Forum Class Ezekiel #1
Our Approach: Rather than doing extensive study ahead of the time on the prophet, his times, his calling and his message, we'll launch right into the text of Ezekiel and do a series of flashbacks and background studies as we proceed.
For example, we will want to know who Ezekiel was, and where is he when he is writing his book--evidently he is not in Jerusalem. Who is with him? How did he get where he is? What is his calling? What is unusual about his mission and style?
Here are some topics of interest so that we understand the
whole historical context. (Not in order)
What has been going on with Egypt, Syria, Assyrian, and Babylon for the previous few hundred years?
How about the splitting of the Kingdom of Israel after the death of Solomon? Summarize.
Does God have standards for the conduct of his kings? If so, how did they all do? (Hint: 1 Samuel 8:1-22, Deuteronomy 17:14-20)
Why is King David the gold standard for a "good king?"
Describe Israel's idolatries and grievous sins in contemporary terms.
Summarize the decline of the ten Northern Tribes and their captivity in 722 BC (Hint: 2 Kings 17).
Which kings in Judah are especially noteworthy for our purposes as we study Ezekiel? Why? Hint: Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah, Zedekiah).
What is special about Jeconiah in a prophetic sense? (Hint: Jeremiah 22:20-30)
Assyrian did not overrun Judah but Babylon did a bit later. How did this come about?
How about Jonah the Prophet and his trip to Nineveh in 760 BC. What did Nahum do and say just prior to 612 BC?
Where was Jeremiah, what as he doing, what was his fate while Ezekiel was in Babylon?
What were Habakkuk's concerns, (about 607 BC)?
What about Daniel and his friends in Babylon? What were they doing there and why?
Who were the people Ezekiel was with, what happened to them?
When did Daniel go to Babylon? Why? When did Ezekiel go to Babylon and with whom?
What happened to each of the last five kings of Judah?
Who was Nebuchadnezzar and what do we know about him (hint: Daniel)
What was ancient Babylon like?
What happened at the Battle of Carchemish? Where is this place?
Who was Pharaoh Neco?
Describe the siege and Fall of Jerusalem in 586 (hint: Josephus). Extra credit: Describe the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Ezekiel was a Levitical Priest. What would be doing back home in Jerusalem if the Temple had not been Destroyed?
Why did God allow all these bad things happen to His very own covenant people?
What is the (Shekinah) "the Glory of God" in Ezekiel.
Did other prophets have profound encounters with God?
How long did the (Neo) Babylonian Empire last and what happened to it?
Who was Cyrus? What did Isaiah say about him? When?
What is the meaning of the phrase "The times of the gentiles?"
What was Daniel busy doing in Babylon and what did he say about the future of human history?
Finally, what is most important of all: How does Ezekiel apply to our lives today?
What is the "Palestinian Covenant of God with the Jews all about? (Hint: Deuteronomy 29-30)
Why was the Captivity of Israel in Babylon 70 years in duration?
What happened to the Jews after Babylon fell?
When and how did the Jews return to Jerusalem? What did they do then? Who were the key figures? Numbers?
What was the Ancient Babylonian Empire all about?
Martin Luther wrote abut "the Babylonian Captivity of the Church." What was he talking about?
What was the Religion of Babylon? What us the symbolic meaning of "Mystery Babylon" in the New Testament?
Finally: what in the world does all this have to do with us?
Ezekiel Chapters 1-3 (NKJV):
1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, 3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.
4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. 6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. 8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. 9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. 17 When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. 18 As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. 19 When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. 20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
22 The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. 23 And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. 24 When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. 25 A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings. 26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.
2:1 And He said to me, 'Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.' 2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. 3 And He said to me: 'Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 'For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD." 5 'As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse--for they are a rebellious house--yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 'And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. 7 'You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. 8 'But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.' 9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.
