Bible Study: Ezekiel

Ezekiel is the first prophet of the captivity, having been carried away in the first deportation, 11 years before the final fall of the city. In his youth he would have heard Jeremiah, and this became his preparation for his own ministry. He may have been 23 years of age when carried away; his ministry began at age 30.

Ezekiel writes of glory appearing (ch.1), departing (ch.11) and returning (ch.43). The phrase “They shall know that I am Jehovah” occurs 70 times, 47 of which are in chapters 6-39. Ezekiel himself is a sign-sermon; it was God’s way of speaking to a nation with deaf ears. There are ten sign sermons in chapters 4-20 and one in 37:16. Christ also used signs to reach a deaf nation. Ezekiel is showing the people that God without a sanctuary is better than a sanctuary without God!

The first few verses are instructive:

  • His name means “God will strengthen”
  • “in the thirtieth year” – his hopes of serving in the Temple dashed
  • “among the captives” – his circumstances so different; not among the priests
  • “by the river of Chebar” – not in the Temple but by the river
  • “the heavens were opened” – one door closed but another opened
  • “visions of God” – the better reality God gave him
  • “word of the Lord came expressly” – the unique responsibility
  • “unto” (perhaps upon) – burden he would know
  • “Ezekiel the priest” – God remembered he was a priest

Ezekiel was a Judean priest as well as God’s prophet, as were Jeremiah, Zechariah and John the Baptist. Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Zechariah were the only writing prophets who were also priests, and they all ministered during or after the Babylonian exile. Tragically, Ezekiel’s wife died during the course of his ministry (24:15-18).

The book records the date of the beginning of Ezekiel’s ministry as 593 BC. The last dated prophecy came to the prophet in 571 BC (29:17). He began ministering when he was 30 years old, and he gave his last prophecy when he was about 52. Ezekiel’s whole ministry transpired during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BC). His birth may have been about 623 BC. He grew up in Judah during King Josiah’s reforms (622-609 BC). Jeremiah may have been born about 643 BC, 20 years before Ezekiel. Jeremiah began ministering in Judah about 627 BC, so Ezekiel would have been familiar with him and his preaching.

Daniel also went into captivity in 605 BC as a teenager. Ezekiel may have been only a few years older than Daniel. Daniel’s ministry lasted for 70 years until 536 BC (Dan 10:1), much longer, apparently, than Ezekiel’s.

Purpose in Writing

  • Defuse false hopes (see Jer 24). Those left in Jerusalem thought they were the good figs.
  • Define God’s actions in view of the idolatry of the nation
  • Describe the future glory of the nation
  • Destroy futile confidence in external religion

Ezekiel and Pictures of Christ

  • Chs.9-10
  • Ch.17:22-24
  • Ch.21:27
  • Ch.34:29
  • Chs.42-48 (High Priest)
  • Ch.48:35


Preparation by an Incomparable Experience (chs.1-3)

  • Contemplation of the Heavenly Vision (ch.1)
  • Call and Commission from the Heavenly Sovereign (ch.2)
  • Commencement of an Earthly Work (ch.3)

Prophet of Inevitable Doom (chs.4-24)

Judah and Jerusalem (chs.4-7)

  • Sign of Judgment (chs.4-5)
  • Sentence Pronounced (ch.6)
  • Sign of Enslavement (ch.7)

Particulars of Coming Judgment (chs.8-11)

  • Absolute Moral Basis for Judgment (ch.8)
  • Agents of Judgment (ch.9)
  • Abandonment of the Nation (ch.10)
  • Accusation Against the Leadership (ch.11)

Preaching, Parables, Proverbs (chs.12-19)

  • To Princes and People (ch.12)
  • To Prophets and Prophetesses (ch.13)
  • To Elders and People (ch.14)
  • Parable of the Useless Vine (ch.15)
  • Parable of the Unfaithful Wife (ch.16)
  • Parable of the Untrue King (ch.17)
  • Proverb of Responsibility (ch.18)
  • Proverb of the Ruler (ch.19)

Penalty for Political Intrigue (chs.20-24)

  • Detailed Litany of Sin (ch.20:1-44)
  • Destruction under Sovereign Control (ch.20:45-21:32)
  • Deficiency in the Nation (ch.22)
  • Dependence on Foreign Powers (ch.23)
  • Day of Judgment Memorialized (ch.24)

Pronouncement of Impartial and Inescapable Judgment (chs.25-32)

  • Amon – Pleasure at Israel’s fall
  • Moab – Pride
  • Edom – Pitilessness
  • Philistia – Pernicious hatred
  • Tyre – Prosperity through another’s fall
  • Zidon – Provocation
  • Egypt – Power, pride, presumption

Prospect of Invincible Glory (chs.33-48)

  • The Watchman and Principle for Restoration (ch.33)
  • Shepherds and Principle of Responsibility (ch.34)
  • Principles of Retribution (ch.35)
  • Promise of Renewal (ch.36)
  • Promise of National Resurrection (ch.37)
  • Prospect of Ultimate Victory (chs.38-39)
  • Rebuilding of the Temple (chs.40-42)
  • Return of the Glory (ch.43)
  • Regulation Concerning Priesthood (ch.44)
  • Required Offerings (chs.45-46)
  • Refreshment of the Millennial Earth (ch.47)
  • Redistribution of the Land and its Residents (ch.48)