Book of Ezekiel

Concise Bible Dictionary:

This prophecy comprehends all Israel. In it are given the governmental ways of God upon earth, of which Israel was the center (Deut. 32:88When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8)). Hence it does not mention the times of the Gentiles or the four monarchies, but passes on to the end, when the throne of government will again return to Jerusalem, instead of judging it. The book divides itself into distinct portions: the first extends to the end of Ezekiel 24. After the first chapter the testimony is against Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. This part of the prophecy being given before the destruction of Jerusalem, that melancholy event naturally occupies a large place. The second portion is respecting God’s judgments on the nations that surrounded the promised land, and which had been more or less connected with Israel (Ezek. 25-32). The third portion is the judgment on Israel, and upon Gog and its allies in the future; and then the blessing of all Israel (Ezek. 33-39). The fourth portion is the future temple, its service, and the division of the land, ending with the joyful tidings that the name of the city will then be “The Lord is there” (Ezek. 40-48).
Ezekiel 2-3. are preliminary. Ezekiel must speak, whether Israel will hear or not: he must eat (that is, accept in his own soul) the book of prophecy, and be faithful in warning the wicked.
Ezekiel 4-7. The destruction of Jerusalem. It was portrayed on a tile, and the prophet had to lie on his left side 390 days for Israel, and 40 days on his right side for Judah, to bear their iniquities—a day for a year. The 390 days were probably from the division of the kingdom in B.C. 975 till 588, the destruction of Jerusalem—388 entire years or nominally 390—“Israel,” as often, representing the ten tribes. It is not so manifest to what the 40 years for Judah refer: it was for the iniquity of Judah, and may refer to the reign of Manasseh before his captivity and reformation, for that is pointed out as the crowning sin of Judah, and for which they were sent into captivity (2 Kings 21:11-1311Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: 12Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. (2 Kings 21:11‑13)).
Ezekiel 8. speaks of the idolatry that was in connection with the temple, though much of it was in secret and had to be dug out.
Ezekiel 9. The remnant who lament over the abominations are marked in their foreheads. It is well pleasing to God that any should mourn over the evil in connection with His name, even though they cannot rectify it.
Ezekiel 10-11. The cherubim act against Jerusalem. The rulers are condemned, but there is mercy and restoration for the pious remnant.
Ezekiel 12. The flight and captivity of Zedekiah are foretold.
Ezekiel 13. The false prophets in Jerusalem are judged. In all ages one must have the mind of God in order to escape the teaching of such.
Ezekiel 14-15. God’s judgments of Jerusalem and its people.
Ezekiel 16. The original state of Jerusalem as a cast-out infant, but loved and cherished by God. Her great sin is related, but there is mercy in the end.
Ezekiel 17-20. Instruction under various parables.
Ezekiel 21-24. The invasion and destruction of Jerusalem; during the relation of which the wife of Ezekiel, the desire of his eyes, died. He was not to mourn for the loss, and when the captives inquired of him what they were to learn from this, they were told that when God’s judgments fell upon the temple and upon their sons and daughters, they were not to mourn; but to pine away for their iniquities and in groaning one to another.
Ezekiel 25-32. The prophecies against the Gentile nations which surrounded Palestine, and which had at one time or another intercourse with Israel. The prophecies are against Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. Against Tyre literally and as a type of its arts, in contrast to Israel as the people of God—a prophecy that stretches beyond history. In it is the remarkable description of an “anointed cherub,” giving the features of one who was at one time in a very exalted position; but who fell from his integrity and became the enemy of God; which is doubtless a description of Satan (Ezekiel 28:11-1911Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 12Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. 18Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. 19All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. (Ezekiel 28:11‑19)). Ezekiel 28:20-2620Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 21Son of man, set thy face against Zidon, and prophesy against it, 22And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Zidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee: and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. 23For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am the Lord. 24And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord God. 25Thus saith the Lord God; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. 26And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God. (Ezekiel 28:20‑26) are against Zidon. Ezekiel 29-32 are against Egypt, which is typical of the pride of nature, or the world of nature.
