Ezekiel: Prophet of Judgment, Prophet of Promise

Gerald N. Lund

Gerald N. Lund, “Ezekiel: Prophet of Judgment, Prophet of Promise,” in Isaiah and the Prophets: Inspired Voices from the Old Testament, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984), 75–88.

As I looked over the assignment to cover the entire book of Ezekiel in a fifty-minute lecture, it occurred to me that the job is somewhat analogous to trying to guide a tour of Disneyland in one hour. If I were a guide and had to do that for you, I’d really come down to one of two options. One way to do it would be to go inside the park and in that hour’s time, running as fast as we could, try to see as many things as possible, by necessity choosing only the highlights—maybe Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Matterhorn, or the Haunted House. Then our time would be gone. We would just have to say, “When you come back be sure and see this or that.” But there is another option for the guide who really desires to be helpful. At Disneyland there is a monorail which goes all the way around the outside of the park. A guide could spend the hour with you on the monorail, going around and orienting you to the design and layout of the park, pointing out what to look for and how to enjoy it when you get more time to go back.

The same problems are encountered in trying to cover Ezekiel in an hour’s time. We can choose three or four special areas, focus on them in some detail, and tell you that the rest are also interesting. Or we can give an overview, orienting you to the layout of the book, so that when you return to it with more time you can find your own way about.

Obviously, if that is really what we are limited to, both options have their frustrations and their drawbacks. But I choose the second option. We are going to discuss the book of Ezekiel using the “monorail” approach. I accept the inherent frustrations in that approach with the hope that, when you come back to Ezekiel on your own, you will be better oriented, will know what to look for, and will therefore have a more meaningful experience.

As I look at the book of Ezekiel, I find four points of orientation that help us chart our course. They are all interdependent and interwoven, but still can be seen as four ways to view Ezekiel. They are: (1) Ezekiel the man, (2) Ezekiel the captive, (3) Ezekiel the answerer, and (4) Ezekiel the writer.

Ezekiel the Man

Considering the length of his book, we know surprisingly little about Ezekiel the man. His name means “God strengthens,” [1] or, as one scholar translated it, “God will prevail” or “whom God has strengthened.” [2] This name is significant and appropriate.

We know from his own record that he was the son of Buzi (unfortunately we don’t know who Buzi was), and that he was a priest (Ezekiel 1:3). Almost certainly he was carried away captive into Babylon in the second group of captives taken by Nebuchadnezzar (see 2 Kings 24:10–16). Some scholars have speculated that he may have served in the temple in Jerusalem before he was taken captive into Babylon, because in the later chapters it is obvious that he is intimately familiar with the temple rituals and other things that took place there. But he himself makes no mention of it, so that is merely speculation.

Josephus says that Ezekiel was carried away when he was young, implying that he may have been a young man or even a boy. [3] That he was a boy doesn’t seem likely, however, for several reasons. First, it was in the fifth year of his exile that he was called to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:2). Second, in chapter 4, verse 14, Ezekiel spoke of his youth as though it was long past. Third, in the ninth year of his captivity, Ezekiel’s wife died (Ezekiel 24:16–18), which again would seem to imply that he was a little older man. Finally, Ezekiel 1:1 contains an interesting phrase to consider: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month” (emphasis added). Though Ezekiel doesn’t say the thirtieth year of what, some scholars have assumed that maybe it was the thirtieth year of his own life. If that were the case, he would have been about twenty-five when he was taken into captivity. However, if it refers to the thirtieth year of his captivity, we cannot say for sure how old he was (see similar dating references in Ezekiel 29:17; 31:1; and so on).

