Old Testament Survey - Lesson 31

Ezekiel's Historical Context

The lesson on Ezekiel provides a deep dive into the life and ministry of the prophet, offering insights into his background, psychological interpretation, and prophetic methods. Ezekiel's unique style, characterized by visual and oral rhetoric, serves to convey Yahweh's passion and the certainty of His Word to a hardened audience. Through meticulously structured oracles, Ezekiel delivers messages of both judgment and restoration, emphasizing the eternal promises embedded in the covenant between God and His people. 

Daniel Block
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 31
Watching Now
Ezekiel's Historical Context

I. Background and Context of Ezekiel

A. Introduction to Ezekiel

B. Priestly Lineage and Exile Experience

C. Spiritual Preparedness and Leadership

D. Impact of Vocation on Personal Life

II. Psychological Analysis of Ezekiel

A. Psychoanalytical Interpretations

B. Evaluation of Ezekiel's Mental State

C. Interpretive Challenges

III. Themes and Message of Ezekiel

A. Divine Passion and Covenant Relationship

B. Certainty of God's Word and Promises

C. True Membership in the Community of Faith

IV. Methods of Ezekiel

A. Rhetorical Agenda and Audience Transformation

B. Creative Presentation and Forceful Communication

C. Visual and Oral Strategies

V. Structure and Organization of Ezekiel

A. Autobiographical Nature and First-Person Narrative

B. Careful Organization and Structural Symmetry

C. Broad Outline: Messages of Doom and Hope

1. Part One: Messages of Doom (Chapters 1-24)

2. Part Two: Messages of Hope (Chapters 25-48)

VI. Conclusion: The Eternal Word of Covenant Commitment

  • Learning about the First Testament's language, geographical, and cultural contexts, and how these factors contribute to its frequent misinterpretation and underappreciation in modern times.
  • Gain insights into the literary and cosmic foundations of grace and glory in the Torah, understanding its role as more than law.
  • Learn that to be made in God's image entails embodying divine qualities and functioning as His representative on Earth, which extends a universal dignity upon all humans and shapes a theological ethic that influences how you treat others.
  • Genesis 1-3 frames human response to divine creation, emphasizing human dignity, work's moral role, free will's consequences, and the persistent grace amid sin.
  • This lesson reviews the Israelite covenant, understanding its stages, implications, and its role in God's redemptive plan.
  • Gain insights into Abraham's covenant with God, exploring his faith and God's promises.
  • Learn how the Exodus from Egypt marked Israel's transformation from a family to a nation under Yahweh.
  • Understand how the covenant at Sinai transforms Israel from slaves into a treasured nation destined for a divine mission, fulfilling God's ancient promises.
  • This lesson covers the covenantal expectations at Sinai. The covenantal agreement provided a constitutional and ethical framework for societal living, focusing on community rights and responsibilities.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into how the tabernacle was both a physical manifestation of God's presence and a profound symbol of His grace, emphasizing the holiness and detailed guidance He provided to the Israelites for worship and daily life.
  • Gain insights into Deuteronomy, recognizing its focus on teaching rather than legislation, and understanding Moses' role as an instructor of Yahweh's will.
  • In this lesson, you explore how to interpret the First Testament's historiographic writings, emphasizing the divine inspiration and literary artistry that guide the selective storytelling and theological themes.
  • Learn how the books of Joshua and Judges illustrate the fulfillment and failure of Israel's covenant with Yahweh, highlighting divine promise, cultural assimilation, and the cyclical nature of faith and apostasy.
  • The Book of Ruth, highlights divine providence, social justice, and personal righteousness while exploring the role of Boaz as a pivotal figure in maintaining the lineage of King David.
  • Samuel had a significant yet complex role in Israel's history; judge, priest, prophet, and crucial figure in establishing monarchy.
  • Learn of David's central role in the Bible, understanding his unique portrayal and the extensive attention he receives compared to other figures.
  • Learn about the Davidic covenant's role in shaping biblical history and theology, emphasizing its eternal impact on Israel and beyond.
  • The books of Kings and Chronicles use historical events to underline theological themes, highlighting the role of scribes in documenting Israel’s history.
  • In this lesson on 1 and 2 Kings, review the downfall of Israel through kings' forgetfulness of God's covenants.