3:1 Moreover He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.' 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. 3 And He said to me, 'Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.' So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. 4 Then He said to me: 'Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. 5 'For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, 6 'not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 'But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. 8 'Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 'Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.' 10 Moreover He said to me: 'Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. 11 'And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, "Thus says the Lord GOD," whether they hear, or whether they refuse.' 12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: 'Blessed is the glory of the LORD from His place!' 13 I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise. 14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. 16 Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 17 'Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 'When I say to the wicked, "You shall surely die," and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 'Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 20 'Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 'Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.' 22 Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, 'Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.' 23 So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24 Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: 'Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 'And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. 26 'I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 'But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD." He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
|627 BC||Age, 21||20||Jeremiah starts work|
|609 BC||Died, age 39||~38||~12||13||Josiah killed|
|593||30||Ezekiel starts work|
Ezekiel goes to Babylon (597 BC): Jehoiachin [Coniah] was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His motherís name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. 10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. [605 BC] 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. 12 Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.13 And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the kingís house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 14 Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 15 And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The kingís mother, the kingís wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.16 All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. 17 Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachinís uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:8-18)
Daniel goes to Babylon (605 BC): In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. (Daniel 1:1-7)
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth,
Saying, ìSing us one of the songs of Zion!î
How shall we sing the LORDíS song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth--
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, ìRaze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!î
O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!
1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive--to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD.
10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
False Prophets: 15 Because you have said, "The LORD has raised up [our own] prophets for us in Babylon"-- 16 therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, concerning all the people who dwell in this city, and concerning your brethren who have not gone out with you into captivity-- 17 thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. 18 And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth--to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they have not heeded My words, says the LORD, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the LORD. 20 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.
21 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, [the two false prophets] who prophesy a lie to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. 22 And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, "The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire"; 23 because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the LORD.
[A false prophet named Shemaiah] 24 You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, 25 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 "The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the LORD over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks. 27 Now therefore, why have you not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, 'This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit.'" 29 Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: 31 Send to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie-- 32 therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among this people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people, says the LORD, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD. (Jeremiah Chapter 29)
Posted January 14, 2004.
Transforming Encounters between men and God
Compare Ezekiel's vision in Ezekiel Chapters 1-3.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump." (Isaiah 6:1-13)
Daniel and God's throne:
"I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. "I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. "As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. "I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. "I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 'Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. 'But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.' (Daniel 1:1-18)
John and the throne room of God:
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever." (Revelation 4-5)
Don't miss R.C. Sproul "The Holiness of God," MP3
series of six messages: http://ldolphin.org/audio/holy1.mp3
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
I. TITLE OF THE BOOK:
A. In Hebrew: In Hebrew the book is titled yehezqe'l meaning "God strengthens"
B. In Greek: In Greek the book is titled IESEKIHL; the Hebrew is simply transliterated.
II. DATE: 593/2 to 562 B.C.
A. Ezekiel's prophecies seem to be dated around the exile of king Jehoiachin (597 B.C.)Thirteen of Ezekiel's message are dated precisely to the day, month and year of King Jehoiachin's exile to Babylon. The following chart lays out the general chronological arrangement of these prophecies with three exceptions (29:1, 17; 32:1) all of which were oracles against Egypt and thus placed together with the other Egyptian prophecies: 
Chariot Vision 1:1-3 June 593 B.C.
Call to be a Watchman 3:16 June 593
Temple Vision 8:1 August/September 592
Discourse with Elders 20:1 August 591
Second Siege of 24:1 January 588 -- Jerusalem
Judgment on Tyre 26:1 March/April 587/586
Judgment on Egypt 29:1 January 587
Judgment on Egypt 29:17 April 571
Judgment on Egypt 30:20 April 587
Judgment on Egypt 31:1 June 587
Lament over Pharaoh 32:1 March 585
Lament over Egypt 32:17 April 586
Fall of Jerusalem 33:21 December/January 586/85
New Temple Vision 40:1 April 573
B. Ezekiel was called to his prophetic ministry in the fifth
year of the exile of King Jehoiachin--593/92 B.C.