In two or three places in Ezekiel, we learn that while he was in exile the elders of the Jews came to his home to counsel with him (for example, see Ezekiel 8:1; 14:1; 20:1). Most often they rejected his counsel, but it is interesting that he functioned as a prophet in a very personal, face-to-face setting. It was for this reason that one scholar referred to him as a ‘‘pastor as well as prophet.” [4]

We know from Ezekiel’s own record that he lived among the exiles in Tel Abib (Ezekiel 1:1, 3; 3:15), which seems to have been a colony of the Jewish exiles on the river Chebar, probably a small tributary of the Euphrates a little east of the city of Babylon itself. He spent his life among the captives, and the record indicates that he ministered for at least twenty-two years after his call as a prophet. Some questionable traditions indicate that he died a martyr at the hands of one of the Jewish leaders offended by his prophecies. [5] Beyond that we know virtually nothing more about Ezekiel the man.

However, the Book of Mormon provides one additional interesting insight. In 1 Nephi 1:4, Nephi writes, “For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed” (emphasis added). Ezekiel was contemporary with Lehi and could easily have been one of those prophets. We know the names of four of the prophets of that day—Lehi, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Lehi’s call was to lead a colony out of Jerusalem to a promised land. Jeremiah’s call was to stay and bear witness of the destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel was called into exile, but he went into the royal courts and there was allowed to get a picture of the grand world view of history. Ezekiel was called to go among the captives and explain to them why this terrible tragedy had happened.

Ezekiel the Captive

When I talk about Ezekiel the captive, I refer to the historical setting in which he lived and wrote. And to do that I first need to talk about some historical and prophetic antecedents which are relevant to his time. Then we also need to explain the historical setting in which Ezekiel was found.

Probably the most important historical and prophetic antecedent dates back to Moses and his warnings to the people of Israel as they entered the promised land. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are whole chapters warning the people that once they entered the land of promise they would incur a solemn obligation. As long as they were faithful, righteous, and committed to the covenant, Moses promised them blessings. The land would be blessed, their enemies would be set aside, and so on (see Leviticus 26:1–13; Deuteronomy 28:1–14). But if they broke that covenant, then Moses began a series of grim warnings (see Leviticus 26:14–39; Deuteronomy 28:15–68). In both chapters Moses warned that the conditions would be such that cannibalism would result (see Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53, 57). That prophecy was fulfilled not once but several times (see 2 Kings 6:29; Lamentations 4:9–10). [6]

The second historical precedent was the echoing of Moses’ warning by virtually every prophet after Moses. Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah—everywhere we look, the prophets are found reminding Israel of the basic choice: either be faithful and reap blessings or be unfaithful and reap curses and punishments. The third historical prophetic antecedent occurred approximately one hundred years before Ezekiel’s time when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive by Assyria. It was destroyed, annihilated—it ceased to exist. The people were taken north into Assyria, scattered and assimilated, and lost to history. At the time when the Northern Kingdom fell, the southern border of the kingdom of Assyria was five miles north of Jerusalem. Judah escaped the fate of the Northern Kingdom only by divine intervention because King Hezekiah heeded the counsel of the prophet Isaiah (see 2 Kings 18–19; Isaiah 36–37). Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem. Isaiah told Hezekiah not to worry, that not a single arrow would be fired against the city. And that night, in the quaint translation of the King James Version, 185,000 people woke up dead (see 2 Kings 19:35) and so Judah was delivered.

That event should have been such a graphic demonstration of the principle of spiritual survival—turn to God and live or face destruction—that Judah would have repented. But less than a century later, we find Judah back in the same state of wickedness facing a similar threat of destruction at the hands of Babylon. That is what we mean by the historical/prophetic antecedents of Ezekiel’s time. He knew the warnings, he knew the doctrine, he knew the inevitable certainties if Judah did not repent.

Now let us look at the historical setting of Ezekiel’s own day. In 612 BC, Babylon began to seriously challenge the might of Assyria. Assyria was in a state of serious decay, so Babylonia moved north, and in 612 B.C. Nineveh fell. Basically that signaled the end of the Assyrian Empire. In 609 BC Egypt, preferring a weak Assyria to a strong Babylonia, made an alliance with Assyria. When the final battle between those two empires began, Egypt moved north to side with Assyria. It was at that time, though the scriptural record doesn’t say why, that the righteous King Josiah of Judah tried to stop Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo. As nearly as we can tell it was like a fly trying to stop a bull. Necho swatted the fly and moved on, leaving Josiah dead and Judah mourning (see 2 Kings 23:29–30; 2 Chronicles 35:20–24). Though Assyria was destroyed, the battle between Egypt and Babylon ended more or less in a draw. Pharaoh Necho made Judah a vassal state, appointed King Jehoiakim as his puppet king, and made Judah pay tribute (see 2 Kings 23:31–35).

