Ezekiel was a priest who served and prophesied during the Babylonian Exile. He was captured and transported to Babylon during Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion of Israel.
Ezekiel 1, By the Chebar Canal
The first part of Ezekiel takes place during the interval between the first and second Babylonian invasions of Israel. The prophecy begins with the appearance of God riding in a mysterious vehicle with four cherubs. It is here that Ezekiel is called to be a prophet.
Ezekiel 4,5 An Iron Griddle
Ezekiel performs an elaborate pantomime showing the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The iron griddle between his face and the model city shows God hardening Himself to their prayers. Chapter 5 also explains why God's attitude is just and necessary.
Ezekiel 6,7 Pride Has Budded
Israel was deep into idol worship. They had become more corrupt that even the pagan nations around them. God's message was that their iniquity had become ripe and their doom was coming.
Ezekiel 8-9 Vision of the Temple
Ezekiel's vision occurs over a year after the first. In the spirit he is taken to Jerusalem where he is shown all of the abominations of the remnant left after Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion. In this vision, God appoints a scribe to mark those who are faithful to Him and then sends six destroyers into the city to kill everyone else. God makes it very clear that this destruction is measure for measure in response to the violence and injustice they have allowed to flourish in the city.
Ezekiel 10-11 The New Covenant
In Chapter 10 Ezekiel witnesses the Glory of the Lord depart from Jerusalem in the same heavenly 'chariot' that he saw in chapter 1. Chapter 11 concludes with the New Covenant expressed with the metaphor of removing a heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 12,13 Whitewashed Walls
Metaphorically God had been a wall protecting His people. When Israel became idolatrous, they breached that wall. False prophets had arisen who, instead of repairing the wall by calling the nation back to God, had plastered over the breaches. This plaster made the 'wall' appear solid and reliable, but when it was tested, the wall would fail.
Ezekiel 14,15 Noah, Daniel and Job
The Ezekiel speaks against the elders of Israel who worship idols and yet come to inquire of the prophet. He says that God will deceive false prophets and will not speak clearly to the idolatrous. He also says that Jerusalem's sin is so severe that if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they would only be able to deliver themselves. Everyone else would perish.
Ezekiel 16, The Young Bride
This is a lament by God over His faithless bride, Jerusalem. The metaphor here is of a young attractive bride and a stable but older husband. She craves excitement and variety where He provides stability, respectability and wealth. As the metaphor continues, she ages and finally reaches the point where she must hire her lovers.
Ezekiel 17,18 Sour Grapes
After the parable of eagles, cedar trees and vines in chapter 17, God goes on to correct a misunderstanding among the exiles. They had a proverb to the effect that their current sad situation was a result of the sins of their fathers. God assures them that He is just and sets consequences appropriate to the behavior of each one. He says that the wicked shall perish for their own sins and that those who repent will be spared.
Ezekiel 19-20 I Will Not Be Inquired of by You
Following a lamentation over Israel in Chapter 19, Chapter 20 finds the elders of Israel in exile coming to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. God tells them that they have not been faithful to the covenant and that He has no intention of giving them anything beyond the message to repent. Even in exile Israel still desires to be like all the other nations, a thing God says will never happen.
Ezekiel 20, 21 Face to Face
In chapter 20 God promises to gather all Israel into the wilderness where he will meet them face to face. The sobering part of this text is that, just as in the 40 years wilderness journey, not everyone will make it into the land. In 21 he describes the arrival of the Babylonians who will destroy Jerusalem.