C. Ezekiel's last discourse was dated in the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin's exile--571/70 B.C. (29:17)
D. Ezekiel never mentions the release of Jehoiachin in 560 B.C.
E. Therefore, it reasonable to conclude that Ezekiel's messages cover the period from 593/92 to 571/70 B.C. and were written down in present form from 571/70 B.C. to 562 B.C.
III. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 
A. Josiah brought about the final spiritual revival for Judah when he came to the throne in 622 B.C.
B. The Assyrian Empire Fell
1. The Assyrian power rose with Ashurnasirpal II (884-859 B.C.) and Shalmaneser II (859-824 B.C.)
2. Tiglath-pileser III (Pul in the Scriptures) began a group of conquerors who took Syria and Palestine including Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C. who began the deportation of Samaria), Sargon II (722-705 B.C. who completed the deportation of Samaria), Sennacherib (704-581 B.C. who attacked king of Judah, Hezekiah [Josiah's father]), and Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C. who led campaigns against Egypt)
3. Esarhaddon's son, Ashurbanipal (669-631) ruled much of the upper Egyptian city of Thebes, but his decline and that of Assyria's soon followed
4. Nineveh, the capital, was destroyed in 612 B.C.
5. Assyria's army was defeated in 609 B.C. at Haran
6. What was left of Assyria's army went to Carchemish (just west of the Euphrates River and north of Aram)
C. The Neo-Babylonian Empire Arose
1. Merodach Baladan was a Chaldean and father of Nabopolassar and grandfather of Nebuchadnezzar. Merodach Baladan sent ambassadors to Hezekiah (Isa. 39; 2 Ki 20:12-19)
2. In October 626 B.C. Nabopolassar defeated the Assyrians outside of Babylon
3. In 616 B.C. Nabopolassar expanded his kingdom, and in 612 B.C. he joined with the Medes and destroyed Nineveh
D. A Realignment of Power in 609 B.C. and later
1. Judah: When Assyria fell and Babylon arose Judah, under Josiah, removed itself from Assyria's control and existed as an autonomous state until 609 B.C. when it lost a battle with Egypt on the plain of Megiddo
a. Attempted to expand its presence into Palestine with Assyria's troubles
b. Egypt joined with Assyria to fight the Babylonians at Haran
1) Judah tried to stop Egypt's (Pharaoh Neco II) alliance but was defeated on the plain of Megiddo with the loss of their king, Josiah (cf. 2 Chron 35:20-24)
2) The Assyrians lost their battle with Babylon (even with the help of Egypt) and disappeared as a power in the world, and Egypt retreated to Carchemish as the dividing line between Egypt and Babylonian
3) Egypt ruled Judah:
a) Egypt (Necho) replaced Josiah's son, Jehoahaz, after three months with Jehoiakim (who was another son of Josiah) as a vassal king (2 Ki 23:34-35)
b) Egypt (Necho) plundered Judah's treasuries
c) Egypt (Necho) took Jehoahaz into captivity in Egypt
E. In 605 B.C. other changes of power occurred:
1. Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish
2. Judah's king, Jehoiakim, changed his loyalty to the Babylonians rather than the Egyptians and became Nebuchadnezzar's vassal king (2 Ki. 24:1)
3. Nebuchadnezzar had to return to Babylon with the death of his father, Nebopolassar
4. Nebuchadnezzar solidified his rule by appointing vassal kings and taking hostages; Daniel was taken as a part of this deportation (Dan 1:1-6)
F. In 601 Egypt defeated the Babylonians
1. Judah's king, Jehoiakim, switched loyalty from Babylonia to the Egyptians (2 Ki 24:1)
2. On December of 598 Babylonia made an attack on Jerusalem leading to Jehoiakim's death and the surrender of the city by his successor, Jehoiachin, in March of 597
3. Nebuchadnezzar, replaced Jehoiachin after only three months of reign, deported him and 10,000 other leaders from the city, looted the city, and placed Zedekiah Judah's vassal king (cf. 2 Ki 24:12-16)
G. Ezekiel was one of those deported during this second deportation (597 B.C.). He would begin his prophetic ministry five years later (Ezk 1:2; 8:1 etc.)