But Babylon was not through with Egypt. In 605 BC, in what is called one of the significant battles of history, Egypt challenged Babylon in the battle of Carchemish. This time Babylon crushed Egypt and drove her all the way down into the plains of Philistia, which bordered Judah on the west. While he was there King Nebuchadnezzar, having decided that he would teach this state of Judah who their new master was, besieged Jerusalem. Jerusalem was no match for his power and therefore capitulated easily. Nebuchadnezzar withdrew, taking a small group of captives back with him to Babylon. This was the first of three times captives were taken. Daniel was almost certainly taken to Babylon in this first group.

Even though Jehoiakim was now a vassal king to Babylon, for some reason not fully explained in the scriptures he still gave his allegiance to Egypt. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned that Egypt was weak and not to be trusted (see Jeremiah 44:29–30; 46:1–2; Ezekiel 17:15; 29:3, 19). Surprisingly, Egypt and Babylon clashed again in 601 BC, but fought to a standstill this time. So Nebuchadnezzar withdrew back to Babylon. Ignoring the prophetic warnings, Jehoiakim decided that Babylon wasn’t nearly as strong as Nebuchadnezzar had claimed, and he openly switched his allegiance to Egypt and stopped paying tribute to Babylon.

About 598 BC (traditional dating) Nebuchadnezzar decided to teach Judah a lesson. He laid siege to Jerusalem, killed King Jehoiakim, threw his body off the walls, [7] and took three thousand captives. Jehoiachin was appointed as the successor king.

In 2 Kings 24 we read the final outcome of this event. The passage beginning in verse 14 is particularly noteworthy in our study of Ezekiel: “And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.

“And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

“And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand,” and so on, and so on.

So Nebuchadnezzar virtually took the entire upper and middle classes of Jerusalem captive. Ezekiel, being a priest, was certainly included. Even though Ezekiel was now in Babylon, the events in Jerusalem still affected him and his work and are therefore of interest to us.

During the next ten years, Zedekiah, who was appointed to replace Jehoiachin as the ruler in Jerusalem, did not learn a thing from the previous tragedy, nor did Judah. In Jerusalem, false prophets began to abound, predicting that Babylon would be overthrown and the captives returned. While both Jeremiah and Ezekiel strongly denounced these men (see Jeremiah 28, 29; Ezekiel 13), their presence added to the general confusion abounding in Jerusalem.

Then a second interesting event happened. Two prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, reportedly uttered “contradictory” prophecies. Because these two prophecies seemed to directly contradict each other, Zedekiah rationalized that the two true prophets couldn’t be trusted and went on listening to the false prophets. Let’s examine the “contradictory” prophecies.

Jeremiah 34:2–3 says: “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:

“And thou [Zedekiah] shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; [and then notice this phrase] and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon” (emphasis added). That is Jeremiah’s prophecy.

But in Ezekiel 12:13, Ezekiel said of Zedekiah, “My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there” (emphasis added).

It is obvious why the king thought the two prophets contradicted each other. Jeremiah said Zedekiah would look into the eyes of the king of Babylon, while Ezekiel said he would be taken into the land of the Chaldeans but would not see it, even though he would die there.

But of course they did not contradict each other. The fulfillment is an interesting one. When Nebuchadnezzar came a third time and conquered Jerusalem in 587 BC, his generals captured all of the nobles, including Zedekiah and his sons (except Mulek, who escaped), and brought them north to the encampment of their king. Nebuchadnezzar came face to face with his prisoners (so they looked into his eyes) and killed the sons of Zedekiah as Zedekiah watched. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, blinding him, and carried him away captive into Babylon. Thus both predictions were fulfilled: Zedekiah looked into the eyes of the Babylonian king, yet he never saw the land of Babylon, where he was carried captive and later died.

