Ezekiel was one of the great Israelite prophets. His ministry was during the time of exile in Babylon, a very difficult phase in Israel’s history. In the book of Ezekiel , the prophet warned of the destruction of Jerusalem but also announced the restoration of God’s people.
In Ezekiel’s time, Nebuchadnezzar conquered the kingdom of Judah, forcing the new king to submit to the Babylonian empire. In this invasion, Nebuchadnezzar deported several priests, officers and members of the Jewish nobility to Babylon. Ezequiel, about 25 years old, was one of the exiles. He was from a family of priests but did not have the opportunity to serve in the temple.
See here: who was Nebuchadnezzar?
At the age of 30, Ezekiel had a vision of God’s glory and was called to be a prophet ( Ezekiel 1: 1-3 ). From there, he would prophesy to the people of Israel scattered throughout the Babylonian empire.
At the time when Ezekiel began to prophesy, several false prophets had appeared, announcing the restoration of Israel’s independence soon. However, the message that Ezekiel received was one of condemnation. The Israelites were still in sin, so Jerusalem would be destroyed.
By order of God, Ezekiel made several symbolic gestures to illustrate what was going to happen. For example, he built a miniature of Jerusalem and surrounded it, to show that the city was going to be besieged. Ezekiel also rationed his food, symbolizing the lack of food during the siege. The acts that Ezekiel performed in public were prophetic ( Ezekiel 24:24 ).
One day, God warned Ezekiel that he would lose his wife. That same day Ezekiel’s wife died ( Ezekiel 24: 15-17 ). But Ezekiel did not mourn his beloved. His loss was a sign of a much greater loss that was to come: the destruction of Jerusalem and the death of many Jews. Some time later, the prophecy was fulfilled.
Ezekiel’s life was not easy. Many of his messages were condemning destruction and the people did not want to accept what he said. However, Ezekiel remained faithful and obeyed everything that God told him to do and did not stop preaching to the people. In the end, Ezekiel received hope for a future restoration , in which God would care for his people ( Ezekiel 37: 26-28 ).
The book of Ezekiel
Ezekiel’s book tells about the ministry of the prophet Ezekiel and the visions and prophecies he received.
At first, Ezekiel’s prophecies were almost all judgmental for the Israelites’ sins . The people had turned away from their God, committing terrible sins, and would soon be punished. The temple of God, along with the rest of Jerusalem, would be destroyed and the people would be killed or taken into exile.
Ezekiel also prophesied about other peoples. The Israelites’ neighbors also had their days numbered and would be punished by God.
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But not everything was bleak. Ezekiel’s book also has some of the most inspiring prophecies in the Bible! Ezekiel glimpsed God’s glory and received promises of restoration and resurrection for God’s people. Many would be judged, but in the end God’s people would have peace.