1. He lived in Tel Aviv beside the Kebar River (Grand Canal) in Babylon 3:15
2. Dyer writes, "During these final years Ezekiel was ministering in Babylon, predicting the coming collapse of Jerusalem. His message fell on deaf ears till word of the city's destruction was received in Babylon. The fall of the city prompted a change in Ezekiel's prophetic message. Before Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel's message focused on Judah's forthcoming destruction because of her sin. After Jerusalem's fall, Ezekiel's message centered on Judah's future restoration." 
IV. AUTHOR: The Prophet Ezekiel, a priest and son of Buzi (1:3)
A. External Evidence:
1. Ezekiel was considered to be the author of this book until the Twentieth Century when in 1924 Gustav Hoelscher first questioned authorship based upon questionable internal evidence 
2. Therefore, external evidence is almost unanimously in favor of the prophet Ezekiel as the book's author
B. Internal Evidence
1. The autobiographical style of the book supports Ezekiel as the author of the book ("I," "me," "my" are in almost every chapter of the book; cf. chapter 2:1-10)
2. The book has a uniformity of language, style, theme, and message which support the theory of a single author
3. Hill and Walton write, "The lack of strict chronological ordering of the literature may argue in favor of Ezekiel as the compiler of the oracles, since it is very likely another editor would have been more concerned with the deliberate
sequencing of the dated materials" 
V. CANONICAL PLACEMENT
A. In the Hebrew canon Ezekiel is placed following Isaiah and Jeremiah among the Major Prophets
B. In the Greek canon, which the English arrangement follows, Ezekiel is placed after Lamentations which was associated with the Prophet Jeremiah
C. Hill and Walton write, "While Ezekiel was always included in the Hebrew canon, later Jewish scholars disputed the book's canonical value. At issue were seeming discrepancies between the prophet's understanding of temple ritual and he prescriptions of Mosaic law (e.g., a disagreement in the number and kinds of animals sacrificed at the New Moon festival--cf. Num. 28:11 and Ezek. 46:6). The rabbis eventually restricted the public and private use of Ezekiel, commenting that the ultimate harmonization of the difficulties must await 'the coming of Elijah' (cf. Mal 4:5)." 
VI. LITERARY STYLE
A. There are many different "Speech Types" which Ezekiel employs to communicate his message. The following chart lists some of them out 
Judgment oracle Usually 21:1-5 introduced by formula, "I
am against you" Aftermath or Reversing 34:11-15 restoration
judgment formula, oracle "I am for you" Command formula
Especially "Son 6:2-3; 20:46-47 of man, set your face ...
"Woe" oracle of 13:3-7; 34:2-6 indictment Demonstration Usually 13:8-9; 16:36- -oracle containing 42 "because ...therefore" clauses Disputation IN which popular 18:1-20; cf. oracle proverb is 12:22-25 recited and then refuted by
prophetic discourse (e.g., "sour grapes" proverb) Lament Over Tyre 26:15-18 Over Pharaoh 32:1-16 Wailing lament Introduced by 30:1-4 "wail" 32:17-21 Riddles, E.g., parable of 15 parables, the vine Chaps. 17, 19, allegories Allegories of the 23, 24, 27 eagle and cedars, lion, boiling pot etc.
B. The book has a basic chronological arrangement (unlike Jeremiah)
C. The major units of the book follow the chronological flow of Ezekiel's life and naturally relate to the message of the book:
1. Chapters 1--24 speak of judgment since the fall of Jerusalem is coming
2. Chapters 25--32 emphasize judgment upon the nations after the fall of Jerusalem for either being "participants in or gleeful onlookers to 'the day of Jacob's trouble'" 