But whatever the cause, Zedekiah and Judah did not repent. Again they revolted against Babylon, and so in 589 BC Nebuchadnezzar returned. This time he said, in effect, “We’ll provide a lesson that everyone will listen to. Let us show the world what happens to those who rebel against Babylon.” He left Jerusalem leveled and in ruins, and Judah was no more.

That is the historical setting in which Ezekiel lived and prophesied. Without an understanding of those circumstances, the meaning of Ezekiel’s writings will largely remain obscure. [8]

Ezekiel the Answerer

In the face of Nebuchadnezzar’s successes in Palestine and the eventual fall of Judah, four important questions naturally arose in the minds of the people.

1. Is Jerusalem really going to be destroyed? In those last ten years of the reign of Zedekiah, that question was asked again and again. This was partly because the false prophets were confusing the people and partly because the Jews couldn’t believe “God’s people” would ever fall.

2. If God is really God, and we are really his chosen people, why is he allowing this to happen?

3. If we are being destroyed for being like the other nations (which Ezekiel and other prophets had said many times), then why aren’t those nations destroyed?

4. What will this tragedy mean for the covenant? What will happen to all of the promises God has made about Israel’s eventual triumph and salvation?

Now, those are some profound questions, and Ezekiel answered each one of them. And in fact, it is in understanding those questions and seeing how Ezekiel sought to answer them that we gain the greatest insights into his book. As much of his work is aimed at answering those questions, let’s take them one at a time.

1. Is Jerusalem really going to be destroyed? Ezekiel gives an unqualified, resounding, thundering, yes! It is the major theme of chapters 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9, 11,12, 15, 19, 21, 22, and 24. They all say Jerusalem has had it. That is a pretty hard answer to miss. Ezekiel himself went through several typological or symbolic actions to dramatize the coming disaster. For example, in chapter 4 he took a tile and drew a picture of Jerusalem on it. Then he put an iron pan against it. In that same chapter, by command of the Lord, he had to lie on his side for so many days, symbolizing the captivity, and then he was told to cook his bread with cow dung to symbolize that the people in Judah would eat defiled bread in coming times. In chapter 5 Ezekiel cut his hair and divided it into thirds, burning some and scattering some, again symbolizing what the people would suffer. In chapter 12 he moved his whole household, showing that the house of Judah was going to be moved out of their dwelling place in Jerusalem.

In chapter 24 we read that Ezekiel’s wife died on the very day Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem (see verses 1–2). Here was given the ultimate symbol or type of Jerusalem’s coming destruction. Beginning in verse 15, note what the Lord told him: “Also the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

“Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes [that is a Hebrew euphemism for wife] with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.

“Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.

“So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning [within twelve hours of his wife’s death!] as I was commanded.” (Emphasis added.)

Isn’t that something? The Lord said in essence that the death of Ezekiel’s wife would serve as a type and symbol of Jerusalem’s destruction. When the people saw his wife die and saw that Ezekiel did not mourn, they asked why. In verse 22 the answer was given: “Ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” And then in verse 24 the Lord explained: “Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do.” Jerusalem was the bride of Jehovah, but there could be no mourning, for her tragedy was just and fully deserved.

So in answer to the people’s first question, “Will Jerusalem really be destroyed?” Ezekiel gives a clear and unmistakable answer—yes.

2. If God is really God, and we are really his chosen people, why is he allowing this to happen? To this second question, once again Ezekiel answers that God is God and Israel is the covenant people. But they have rejected the covenant through wickedness; therefore, the Lord allows these things to happen. Note how clearly Ezekiel responds to this second question:

Ezekiel 5:8: It is the Lord specifically who executes these judgments.

Ezekiel 7:4: The Lord not only refuses to have pity but specifically states, “I will recompense thy ways upon thee.”

