“Introduction to Ezekiel,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Ezekiel,” Old Testament Study Guide
The book of Ezekiel contains the visions and prophecies of Ezekiel, whom the Lord called to minister to the Jewish captives in Babylon. This book shows that the Lord is mindful of His people wherever they are. As you study this book, you can learn that God calls prophets as watchmen to warn His children of danger.
Despite being set at a time when Jerusalem was being destroyed, the book of Ezekiel is full of hope. The prophet Ezekiel saw beyond the tragedies of his era to a future time of renewal when the Lord would gather His people, give them “a new heart” and “a new spirit,” and help them live His laws (see Ezekiel 36:21, 24–28). Studying Ezekiel can strengthen your faith in the Lord’s power to transform individuals and nations. You can learn that all who repent of their iniquities will receive God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.
The prophet Ezekiel is the author of the book of Ezekiel. Writing from a first-person perspective, Ezekiel recorded the visions and revelations he received from the Lord. Ezekiel was a priest who was among the Jewish captives carried away to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in approximately 597 B.C. (see Ezekiel 1:3). According to the account in 2 Kings 24:14–16, the Babylonians took captive mostly the chief men of the land at that time. Therefore, it is possible that Ezekiel came from a prominent and influential family (see Bible Dictionary, “Ezekiel”). Ezekiel prophesied and delivered the Lord’s words to the Jewish exiles in Babylon at about the same time that Jeremiah was prophesying in Judah and Daniel was prophesying in the Babylonian court.
The book of Ezekiel was written during Ezekiel’s captivity in Babylon. He prophesied from about 592 B.C. to 570 B.C. (see Bible Dictionary, “Ezekiel”). After being taken captive, Ezekiel settled with other Jews in a place called Tel Abib on the Chebar River (see Ezekiel 1:1–3; Bible Dictionary, “Ezekiel”). It was there that Ezekiel recorded that the heavens were opened to him and he saw the visions of God (see Ezekiel 1:1).
More than once in the book of Ezekiel we read that the Lord compared His prophet to a watchman on a tower (see Ezekiel 3:17; 33:1–9). Through this comparison the Lord emphasized both the responsibility of prophets to warn His people of impending danger and the responsibility of the people to respond to the watchman’s alarm. Additionally, we learn that all of us are responsible for our own actions and will be punished or rewarded based on the choices we make (see Ezekiel 18; 33).
The book of Ezekiel is rich with accounts of visions and prophecies. For example, the Lord showed Ezekiel a vision of the resurrection of the house of Israel, affirming that the Lord’s covenant people would eventually be gathered to the lands of their inheritance (see Ezekiel 37:1–14). The Lord also described the latter-day gathering of Israel by comparing it to the uniting of the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) with the stick of Judah (the Bible) (see Ezekiel 37:15–28). The book of Ezekiel includes a prophecy of a great battle that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Ezekiel 38–39). Additionally, Ezekiel 40–48 contains a description of a temple that will be built in Jerusalem in the latter days.
Ezekiel 1–3. Ezekiel sees the Lord and His glory. He is called as a watchman to the house of Israel to warn, reprove, and call them to repentance.
Ezekiel 4–24. The Lord instructs Ezekiel to use symbols to represent the wickedness of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel prophesies of the Lord’s judgments on Jerusalem and explains why famine, desolation, war, and pestilence will sweep the land of Israel.
Ezekiel 25–32. The Lord commands Ezekiel to declare the wickedness of the nations surrounding Israel and prophesy of their destruction.
Ezekiel 33–48. The Lord reproves the leaders of Israel for being poor shepherds over their people. The Lord will be a true shepherd to Israel. Ezekiel records his vision of Israel’s restoration after the exile and in the latter days. The Lord promises to gather the Israelites from captivity, return them to their promised lands, renew His covenant with them, and reunite the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.