3. Chapters 33-48 speak of the hope of restoration for the people held in captivity after the fall of Jerusalem.
VII. PURPOSES FOR THE BOOK
A. To speak "locally to the exiles whom Jeremiah addresses by letter (e.g., Jer. 29), as people who continue to listen to false prophets and practice idolatry. The contents of Ezekiel indicate that little has changed in the attitude of the Jewish people who have come to Babylon" 
B. To outline the blessing that follows necessary judgment
C. To emphasize God's sovereignty which will bring about judgment and restoration 
D. To warn Israel as a "watchman" of imminent judgment
E. To stress the need for individual responsibility and national accountability before God 
1. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament,
2. This was adapted from Charles H. Dyer, "Jeremiah," The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament, 1125-27, and Homer Heater, Jr., "Notes on the Book of Jeremiah," unpublished class notes in seminar in the pre-exilic Old Testament prophets (Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1990), 101-105.
3. Charles H. Dyer, "Ezekiel," The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament, 1226. Hill and Walton also emphasize the couture of the book with the development of Ezekiel's message (Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 342-43).
4 .Gustav Hoelscher, "Hesekiel: Der Dicter und das Buch," BZAW 39 (1924).
S. R. Driver wrote early in the Twentieth Century that "No critical question arises in connection with the authorship of the book, the whole from beginning to end bearing unmistakably the stamp of a single mind" (Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 297.
See Gleason L. Archer, Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 377-79 for a more in depth discussion; also see John B. Taylor, Ezekiel: An Introduction & Commentary, 13-20. An exception to this might be that later Jewish tradition
attributed the compilation of Ezekiel's oracles to the men of the Great Synagogue (see also Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 339-40).
5. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 343.
6. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 339. For a fuller discussion of this problem see Gleason L. Archer, Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 381-384. He provides a better resolution when he writes, "In view of the foregoing considerations, the present writer has come to the view that a moderately literal interpretation of these chapters [40--48] is attended by less serious difficulties than a figurative interpretation. Much caution should be exercised in pressing details, but in the broad outline it may be reasonably deduced that in a coming age all the promises conveyed by the angel to Ezekiel will be fulfilled in the glorious earthly kingdom with which the drama of redemption is destined to close. The sacrificial offerings mentioned in these chapters are to be understood as devoid of propitiatory or atoning character, since Christ's sacrifice provided an atonement which was sufficient for all time (Heb 10:12). Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus ordained the sacrament of holy communion as an ordinance to be practiced even after His crucifixion, and He specified that it was to observed until His second coming (1 Co 11:26: 'till he come'). By
premillennial definition, the millennium is to follow His second advent. If, then, there was a sacramental form practiced during the church age, why should there not be a new form of sacrament carried on during the millennium itself?" (Gleason L. Archer, Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 383).
7. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 345.
8 .Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 343.
9. Homer Heater, Jr., "Notes on the Book of Ezekiel," unpublished class notes in seminar in the pre-exilic Old Testament prophets [Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1990], 202.
10 .Whereas Jeremiah's primary emphasis was to warn of impending judgment (with a slight focus upon coming restoration), Ezekiel was emphasizing that necessary judgment on sin established a foundation for future national blessing. Future national blessing is the emphasis of Ezekiel. The opening vision in Jeremiah emphasizes the certain judgment which will come through man (the almond/cauldron), but the opening vision in Ezekiel emphasizes God in his glory in order to reassure him that He will carry out necessary judgment (4--32) and bring his nation subsequent blessing (33--38). While Judgment is the climax in Jeremiah, it is the foundation upon which righteous blessing builds in Ezekiel.
Dyer states it this way, "Ezekiel's purpose in writing chapters 1--32 was to show both the necessity and inevitability of Judah's fall to Babylon because of her sin against God's holy character. After the fall of Jerusalem Ezekiel was recommissioned to show the necessity and inevitability of Judah's restoration to fellowship by God (chaps. 33-48) (Charles H. Dyer, "Notes on the Book of Ezekiel," [Unpublished class notes in 304 Pre-exilic and Exilic Prophets, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1993], 4).
11. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 344.
12. Ralph H. Alexander, "Ezekiel." The Expositor's Bible Commentary, VI:744.
©1996 David Malick, http://www.bible.org. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.