Book of the Week 26: Ezekiel

Hebrew Name: Y’chizki’el

Human Author: Ezekiel                                                      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 48

Basic Facts

  1. Ezekiel is the twenty-sixth book of the Bible.
  2. The Hebrew name for Ezekiel is Y’chizki’el, which means “God strengthens.”
  3. Ezekiel’s ministry was to the southern kingdom of Judah and later to the exiles who were carried off into Babylon.
  4. In terms of literary genre, Ezekiel is classified as a book of prophecy.
  5. Ezekiel records the story of how the Babylonians destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem.

Story of the Book

Ezekiel was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah in his earlier ministry, and in his later ministry, he ministered to the exiles of Judah who were carried off into Babylon. Ezekiel begins with a description of the prophet’s calling by God to Judah. The rest of Ezekiel contains the following pieces:

  • A series of symbolic acts by Ezekiel foretelling the fall of Jerusalem
  • The assurance of coming judgment for the nation’s sins
  • Babylon as God’s agent of judgment
  • Oracles concerning other kingdoms and God’s judgement on them including Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Egypt
  • God’s future message of hope for a restored Jerusalem
  • God’s message of future hope for Judah
  • The future hope for restoring the worship of God

The book of Ezekiel ends with God’s pronouncement of a future division of the promised land by tribe and a restoration of the city of Jerusalem. God pronounces that when this restoration of the land and of the city of Jerusalem is fulfilled, the name of the city of Jerusalem will be changed to be “the LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). God would then live among men!

Jesus Foreshadowed in Ezekiel

Ezekiel is a message of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, but it is also a message of hope for a future restoration given by God. There are dozens of direct and indirect references to Ezekiel in the New Testament, but over three quarters of them are found in the book of Revelation and foretell future judgments. However, Ezekiel chapter 34 develops a theme of shepherding that describes the leaders of Israel/Judah. The leaders of Israel/Judah had failed to shepherd God’s people. As a result, God declares, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered” (Ezekiel 34:11-12). This theme of God as a shepherd is developed in the New Testament to describe the role and ministry of Jesus. Jesus Christ describes himself saying, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:9-11) (see also: Luke 15:3-7). Just as Ezekiel brings a message of judgment in which God will scatter the nation into exile, like a good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, Jesus Christ will seek out the people of God and restore all those who come to him by faith. There are many other examples of Jesus foreshadowed--too many to mention here--but the shepherding theme is one of the clearest examples.