“In 593 B.C., six years before the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel received the first of a series of 14 visions that comprise the 48 chapters of his book. His ministry continued for at least 22 years, until his last prophetic vision in 571 B.C. His name means “God strengthens.” Indeed, he sought to be a source of strength to both warn and encourage the people of their need for repentance and faith. Growing up in a priestly family impacted Ezekiel’s theological perspective. We can easily identify at least six themes in the book. Each theme builds on the previous ones as the message progresses.
1. Ezekiel’s message opens with a vision of God’s holiness and transcendence, which had been violated by Israel and Judah.
2. Yahweh’s holy character demanded justice and judgment, which would bring about the imminent destruction of Jerusalem.
3. The transcendent God was concerned about and would judge the sinfulness of humanity. Earlier, Amos had stressed the social injustices of the nation. Ezekiel took Amos’s view of sin a step further and identified the spiritual root of sin as violation of God’s holy character and commandments.
4. Growing out of Ezekiel’s view of sin was his call for individual responsibility. He presented one of the clearest statements of personal responsibility found in the Bible in his message of 18:1-32.
5. When he had fully developed the idea of accountability and judgment, he balanced it with wonderful messages of hope and restoration, especially in chapters 33-37 and 40-48.
6. The theme that pervades all the other theological perspectives of the book is the prophet’s consciousness of God’s redemptive purposes in light of His nature and man’s great need.
The message of the book is well organized and proceeds logically. The first section of the book begins with the reality of God’s presence in the midst of days of turmoil in 1:1-3:27 by addressing the theological question, where is God in the midst of life’s storms? Second, Ezekiel addressed the reality of judgment both for Israel and for the nations in 4:1-32:32. Third, Ezekiel revealed the reality of restoration and final defeat of Israel’s enemies in 33:1-39:29. Fourth, the prophet’s final message turned to the redemption and restoration that await all of God’s people in 40:1-48:35.”(HCSB)

In regards to 1:28, “The mention of the rainbow is an echo of God’s covenant with Noah. Just as God restored the world after the flood, He promised to restore fallen Israel. This vision is an early hint that the message of Ezekiel would be one not only of judgment but also of hope and restoration. It was this message of hope that answered a crucial theological question for Ezekiel and every exile in Babylon—and Judeans still left in Jerusalem—namely: Is there any hope of restoration?” The answer to the question is a definite YES! As long as we are still breathing, there is always hope for a restoration to righteousness.

In regards to 2:1, “This is the first of 93 places where the name “son of man” was applied to Ezekiel. The Lord never called Ezekiel by his proper name as He did other prophets and leaders. In the Hebrew language the prefix “son of,” was often used to mean, “having the characteristics of” someone or something, or belonging to a certain class of things. “Son of man” in Ezekiel probably means “member of the human family” (i.e. the human race), pointing especially to the prophet’s human frailty and mortality that made him dependent on God’s power and wisdom.”

2:6-8, “But you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words, though briers and thorns are beside you and you live among scorpions. Don’t be afraid of their words or be discouraged by the look on their faces, for they are a rebellious house. But speak My words to them whether they listen or refuse to listen, for they are rebellious. And you, son of man, listen to what I tell you: Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” The prophet’s assignment was to preach to the exiles in Babylon who were bitter, rebellious, obstinate, hard-hearted, and hardheaded. The prophet was to consume the message, digest it, and proclaim its contents. The same concept can be applied today to Christians. We are not to be afraid of the atheists, agnostics, and those who worship other religions. The Christian mission is to consume the Good News of the Bible, grasp what it really means, and proclaim it to those who do not know or do not believe. We are called to wear our hearts on our sleeves and to show more than tell the other people what kind of hope we have and how it has impacted our lives.

