Ezekiel: Preacher of the Exile

Title: The Book of Ezekiel is named after its author (1:3). ďEzekiel Ē means ďGod will strengthen .Ē

Background: Ezekiel was carried away to Babylon in the second deportation in 597 B.C. He lived with the exiles ďby the river Chebar Ē (1:1,2), which perhaps was a canal off the Euphrates. He preached among the Jewish captives, while Daniel (who had been deported in 605 B.C.) ministered in the palace. Ezekiel & Daniel probably knew each other well (14:12,20; 28:3).

Ezekiel had two tasks as a prophet: {1} Before the destruction of Jerusalem, he had to combat undue optimism. The optimism of the exiles was based on three things: They were Abrahamís seed, a descendent of David was still on the throne, and the temple of God still stood. {2} After the destruction of the city, he had to combat undue despair.

Ezekiel used a variety of teaching methods. Often God had Ezekiel act out what would happen; many of these symbolic acts were hard on Ezekiel personally. The most difficult parts of the book are the visions. It is easy to get involved in the details of a vision & lose sight of the main idea being presented. Each vision can be thought of as a panoramic view of a basic truth.

Outline:

I. BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM: THE PREACHER OF JUDGMENT (1-24).

A. Fifth year of the Exile (1-7).

B. Ezekielís commission (1-3).

C. Destruction of Jerusalem foretold (4-7).

D. Sixth year of the Exile (8-19).

E. Ezekielís vision-journey to Jerusalem (8-11).

F. Allegory of the unfaithful wife (16).

G. Seventh year of the Exile (20-23); the sins of Israel & Judah.

II. Ninth year of the Exile (24).

A. As the siege begins, Ezekielís wife dies.

B. Ezekiel is struck dumb.

III. THE SIEGE & DESTRUCTION: PROPHECIES AGAINST THE NATIONS (25-32).

IV. AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM: THE PREACHER OF COMFORT (33-48).

A. Twelfth year of the Exile (33-39; note 32:17; 33:21).

B. The commission renewed (33); word comes that Jerusalem has fallen.

C. The indictment of Israelís shepherds (34).

D. The land to be re-inhabited & the nation revived (36,37).

E. Twenty-fifth year of the Exile (40-48); the vision of the rebuilt temple. Lessons from Ezekiel

Ezekiel illustrates the task of a preacher: to comfort the afflicted & afflict the comfortable. As preachers & teachers of Godís Word, it is not our responsibility to convert everyone, but to proclaim faithfully Godís message (3:17). When we do so, we fulfill our responsibility, whether or not our hearers respond in a positive manner (3:18-21; 33:7-9).

We often want to blame others for our problems. Some blame their environment. The Israelites blamed their ancestors (18:2). The Bible, however, teaches personal responsibility; we cannot blame someone else for our own sins & their consequences (18:3,4,19,20).

Ezekielís passage on false shepherds (34:11-31) is important reading for Godís shepherds (elders) today (1st Peter 5:1-3). The Chief Shepherd is Jesus (John 10:8-11; Hebrews 13:20; 1st Peter 2:25; 5:4).

The vision of the temple (40-48) does not refer to Zerubbabelís or Herodís temple; those structures were not like the one in Ezekiel. Nor do the chapters present a blueprint for a future millennium age; animal sacrifices were still being made at this time (43:18ff.), but they were banished after Jesusí perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10). Rather, this vision is a prophecy of the Christian Age, when Godís people, the church, are Godís dwelling place, or temple (1st Corinthians 3:16). The prophecy refers to Jesusí spiritual sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-15, 23-28) and to the Christianís sacrifice of service (Romans 12:1).



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