Ezekiel 33-36. Prophecies against Israel, to be followed by future restoration and blessing, and judgment on those who will oppress them. In Ezekiel 33-35 God reasons with His people. In Ezekiel 36 there is blessing for them.
Ezekiel 37. is restoration, under the vision of the valley of dry bones and the two sticks. It has been thought by many, because of the graves being opened, and the people being brought out of their graves, that this passage refers to the resurrection of the body; but the people are saying, before the graves are opened, “Our bones are dried and our hope is lost,” the exact feeling of many to this day. The resurrection is used as a figure of life being given to Israel, and also to Judah. The two nations are to be one, an exceeding great army, and they will be gathered into their own land. It need hardly be said that this cannot apply to those of Judah who returned under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is still future, and will surely be accomplished.
Ezekiel 38-39. The restoration of Israel will be opposed. Gog and Magog will be the chief opponents. In Ezekiel 38:22Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, (Ezekiel 38:2), instead of “O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal,” the LXX reads, “O Gog...Rosh, prince of Mesoch and Thobal,” and so again in Ezekiel 39:11Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: (Ezekiel 39:1). This is held to be the true meaning and that Rosh refers to Russia, and that it will be the head of that nation that will be the chief enemy of Israel when they are brought back to their own land. The enemies will be destroyed, and Israel will be blessed.
Ezekiel 40-48. Refer to the future temple and the sacrifices, with the division of the land among the twelve tribes. As this prophecy was delivered many years before Zerubbabel and the exiles returned, it has been thought by some that the temple here spoken of refers to the temple which they built, though they might not have attempted to build according to the plan here laid down. But in Ezekiel the instructions for the temple follow the restoration of the twelve tribes, and the destruction of their opposing enemies. There was nothing approaching that in the return under Zerubbabel. Here too it is linked with dividing the whole land among the twelve tribes: it must therefore certainly be still future.
A difficulty has arisen in the minds of some with regard to the resumption of animal sacrifices. Whilst the efficacy of the blood of Christ must ever remain unimpaired before God, there are certainly differences in its application. Christians have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus: Jews, as such, have no such privilege. The most holy place will be again found in the temple, a comparative distance from God being maintained for man on earth, and the renewed sacrifices are consistent with this state of things. They must however have a commemorative character.
Besides the temple, for which full details are given; and besides the sacrifices and feasts (remarkable for the absence of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Weeks), there is A PRINCE mentioned, and a portion of land allotted to him, together with the sacrifices he will offer. If these things are taken literally, all is plain and easy to be understood. Doubtless the prince will be a representative of the royal house of David. That there is deep moral import in the details is evident from Ezekiel 43:10-1110Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. 11And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. (Ezekiel 43:10‑11), though there may be many physical changes in the land. A river is to flow from the sanctuary, and will have trees growing on its banks and will transform the Dead Sea into one full of life, with all manner of fish (compare Joel 3:1818And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:18): Zech. 14:88And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (Zechariah 14:8)). The whole of the land will be possessed and be divided into twelve portions (besides a holy portion for the sanctuary, the priests, the Levites, and the city, the temple not being built in the future Jerusalem: see TEMPLE, EZEKIEL’S, and accompanying map). The position of each tribe is duly stated. The condition of the city will be entirely changed from the ruin and wretchedness that now characterize it under the judgment of God; and the name of it from that day shall be “The Lord is there.”
The Book of Ezekiel is thus full of interest to the Christian as showing the great care God had for His people during their captivity, and the bright scene of future earthly blessing that is spread out before them. Some of the prophecies were literally fulfilled in times past: surely then the rest of the events foretold, which have not yet been fulfilled, are as certain as those which have. It is God who has spoken, and He it is who will bring it all to pass.