  • Learn about Solomon's temple's historical and theological significance, its divine design and purpose, and its role in Israelite worship and communal life.
  • Gain insights into the transformation and resilience of the Judean people during their exile in Babylon from 586-539 BC, exploring their struggles and adaptations in a new socio-political and religious context.
  • Learn about Daniel's exemplary life in Babylon, his integrity, and his prophetic visions, which highlight divine sovereignty and the vindication of the faithful amidst calamities.
  • Review the Persian period's impact on the Jewish diaspora, analyze the Book of Esther's literary and theological significance, and reflect on divine providence and cultural identity.
  • Explore the crucial roles of Ezra and Nehemiah in reconstructing the Jewish community and faith post-exile, understanding their historical significance, source materials, and theological insights.
  • Gain insight into the roles and significance of prophets in ancient Israel, learning about their historical context, and their critical function in guiding and correcting the nation through direct communication from Yahweh.
  • Learn about the lives and ministries of prophets Amos and Hosea, their calls for justice and return to divine covenant amidst Israel's political and spiritual turmoil, through prophetic books that blend personal biography with national prophecy.
  • This lesson reviews Jonah's struggle with divine grace and Micah's advocacy for justice and the messianic hope.
  • In this lesson, you learn how Isaiah's vision portrays the Messiah as king, servant, and conqueror, emphasizing his divine roles and global mission.
  • Learn of the political and social contexts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel's exile, including Babylon's rise, Jerusalem's fall, and the crisis of faith portrayed in Lamentations, emphasizing hope amid despair through God's faithfulness.
  • Learn about Jeremiah's life and prophetic ministry, navigating challenges with kings, themes in the Book of Jeremiah, and profound passages on true religion and a future covenant, offering lessons on prophetic burdens, God's faithfulness, and spiritual transformation.
  • Explore Ezekiel's life as a priest in exile, his bizarre actions, and profound messages revealing Yahweh's passion and eternal promises of judgment and restoration.
  • Learn about Nahum and Joel's prophecies on judgment, hope, and Yahweh's character. Explore the day of the Lord and the expansion of the covenant community.
  • Explore Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah's prophecies. Discover themes of judgment, faith, and restoration in God's plan.
  • Gain insight into Haggai's role in motivating temple rebuilding during the Persian rule. His brief yet impactful ministry fosters hope and action amid community disillusionment, recoginizing God's presence and reign.
  • Gain deep insight into Hebrew poetry: its forms, parallelism, acrostics, and emotional depth. Explore its celebration and lamentation of Yahweh's glory.
  • Gain insight into Psalms which reflect diverse emotions and experiences. Structured into five divisions, attributed to various authors, their interpretation involves understanding Torah context, literary devices, and applying timeless principles to life.
  • Explore biblical wisdom's depth: from practical skill to moral insight, rooted in the fear of Yahweh. It contrasts with secular knowledge, emphasizing God's order and universal application.
  • Engage with Proverbs to unravel its diverse wisdom, from aphorisms to discourses. Understand its practical guidance for righteous living and leadership.
  • Discover the Song of Songs, a rich exploration of love's nature. From its allegorical interpretations to its celebration of covenantal love, it examines human relationships with wisdom and depth.
  • The book of Job offers insights into faith and suffering, exploring theological themes and character dynamics. It emphasizes trust in God amid life's most difficult trials.
  • Uncover Ecclesiastes' profound journey from despair to hope. Koheleth's existential ponderings contrast with the narrator's faith, urging a shift from worldly pursuits to finding fulfillment in God's sovereignty.

This Old Testament Survey course offers a deep exploration of the Old Testament's literary structure, divine covenants, and historical context. Lessons cover the Pentateuch, emphasizing its narrative over legalistic interpretations, and extend through key biblical figures like Abraham and Moses. Topics such as the covenant at Sinai, the concept of imago Dei, and the tabernacle rituals highlight the continuity of God's grace and the ethical implications of divine laws. The course critically addresses common misconceptions, the role of the Torah as instruction, and the portrayal of God’s plan, underscoring the relevance and complexity of these ancient texts.

