Who wrote it?
The Prophet Ezekiel is the author of the Book (Ezekiel 1:3). He was a contemporary of both Jeremiah and Daniel.
When(ish) was it written?
Ezekiel was likely written between 593 and 565 BC during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.
Why was it written?
Ezekiel ministered to his generation who were both exceedingly sinful and thoroughly hopeless. By means of his prophetic ministry he attempted to bring them to immediate repentance and to confidence in the distant future. He taught that:
God works through human messengers
Even in defeat and despair God’s people need to affirm God’s sovereignty
God’s Word never fails
God is present and can be worshiped anywhere
God’s Kingdom will come
Some Key Verses
And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”
– Ezekiel 2:3-6
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
– Ezekiel 18:4
Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
– Ezekiel 28:12-14
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
– Ezekiel 33:11
And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.
– Ezekiel 48:35
A Quick Summary
How can you cope with a world gone astray? Ezekiel, destined to begin his life’s ministry as a priest at age thirty, was uprooted from his homeland and marched off to Babylon at age of twenty-five. For five years he languished in despair. At age thirty a majestic vision of Yahweh’s glory captivated his being in Babylon. Ezekiel discovered that God was not confined to the narrow strictures of his native land. Instead, God is a universal God who commands and controls persons and nations. In Babylon, God imparted to Ezekiel His Word for the people. This call and experience transformed Ezekiel. He became completely devoted to God’s Word. He realized he had nothing on his own to assist the captives in their bitter situation, but was convinced that God’s Word spoke to their condition and could give them victory in it. Ezekiel used various methods to convey God’s Word to His people. He used art in drawing a depiction of Jerusalem, symbolic actions, and unusual conduct to secure attention. He cut his hair and beard to demonstrate what God would do to Jerusalem and its inhabitants.
Ezekiel’s book can be divided into four sections:
Chapters 1-24: prophecies on the ruin of Jerusalem
Chapters 25-32: prophecies of God’s judgment on nearby nations
Chapter 33: a last call for repentance to Israel
Chapters 34-48: prophecies concerning the future restoration of Israel
Ezekiel 34 is the chapter wherein God denounces the leaders of Israel as false shepherds for their poor care of His people. Instead of caring for the sheep of Israel, they cared for themselves. They ate well, were well-clothed and well-cared for by the very people they had been placed over (Ezekiel 34:1-3). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep and who protects them from the wolves who would destroy the flock (John 10:11-12). Verse 4 of chapter 34 describes people whom the shepherds failed to minister to as weak, sick, injured, and lost. Jesus is the Great Physician who heals our spiritual wounds (Isaiah 53:5) by His death on the cross. He is the one who seeks and saves the lost (Luke 19:10).
What does this mean?
The book of Ezekiel calls us to join in a fresh and living encounter with the God of Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. We must be overcomers or we will be overcome. Ezekiel challenged us to experience a life changing vision of God’s power, knowledge, eternal presence, and holiness; to let God direct us; to comprehend the depth of and commitment to evil that lodges in each human heart; to recognize that God holds His servants responsible for warning wicked men of their peril; to experience a living relationship with Jesus Christ, who said that the new covenant is to be found in His blood.
Take a few minutes to review the Scripture from Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 8, Ezekiel 37, John 20:19-23. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What would you like to remember and apply to your life?
In Ezekiel 1, when Ezekiel is most desperate, God speaks truth clearly to him. Today, God speaks truth clearly to us through the Bible. Have there been times of desperation in your life? What specific passages or truths from God’s Word have been helpful to you?
What are your idols? What (or who) do you tend to cherish more than you cherish God? How have you worked to raise your level of worship toward God in a way that everything else gets ranked underneath Him?
Have you put your trust in the Son of Man, Jesus? Has He raised you from spiritual death, with no effort involved on your part? Has He breathed His Spirit into your life? Take a few minutes to reflect on God’s grace to save (when we have done nothing to deserve this gift), and also the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us to walk in truth. How has God’s grace, through Jesus, changed your life?
Who do you know that needs to hear more about Jesus? How can you serve, listen to, include, invite, encourage, and/or pray for that person? How can your group be of help? Consider ways you as a group might be able to provide pathways for those who don’t yet know Jesus.