Ezekiel, whose name means “strengthened by God,” grew up in Jerusalem, served as a priest in the temple and was among the second group of captives taken to Babylon along with King Jehoiachin. While in Babylon he became a prophet of God; he is the author of the Old Testament book that bears his name. Ezekiel’s ministry began with condemnation and judgment of the nation Judah. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel’s prophecies speak of hope for the future. Ezekiel wanted to help the people learn from their failures. He announced impending judgment upon the nations that surrounded Judah and reestablished hope for the restoration of Israel. His vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) pictures new life being breathed into the nation, which will occur in the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth.
Ezekiel’s first vision was of God’s throne and included the four living creatures and whirling wheels. Ezekiel also had detailed visions of a new temple , a restored Jerusalem , the millennium , and the land in which God’s people will reside . Israel and Judah will once again be restored to unity from the ends of the earth as God’s glory also returns and God dwells among His people. These beautiful visions of Ezekiel concern both the immediate and the long-term plans of God. Ezekiel delivered God’s messages with straightforward language that everyone could understand, whether they listened or not . Ezekiel himself received a warning from God that, if he did not faithfully warn of the punishment for not following God, he would be held accountable for the blood of those who died in their sins . He did not hesitate in his mission and steadfastly followed God’s instructions. Ezekiel had a passionate view of judgment and hope, and he reflected God’s own sorrow over the people’s sins.
The prophet experienced considerable opposition during his own lifetime, yet he doggedly expressed God’s desire that the wicked not die but turn from their wicked ways and live. His periodic speechlessness during his early years was broken when God empowered him to speak, and his tongue was loosened to speak the longest passage of sustained hope in the Bible. The burning, chopping, and scattering of his hair represented the fall of Jerusalem and the bringing back of God’s remnant (chapter 5). The hopeful words climax in the promise of everlasting possession of the land, an everlasting Davidic prince, an everlasting covenant, and an everlasting sanctuary in Israel . He leaps ahead to a time after Israel has been restored to the mysterious invasion from the north that will be brought by Yahweh against Israel, but then will be utterly defeated. This demonstrates that no enemy nation will ever invade the Holy Land again with success, and the glory of the God of Israel returns, entering through the east gate of the temple Ezekiel envisions.
Ezekiel has shown all Christians that we are to be obedient to God’s call on our lives. God told Ezekiel to groan with a broken heart and bitter grief for the coming judgment, and through his dramatic book, Ezekiel is telling us the very same thing. This judgment is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord! We, too, can warn others and share with them the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.