Ezekiel 7:19: Riches and wealth were “the stumblingblock of their iniquity.”

Ezekiel 8: This entire chapter is devoted to a vision of the wickedness of Judah, including rampant idolatry which had even found its way into the temple (see especially verses 3–10). The Lord concludes by saying, “Therefore [because of this wickedness] will I also deal in fury” (verse 18).

Ezekiel 16: This chapter contains a scathing denunciation of Israel. The chosen people are described as an illegitimate child; the Lord not only took her in (verses 3–9) but adorned her like a bride (verses 10–14) and married her himself. Instead of being faithful to her marriage to Jehovah, Israel played the part of the harlot (verse 15), whoring after false gods. Indeed, the Lord said, she was worse than a harlot, for such a woman is unfaithful because her lovers give her money and gifts. In her spiritual adultery, Israel actually gave gifts to her lovers—the false gods (verses 26–34). Then in that same chapter, in equally vivid imagery (see verses 44–59), the Lord compared Judah to her spiritual sisters, Samaria (that is, the northern kingdom of Israel, now lost and destroyed) and Sodom (the epitome of spiritual corruption).

And so Ezekiel’s answer to the second question thunders out again and again. Judah and Jerusalem will reap the whirlwind they have sown in wickedness for generations. In chapter 33, Ezekiel gives one of the most profound and clear expositions of why judgments come upon a people. Clearly, Ezekiel explains, God takes no pleasure in sending these judgments, but the people leave him no choice. Note especially the language of verses 10–11.

3. The third question raised by the tragedy of Judah has to do with the surrounding nations. The Lord often noted that the Jews were no different than their neighbors. Because they had committed whoredoms with Egypt, Assyria, and the Chaldeans, they were facing destruction. That is understandable, but the spinoff question is, why doesn’t God destroy the other nations too? Ezekiel answers this question in two ways. The first answer is based on the principle taught in Doctrine and Covenants 82:3, that “unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light receives the greater condemnation.” Note how Ezekiel repeatedly reminded the people that they were the Lord’s chosen, that they had the law and the covenant. They were not like the Gentiles in light and knowledge, but they had lowered themselves to maintain the same standards of behavior. (The following references are only a brief sampling of many where Ezekiel teaches this principle: Ezekiel 3:4–7; 5:5–7; 8:17–18; 9:9; 13:2–10; 16:6–9, 15; 20:5.) So his first answer to the third question is simply: You have greater light than they; therefore, more is required of you.

His second answer is also clear and simple: Whoever said that the other nations are exempt from the wrath of the Lord? Chapters 25 to 32 and chapter 35 describe the judgments that would come or had already come upon Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. While these nations were sometimes used by the Lord as the rods for punishing Israel, Ezekiel’s prophecies show that they were not exempt from his judgments either.

4. The fourth question which arises out of the tragedy of these times asks: If Jerusalem is destroyed, if the temple is lost, if we are scattered among the Gentiles, what does this mean for the covenant? Are we totally rejected by God? Are the promises and prophecies now set aside?

In his answer to the first three questions Ezekiel is a “prophet of judgment,” but his answers to this final question make him a “prophet of promise.” A careful study of his writings shows that even the most harsh and caustic predictions and judgments were counterbalanced by an immediate addendum of hope. For example, after making dire and specific predictions of Jerusalem’s destruction through famine, pestilence, war, and cannibalism (see Ezekiel 5:5–17), after predicting that Israel will be smitten with such devastation that the bones of the people will lie unburied before the altars of their false gods (see Ezekiel 6:4–5), the Lord tells Ezekiel: “Yet will I leave a remnant. . . . And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations. . . . And they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 6:8–10).