God holds every person accountable, and I find it interesting that in regards to 3:16-21, “While the role of the watchman was well known in ancient Near Eastern culture, Ezekiel’s divine appointment was unique. The watchman was charged with the safety of the community; he was to warn the people of impending danger, especially enemy attack. Any watchman that failed in his duty was held personally responsible. Negligence resulting in loss of life was punishable by death. The prophet, therefore, was held responsible and accountable for brining messages of judgment to the rebellious people.” If we know the Good News of Jesus Christ and refuse to proclaim it, and just live our lives like we have never heard the News, than God will hold us accountable. Jesus reassures this when He says in Luke 13, “I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.” Once a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, God gives him/her His Spirit for guidance and strength. His Spirit is capable of what we read in Ezekiel 3:26-27, “I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth, and you will be mute and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you will say to them: This is what the Lord God says. Let the one who listens, listen, and let the one who refuses, refuse—for they are a rebellious house.” God gives us words to speak, if only we were to pray and listen for them when the time is right.

In regards to 16:5, “The prophet pictured Judah as an abandoned female upon whom the Lord had pity. In the ancient Near East, females often were abandoned at birth because of family poverty or fear of disgrace because of the low social position afforded women. It was also common to abandon ill, deformed, weak, and unwanted children. Although such barbaric practices were not supposed to be the custom in Israel, Ezekiel was comparing the Lord’s compassion with the cruelty that characterized the pagan world. He found Judah in a helpless estate, unloved and unwanted, and rescued and adopted her as His own.” God does the same today. Anyone who feels helpless, unloved, unwanted, can go to the Cross and see the outstretched arms of Jesus and know that they are loved by their Creator. God takes us in regardless of what we have seen, been through, or have done, He still loves us as far as the East is to the West.

In regards to chapter 18, “Here, Ezekiel clearly made two points about individual responsibility. First, individuals are not guilty for sins committed by others—past or present—especially by family members. Rather, they are responsible for whatever they do. Second, although individuals are responsible for their sins, they are not bound by former sins—their own or others—but can alter their situation by repentance and faith. No generation is judged for the sins of a previous one. God always honors genuine repentance, as described in verse 21. Repentance is turning from sin and turning to God in faith and obedience. The chiastic (symmetrical, in reverse) structure of verses 21-24 begins and ends with exhortations to repentance. Between them is the Lord’s rhetorical question, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” The implied answer is No. God does not create some individuals for the specific purpose of meting out His judgment, as some may claim. The exiles accused God of being unfair because they failed to understand the principles of verses 10-24, in the belief that they were paying for the sins of previous generations. The accusation that the Lord is “unfair” or unjust is a translation of the Hebrew takan, literally “to measure” or “to examine.” They claimed that God does not “measure” His actions but acts arbitrarily and unjustly. The Lord turned the argument on the hearers, asking them, “Isn’t it your ways that are unfair?” Judgment for sin is a fixed principle that only can be averted by repentance. When a righteous person abandons righteousness, the judgment of God is released against sin. If the person repents and turns from sin, the judgment is stayed. When a person’s guilt is exposed, the human tendency is to blame someone else. At such times God can be a handy scapegoat. It is no surprise that both the exiles under judgment and those still in Judah maintained their innocence and the Lord’s guilt. God’s desire, even in the face of repeated rebellion, is always to deliver—but He will bring judgment if necessary. This is consistent with His character inasmuch as it reveals His wrath against sin and those who choose it. When a person repents and changes direction, the wrath of God is averted because the person turned from sin to forgiveness and faith.”

20:12, “I also gave them My Sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, so they will know that I am the LORD who sets them apart as holy.” God made the Sabbath for us. He knows that we need rest, more importantly that we need to rest in Him. The pressures of this life can be overwhelming which is why God wants at least one day of the week for us to be totally devoted to Him, to take pleasure in Him, and acknowledge what He has done.

In regards to 24:15-27, “Interpreters question why a compassionate God would take the life of Ezekiel’s wife as an illustration of coming judgment, but there is no reason to assume that was what the Lord did. In providing advance knowledge of her death to Ezekiel, He was preparing him to respond to his loss in a way that would make the deepest impression on the prophet’s community. In the ancient Near East, mourning was a public rite in which a family often hired professional mourners to bewail the loss of their loved one. Ezekiel’s unorthodox conduct in the face of his wife’s death—he was instructed not to mourn in public—aroused the people’s curiosity, giving the prophet an opening to declare the word of the Lord. When judgment arrived, there would be no opportunity to conduct the usual ceremonies of mourning for lost loved ones or for the demise o the nation. This passage brings to a conclusion the record of Ezekiel’s ministry as the prophet of judgment to come upon Judah and Jerusalem.”