Dr. Daniel Block 
Old Testament Survey
Ezekiel's Historical Context
Lesson Transcript


Hearing the message of Yahweh's grace and glory in Ezekiel. What do we know about the prophet Ezekiel? Well, all that we know we learn from the collection of prophecies that bears his name. Like many Hebrew names, Ezekiel represents either an affirmation of faith, something like God strengthens, or God toughens, or it's an appeal of faith, may God strengthen, may God toughen.

Though related in meaning to Hezekiah, Yahweh has strengthened. Only one other person in the first testament has this name. He was also a priest, but from an earlier generation, 1 Chronicles 24 16.

In Ezekiel 1 3, Ezekiel is identified more precisely as Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi. His vocational classification, we don't doubt at all. He's a priest, and probably explains why he was included in the deportation in 597 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim and the royal family, and all the nobility from Jerusalem, 10,000 of them to Babylon, including this man.

Although Ezekiel seems not to have assumed priestly responsibilities before his exile, his familiarity with the temple layout, with Orthodox and pagan cult forms, with the spiritual heritage of Israel, specifically Levitical and priestly issues, and his concern for a rebuilt temple, all of this leaves the impression of one thoroughly prepared for spiritual leadership in the tradition of the priesthood. He may have been one of the few in line for priestly ministry who took the calling seriously, though I doubt even at the time of his call whether we could be that positive about him. But his senior contemporary, Jeremiah, another prophet, was also of priestly descent, but not from Jerusalem.

He was from Anathoth up near Shiloh. We know nothing about Ezekiel's family of origin, but we do know that his vocation took a colossal toll on his own marriage. As a sign of what Israel was about to experience, Yahweh took Ezekiel's wife and then forbade the prophet from external expressions of grief.

Chapter 24, 15 to 27, the very end of the first half of the book is a very sad ending, personally, for Ezekiel. Not surprisingly, Ezekiel has been the subject of all kinds of psychoanalytical and even psychiatric studies. While prophets were often known to act and speak erratically for rhetorical purposes, Ezekiel was in a class of his own.

The concentration of so many bizarre features in one individual has no precedent, no parallel. His muteness, lying bound and naked, digging holes in the walls of houses, his emotional paralysis in the face of his wife's death, spiritual travels, images of strange creatures, of eyes and creeping things, hearing voices and sounds of water, his withdrawal symptoms, and even his scatological fascination with feces. Broome concluded that Ezekiel was a true psychotic.

He was capable of great religious insight, but he exhibited a series of diagnostic characteristics, catatonia, narcissistic and masochistic conflict, schizophrenic withdrawal, delusions of grandeur and persecution. In short, according to Broome, he suffered from a paranoiac condition common in many spiritual leaders. Well, while psychoanalysis of the person may explain certain features of the text, the entire enterprise is far too speculative about Ezekiel's past and too conjectural about his emotional and mental state.

It's scarcely convincing. Not only does it disregard the rhetorical function of prophecy to change the thinking and behavior of the audience, but it also fails to recognize that the symptoms of authentic prophetic experience may often be impossible to understand by outsiders, and it may resemble what uninitiated folk diagnose as a fundamental pathology. Compare the cynical evaluation of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2.13. Most seriously, this interpretation, this approach, turns the explicit evidence of the text on its head.

Whereas the pervasive emphasis in the book is on the initiative of Yahweh in controlling the thinking and actions of the prophet, to some of these interpreters, Yahweh becomes a creation of Ezekiel's own brain. That's Halperin in the book, Seeking Ezekiel. We cannot deny the uniqueness of Ezekiel's style of ministry, but to attribute this to a pathology arising from early abuse or an Oedipus complex misconstrues the profundity of his message and the sensitivity of his personality.

Ezekiel's prophetic experiences, symbolic actions, oracular pronouncements, all derived from encounters with God that had affected his entire being. What other prophets spoke of Ezekiel suffered. He was a man totally possessed by the Spirit of Yahweh, called, equipped, and gripped by the hand of God.

Ezekiel was a sign, a portent. 12.6, 12.11, 24, 24, and 27, he carried in his body the oracles he proclaimed and redefined the adage, the medium is the message. Furthermore, he was a profound theologian, exposing the delusions of his audience and reintroducing them to the God of Israel.