Chapters 7 through 11 give an unremitting, uncompromising picture of Judah’s wickedness and the consequent fury of the Lord—desolation, war, pestilence, destruction, widespread slaughter, and the carrying away of the survivors into captivity. But then again, once the Lord has poured out a picture of grim and stark despair he immediately, with two simple words, changes the tone. “Although I have cast them far off . . . yet will I be to them as a . . . sanctuary” (Ezekiel 11:16). Then follows a specific prophecy of Israel’s restoration—a prophecy of great hope and tremendous promise:

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:17–20)

This pattern of judgment and hope is repeated over and over. Earlier in this article, mention was made of the scathing denunciation of Judah in chapter 16, where the covenant people are compared to a harlot and to the cities of Sodom and Samaria. The words almost smoke even after twenty–six centuries. And yet when the denunciation was finished, there followed a promise of the restoration of the everlasting covenant, beginning with the hope–laden word “nevertheless” (Ezekiel 16:60–63).

Additionally, we find in Ezekiel’s writings some of the grandest and most promising prophecies of Israel’s future restoration and acceptance by the Lord:

  1. Israel will return to the covenant and experience an eventual conversion to the gospel (Ezekiel 6:8–10; 11:17–20; 16:60–63; 17:22–24; 20:33–44; 33:11–16; 36:25–28; 37:1–14).
  2. Israel will again have true prophets, loving pastors, and even the Messiah, the new David, to rule over them and teach them (Ezekiel 34:16–25; 37:24–28).
  3. The land of Israel will be blessed and become fruitful, productive, and inhabited again (Ezekiel 33:26–28; 36:33–35; 47:1– 11).
  4. Latter–day scripture will be joined with the writings of Judah (Ezekiel 37:15–20).
  5. Joseph and Judah will become one nation again, united under the gospel covenant (Ezekiel 37:21–25).
  6. The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem again (Ezekiel 37:26–28; chapters 40–47).
  7. The nations of the world will gather against Israel, but will be defeated through the help of the Lord, bringing in an era of peace and triumph for them (Ezekiel 38–39).
  8. Israel will receive the land of promise as their permanent inheritance (Ezekiel 47–48).

What a message of hope and inspiration, and note how directly each of those prophecies serves to answer these questions. Has the Lord forgotten Israel? Is the covenant no longer valid? Are the chosen people to be destroyed? Is the promised land lost forever? Thus we can truly call Ezekiel the prophet of judgment and promise.

Ezekiel the Writer

Our final area of examination is to look at the organization of Ezekiel’s book. The text gives no clue to who collected and organized his writings into the book we now find in the Old Testament. It may have been Ezekiel himself, but whoever did it seems to have understood the four basic questions and Ezekiel’s answers to them. Note the following structure:

Chapters 1–3

God is God. He is real and has all power. He has called me, Ezekiel, as his prophet.

Chapters 4–24

Because of idolatry, wickedness, and rejection of the covenant, Jerusalem is going to be destroyed and Israel scattered.

Chapters 25–32

The surrounding nations are likewise going to reap the judgments of God because of their wickedness.

Chapters 33–48

But God will still fulfill the covenants he made with the ancient patriarchs. Israel will not be totally destroyed. In the future they will be restored to their lands, converted to the true covenant, have righteous prophets, rebuild their temple, and accept the Messiah as their ruler.

Summary and Conclusion

There you have it—a quick “monorail ride” around Ezekiel. I admit that we have had to ignore much that is of great interest, much that is of great worth. And while this approach has been somewhat frustrating and incomplete, at least I hope you will return at your own leisure to read the book of Ezekiel and to study him in depth, using this introduction to help you find greater satisfaction and fruitfulness.


[1] J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 406.

[2] Samuel Fallows, The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia, 3 vols. (Chicago: Howard-Severance, 1911), 1:639.

[3] Flavius Josephus, Josephus: Complete Works, trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1960), Antiquities of the Jews, 10.6.3.

[4] James Hastings, ed., Dictionary of the Bible (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), 251.

[5] Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible; Fallows, 1:639.

[6] See also Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.4.4.

[7] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10.6.3.

[8] For excellent summaries of this period of history see Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the Biblical World (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), 124–30; Michael Avi-Yonah, ed., A History of the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Publishing House, 1969), 90–97; Great People of the Bible and How They Lived (Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest, 1974), 230–45.