The name of this book reflects the name of its author; Ezekiel. According to Ezekiel 1:3, he was a priest, the son of Buzi, and lived in the land of the Chaldeans when the word of the Lord came to him. Ezekiel's name is only mentioned two times in all of scripture; Ezekiel 1:3 and Ezekiel 24:24. Rose Publishing has stated that,
“His mistry could be seen as bizarre: Ezekiel lied motionless for long periods (4:4-7), was mute (3:24-27; 24:25-27; 33:22), did not mourn the death of his wife (24:15-27), received strange and vivid visions (1-2; 8-11; 15-18; 21; 23-24; 37-48), and behaved in unusual ways, such as shaving his head with a sword and burning, cutting, or scattering the hair around the city (5:1-4; 4:12; 12:3-5).
The theologian Norman Geisler states that there is substantial evidence that supports Ezekiel as the author of this book.
Norman Geisler says, “In brief, there is no plausible reason why Ezekiel could not have written this book and there are good reasons to believe that he did.”
Between 593 and 570 B.C.
According to the theologian Norman Geisler, Ezekiel was called to his prophetic ministry in 593 B.C. (the fifth year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin). Ezekiel would have been about thirty years of age (1:1). Geisler continues with the statement that, “The Book of Ezekiel was written between 593 and 570 B.C. (cf. 29:17).
Those dates have also been confirmed by another resource which states, “We can date [Ezekiel's] first vision to 593 B.C. (1:1-3) and his last one in 571 B.C. (29:17), which means Ezekiel's ministry lasted about 22 years. Ezekiel may have written his book shortly after the end of his public ministry.”
The Hebrew name Yehezke'l means “God Strengthens” or “Strengthened by God.” Ezekiel is indeed strengthened by God for the prophetic ministry to which he is called (3:8, 9). The name occurs twice in this book and nowhere else in the Old Testament. The Greek form in the Septuagint is Izekiel and the Latin form in the Vulgate is Ezechiel.
Babylonian exiles who were discouraged.
Visions were given in Tell-Abib.
Historically, comfort and encouragement were necessary for the children of Israel. They were told the truth. There was going to be a not-so-soon return and what their restoration was going to be like or God's restoration plans. Doctrinally, the book of Ezekiel shows faithfulness and glory of God. Particularly, keeping his promises is how God showed his faithfulness. Also, the revealing of God's glory is in Israel's sins being punished. Chistologically, God's glory is Christ in the future. God is the “Renewer of the covenant, the Shepherd of the flock, the Cleanser of the Temple, the Regenerator of Israel.” The book generally has revealed that “He is…the Restorer of Israel.”
Ezekiel is divided up in three parts. First, Judah is condemmed by God. In other words, God's glory is saying goodbye to Judah. Second, the nations are being visited by God so that glory can be prepared. Third, Israel is restored by God's glory returning.
First, we look at how Judah is condemned by God. First, God commanded Ezekiel to tell the people of what God was going to tell them about the sins of the people. First he saw a vision, a voice and then he went reluctantly. Second, Ezekiel goes out to proclaim. First, he builds Jerusalem's replica. Then, the harassing was being acted out. Last, Ezekiel was to symbolize how long Judah and Israel was going to be judged by lying on his side as a symbol. Second, chapters 8-11 illustrate Jerusalem's need. They needed to be judged. Visons reveled to Ezekiel that Jerusalem was violent and idolatrous. Third, chapters 12-24 tell about what God's judgment is like. God's judgment and “every vision” was soon to take place. There was no doubt about it.
Second, the nations were being visited by God so that glory can be prepared. God was asked by Ezekiel to judge Israel's enemies because they sinned too.
Lastly, Israel is restored by God's glory returning. First, Israel is going to be given this new life. First, God can only give them life if their sins are confessed and repented. Second, the people of God are Resurrected. Edom has repeatedly hurt Israel therefore Edom is urged. They needed to stop for the children of Israel to be restored. Third, the “visitation of Israel's enemies.” After Israel's invasion from their enemies, God will conquer their enemies. And they will forever be defended by God in their homeland. Second, Israel will have a “new order.” This includes their temple, worship, land and river being messianic in their “full and final restoration.”
How should we interpret Ezekiel?
Ezekiel can be interpreted in two ways: spiritual and literal. Spiritually it can be interpreted as the New Testament Christian church is going off the Jewish Old Testament symbolically. Literally, “the Old Testament sacrificial system” restored “in”…“restored”… “Israel”.
First, the you could interpret this book spiritually symbolically of the Old Testament to the New Testament church in a couple of reasons. First, offering sacrifices in the old Testament system is no more according to the New Testaments because of the fulfillment by Christ. Secondly, God has said in the New Testament that the Christian church is the fulfillment of the predictions in the Old Testament spiritually or symbolically.
Second, the book of Ezekiel can be interpreted literally because in the “thousand – year messianic reign of Christ,” the sacrificial system and the Temple will be restored in Israel. Here are a few reasons why these interpretations seem better. First, “when the literal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense.” Hermeneutics takes this as a “general rule.” Second, Israel (I Cor. 10:32) is different than the Christian church (Matt. 16:18). An example is the promise made to Abraham. Lastly, here is some proof that only Israel pertains to Ezekiel’s picture. First, God along with the Christian church, is going to reign. Also, Israel is literally going to be restored in the 1000-year reign in Revelations.
How can we apply this book to our lives?
Nothing happens by accident. Babylon might have seemed like a useless place to live, but it is not. Second, because Ezekiel had a “vision of God”, he was able to faithfully minister by God’s calling. Have that “vision of God” helps us serve God more effectively. By this we honor God. God is “majestic, sovereign, merciful, and faithful.” “Either he is… or he is not.” Lastly, we are doing what called us to do because pleasing God is really important. The results and even the final result in our life depends on our “view of God.”
Zeisler – pbc.org
Geisler, Norman. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. Baker Book House,1977.
Rose Publishing, Bible Overview
1989 Thomas Nelson Reference Edition King James Version Bible