For many Bible readers, Ezekiel is all about the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-28) and the vision of God’s awesome chariot throne (Ezekiel 1:4-28, 10:1-22). In truth, Ezekiel with its 48 chapters is much more than that.
Ezekiel was not just a prophet, he was also a priest (1:3). Unlike Jeremiah who prophesied while remaining in Jerusalem, Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon where he, together with King Jehoiachin and many others, was resettled after being taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar. God appointed Ezekiel to be the “watchman for the house of Israel” (2:17). He was to speak God’s words to them “whether they listen or fail to listen” (2:7). Let us listen to what God is teaching us through Ezekiel.
The aspect of God which is highlighted the most in Ezekiel is God’s holiness. Ezekiel’s encounter with God in all His majesty riding upon His chariot throne left him overwhelmed and speechless (2:15). This encounter carried him throughout his ministry to be steadfast and faithful. We may not have the same amazing vision of God but we can encounter Him daily as the holy and righteous God by engaging with His word.
God is sovereign
The fact that God appeared to Ezekiel in Babylon and spoke against other nations and leaders (chapters 26 – 32) tells that God is sovereign over the whole world. Even the greatest superpower is under His control.
To speak boldly
Ezekiel was not afraid to speak boldly about the sins of Israel and Jerusalem (12:1-24). We cannot pretend that everything is okay when it is not. When people sin against God it must be made clear to them that they have done so.
Sin invites judgement
The exiles who were in Babylon with Ezekiel were hoping they could return soon to Jerusalem. They did not take seriously the fact that sin invites judgement (4:1-5:17). Then came the terrible news that Jerusalem had fallen (33:21). Ignoring the advice of the prophet Jeremiah, King Zedekiah had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. As a consequence his army had completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. God is serious about sin and God will use whomever He chooses to bring about judgement. This is a lesson well worth learning.
Turn from evil
The intention of God that most stands out in Ezekiel is this: “that the wicked man will turn from his evil ways and save his life” (3:18). God makes it very clear through Ezekiel that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (18:23, 32). There is so much oppression and violence against the innocent and minorities today. How should we pray? That God will use his mighty power to destroy the evil-doers? No! Rather, we should pray that they will repent, leave their wicked ways and protect, not destroy.
Vision of the future
Ezekiel’s later chapters (36-37, 40-48) give both us and the exiles a vision of the future. There is a promise of a new covenant where individuals are given a new heart and new spirit to live after God’s commandments. This came to pass when Jesus established the New Covenant in his blood when He died on the Cross. The promise of a New Jerusalem with the River of Life flowing from its sanctuary has yet to be fulfilled (47:1-12, Revelation 21, 22).
Since we know that our story has an awesome end, we must stay strong and remain steadfast in our faith through all the trials and tribulations of life.