 11, two leaders in particular are called out to be punished. In the course of telling of the destruction to take place, one of them dies. However, God never leaves His people who are faithful without hope.
Many of the Old Testament prophets mentioned a faithful remnant who will be restored by God and brought back to the land and where they could again faithfully worship God and enjoy His blessing. That is exactly what God proclaims in the latter part of chapter 11.
Ezekiel 11:14-20 NASB Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 15 “Son of man, your brothers, your relatives, your fellow exiles and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the LORD; this land has been given us as a possession.’ 16 “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Though I had removed them far away among the nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone.”‘ 17 “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”‘ 18 “When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
God also reminds those who aren’t faithful to God of His impending judgment.
Ezekiel 11:21 NASB “But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I will bring their conduct down on their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.
God is patient, wanting to allow people to repent of their sins and idolatry and return to or to begin worshiping the One True God, but people viewed His patience and longsuffering as inaction or didn’t believe that God would really punish them or allow them to be taken into captivity. But in chapter 12, God makes it very clear that He will no longer delay in accomplishing His judgment for their abominations.
Many today think the same thing about God, Jesus’ second coming, and the reality of the eternal judgment that will take place at the end of the age. God will not always wait but will at the right time, send His Son, Jesus, again to execute His judgment on the earth. Don’t wait any longer to repent and turn to Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
You can learn more about it on The World’s Greatest Gift page.
You can download a copy of the outline for Ezekiel, chapters 1-12, on the Downloads page in the Outlines folder.
1 “Chebar” on Net.Bible.org. 21 June 2014.
2 Ezekiel 8:14. Life Application Study Bible Notes. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; e-Sword, 2004.