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Book of Ezekiel



What is known of Ezekiel is derived solely from the book that bears his name. He was among the Jews exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 b.c., and there among the exiles he received his call to become a prophet (see ). He was married (see ), lived in a house of his own (see ) and along with his fellow exiles, though confined to Babylonia, had a relatively free existence there.

He was of a priestly family (see ) and therefore was eligible to serve as a priest. As a priest-prophet called to minister to the exiles (separated from the temple of the Lord with its symbolism, sacrifices, priestly ministrations and worship rituals), his message had much to do with the temple (see especially chs.) and its ceremonies.

Ezekiel was obviously a man of broad knowledge, not only of his own national traditions but also of international affairs and history. His acquaintance with general matters of culture, from shipbuilding to literature, is equally amazing. He was gifted with a powerful intellect and was capable of grasping large issues and of dealing with them in grand and compelling images. His style is often detached, but in places it is passionate and earthy (see ).

More than any other prophet (more even than Hosea and Jeremiah) he was directed to involve himself personally in the divine word by acting it out in prophetic symbolism.


Since the book of Ezekiel contains more dates than any other OT prophetic book, its prophecies can be dated with considerable precision. In addition, modern scholarship, using archaeology (Babylonian annals on cuneiform tablets) and astronomy (accurate dating of eclipses referred to in ancient archives), provides precise modern calendar equivalents.

Twelve of the 13 dates specify times when Ezekiel received a divine message. The other is the date of the arrival of the messenger who reported the fall of Jerusalem ().

Having received his call in July, 593 b.c., Ezekiel was active for 22 years, his last dated oracle being received in April, 571 (see ). If the "thirtieth year" of (see ) refers to Ezekiel's age at the time of his call, his prophetic career exceeded a normal priestly term of service by two years (see ). His period of activity coincides with Jerusalem's darkest hour, preceding the 586 destruction by 7 years and following it by 15.

The OT in general and the prophets in particular presuppose and teach God's sovereignty over all creation, over people and nations and the course of history. And nowhere in the Bible are God's initiative and control expressed more clearly and pervasively than in the book of Ezekiel. From the first chapter, which graphically describes the overwhelming invasion of the divine presence into Ezekiel's world, to the last phrase of Ezekiel's vision ("the Lord is there") the book sounds and echoes God's sovereignty.

This sovereign God resolved that he would be known and acknowledged. Approximately 65 occurrences of the clause (or variations) "Then they will know that I am the Lord" testify to that divine desire and intention (see ). Overall, chs. teach that God will be revealed in the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple; chs. teach that the nations likewise will know God through his judgments; and chs. promise that God will be known through the restoration and spiritual renewal of Israel.

God's total sovereignty is also evident in his mobility. He is not limited to the temple in Jerusalem. He can respond to his people's sin by leaving his sanctuary in Israel, and he can graciously condescend to visit his exiled children in Babylon.

God is free to judge, and he is equally free to be gracious. His stern judgments on Israel ultimately reflect his grace. He allows the total dismemberment of Israel's political and religious life so that her renewed life and his presence with her will be clearly seen as a gift from the Lord of the universe.

Furthermore, as God's spokesman, Ezekiel's "son of man" status (see ) testifies to the sovereign God he was commissioned to serve.