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Ezekiel, of whom nothing is known other than what he offers in his book, wrote the book of Ezekiel. He calls himself “the priest, the son of Buzi,” but nothing is known of Buzi either. His wife, whom he loved dearly, died suddenly in the ninth year of Babylonian captivity. No other OT book mentions Ezekiel no NT book quotes him, although Revelation’s imagery seems to allude to Ezekiel’s. The Hebrew Yehezke’l means “God Strengthens.”

While Jeremiah’s began long before and Daniel’s continued long afterward, Ezekiel’s ministry overlapped both prophets’. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in the second wave of captives along with the officers, soldiers, craftsmen and artisans. Some scholars believe his reference to the “thirtieth year” in chapter 1:1 may refer to his own age, meaning he was 25 when exiled to Babylon. At any rate, his latest prophecy dates from 570 or 571 B.C., 27 years later, and it appears that he remained active even after that.

For centuries God used prophets to reprove His people, but it became clear that Israel would never attain God’s objectives unless He took drastic measures. He gave them an opportunity to learn through misfortune the lessons they refused to learn in prosperity. Since the leaders had led the nation into sin, God intended that they be carried away into a temporary captivity, leaving the people to await their return. If the Jews had submitted to Nebuchadnezzar Jerusalem would not have been destroyed. But they did not.

Ezekiel served Judah during the darkest days of its history—the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. When he began prophesying in about 593 B.C., Israel had been non-existent for more than 100 years, King Jehoiachin had been in captivity for five years, and Jerusalem’s destruction loomed on the horizon. The future looked dim. God sent Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel to explain the purpose of the captivity and convince the people to cooperate with it. Ezekiel ministered to those who were already captives. Prior to Jerusalem’s fall, he comforted the captives; after the city’s destruction he attempted to inspire hope in Judah’s restoration. God longed for the Jews to accept His destiny for them. False prophets, apostate leaders and corrupt priests had distorted the Jews’ picture of God’s character and plan for them. Ezekiel attempted to correct their image of Him and motivate them to repent, describing their future glory should they accept the conditions of God’s covenant. But instead of motivating Judah to repentance, the captivity and destruction only thrust the Jews deeper into sin.

Still, Ezekiel’s message is filled with the hope of reconciliation. After enumerating Israel’s and Judah’s sins and pronouncing judgment on surrounding nations, Ezekiel predicts the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple. An interesting feature of Ezekiel’s prophecies is their accurate dating. He dramatized God’s messages with parables and signs, using symbolic actions and unusual conduct to attract the Jews’ attention.

Today, Ezekiel teaches us that we are responsible for only our own sins, and that no matter how far we fall into sin, it is always God’s plan to reconcile and restore us to glory. He calls us to a fresh encounter with our universal God, who is not confined to the land of Israel or Judah. We can still experience His power, knowledge and holiness today.
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