In regards to 33:1-11, “This passage is a turning point, as Ezekiel transitioned to messages of hope and restoration. This message parallels 3:16-21 and reaffirmed Ezekiel’s authority as the prophet of restoration. The hope of restoration begins with a question, “How then can we survive?” Ezekiel brought a forceful and clear call to “repent, repent,” the imperative form of Hebrew shuv, “turn.”

34:4-6, 11-12, 22-24, and 30-31, “You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. They were scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them. For this is what the Lord God says: See, I Myself will search for My flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will save My flock, and they will no longer be prey for you. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will appoint over them a single shepherd, My servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd. I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be a prince among them, I the LORD, have spoken. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people. This is the declaration of the Lord God. You are My flock, the human flock of My pasture, and I am your God. This is the declaration of the Lord God.”

In regards to 34:6-31, “The Lord is the true Shepherd of Israel. He made clear in this passage by the use of 18 possessive pronouns such as “My flock” and “My sheep.” Human shepherds were accountable to the Divine Shepherd, a concept David well understood. So the Lord declared that He was against the human shepherds and would be the true Shepherd. At least 25 verbal forms translated “I will” punctuate verses 10-29. These promises express the Lord’s determination to personally attend His flock. His Messiah will mediate a “covenant of peace” between God and His flock. Ezekiel joined Jeremiah in outlining the new covenant.”

In regards to 36:24-32, “This passage expands on 11:14-21, the Lord’s promise to the returning exiles, in a series of affirmations. (1) The Lord will honor His promises of restoration. (2) He will cleanse the people from their idolatry. (3) He will give them a “new heart” and “new spirit.” (4) His Spirit will enable them to walk in His laws. (5) They will live permanently in the land. (6) The Lord will renew His covenant affirmation to have them as His people and be their God. (7) The land will again be productive. (8) The Judeans will remember their idolatry and “loathe” themselves. (9) Their cities will be resettled. (10) Desolate land will again be cultivated. (11) The land will be as productive as the garden of Eden. (12) All surrounding nations will acknowledge what Yahweh has done. (13) He will bless and increase His people like a flock.”

In regards to 38:1-39:29, “Interpreters have considered these two chapters to be one of the most difficult sections of the Bible. While other approaches are possible, this discussion will take the prophecies literally as referring to a future event of history within a pre-millennial eschatological framework. The discussion will consider other related biblical passages. This section is a type of prophecy called “apocalyptic,” which presents its messages in symbols and cryptic characters. Generally, the prophets of the Old Testament called for repentance and sought the reformation of human conduct. Apocalyptic prophets such as Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and John (in the book of Revelation) certainly shared these spiritual goals. But they believed God’s ultimate solution to evil was not reformation but revolution. They looked to the latter days when God would confront Satan and evil, transform the world, set up a perfect kingdom, and live and fellowship with His people forever.”

In regards to 48:30-35, “Ezekiel closed his prophecy with a marvelous vision of the new Jerusalem located foursquare in the southern sector of the sacred district. The city has 12 gates, three on each side, and is the pattern for John’s vision of the Jerusalem “from God” in Revelation 21:12-14. The city’s name is a testimony of Yahweh’s presence among His people forever: Yahweh Shammah, “The LORD is there.” John’s city, likewise, is the place where God will dwell among His people, to “be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3). The first city mentioned in the Bible came about as a result of Cain’s act of rebellion. The final city is the city of God, His dwelling place. Ezekiel’s ministry began with an awesome vision of the storm of judgment approaching a sinful nation. It closes with a glorious vision of a new people, a new land, a new worship—and in the midst of it all, “Yahweh Is There.”

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