What can we say about the message of Ezekiel? Well, first, we declare that Ezekiel was the mouthpiece for God's passion. Although the word kinah, jealousy, passion, appears only ten times in the book, it expresses the underlying motif of his ministry. In the first testament, passion is aroused when a legitimate and wholesome relationship is threatened by interference from a third party.

Thus, the word kinah expresses an entirely appropriate response by a husband or wife when another lover enters the picture. This is Proverbs 6, 32 to 35. Since the marriage metaphor provides the basic image for understanding Yahweh's covenant with Israel in this book, Ezekiel 16, the description of his response to infidelity as passion is both logical and natural.

Indeed, kinah is not merely an attribute of God, it is an epithet, a virtual name. He is the impassioned God. We can scarcely use the word jealousy because in our world, jealousy overlaps with envy.

It's not what we're talking about. This is passion in defense of a legitimate relationship. Yahweh had committed himself to Israel in covenant, a devotion expressed in gracious redemption of the nation from bondage, and he rightfully expected grateful and exclusive loyalty in return.

The intensity of his wrath at threats to this relationship was directly proportional to the depth of his love. It arose out of the profundity of his covenant love. Because he felt so deeply, he had to respond vigorously.

His relationship with his people had been violated, and he must defend it. Ezekiel is the herald of divine passion. But secondly, Ezekiel was also the herald of the certainty of God's Word.

Speaking for Yahweh on numerous occasions, we hear him end a prophecy with, I am Yahweh, I have spoken, I will do it. Now this meant that God keeps his Word, both his promises and his threats. Like many in our own day, Ezekiel's people were preoccupied with the promises of God.

Every promise in the book is mine. And the nearer Nebuchadnezzar's armies came, the more they hung on to God's covenant promises as their immutable bases of security. First, God had promised Abraham and his descendants eternal title to the land of Canaan.

Second, at Sinai, God had entered into a covenant with Israel from which there would be no divorce. This is eternal. Third, God had chosen Zion as his own permanent residence.

And fourth, God had adopted David as his son and promised him eternal title to the throne of Israel. Four promises, every one of them is mine, and God will stand up for them all. Ezekiel's overriding purpose was to transform his audience's perception of their relationship with Yahweh, to expose the delusions of innocence, and to offer a divine understanding of the truth, reality, not the delusions of the people.

His pursuit of this goal divides into two discreet parts. Separated by the announcement of the messenger from Jerusalem, the city has fallen, 3321. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel's prophecies consisted of negative pronouncements of judgment upon his people for their infidelity to him and the covenant, to God and the covenant.

Contrary to prevailing opinion in his day, the people of Judah had no reason to hope in Yahweh's rescue. Ezekiel communicated this message in chapters 4 to 24 by systematically attacking those four pillars on which official orthodoxy constructed its notions of their doctrine of eternal security. If Judah will be destroyed, and she will, it will not happen because God has reneged on his covenant commitment.

Because they have been unfaithful to him, the deity-nation-land relationship must be ruptured. He will abandon his temple and send his people into exile in a foreign land. It has to happen.

But after 586, the tone and emphasis of Ezekiel's prophecies change. Once the old illusions of spirituality had been destroyed, he could look forward to a new day when the tripartite association of divinity, people, and land could be restored, and all three parties would experience covenant shalom. In the process, Ezekiel affirmed that official orthodoxy had indeed been based on a germ of truth.

Yahweh's covenant promises are eternal, but the earlier problem had not been the veracity of the divine word, but the people's illegitimate appropriation of that word, especially those who failed to keep the terms of the agreement. Accordingly, in his vision of the new day, Ezekiel offered hope by systematically reconstructing the pillars on which the nation's security had been based in the first place, and that he had demolished in the judgment oracles. In both, in the judgment and the restoration, the word of Yahweh is performed, not only the immediate word, whose fulfillment would confirm Ezekiel's status as a true prophet, but especially in the ancient words declared in the act of redemption from Egypt and Mount Sinai and the plains of Moab in the covenant.

Ezekiel was a herald of that message of judgment and ultimate renewal that is God's word. Third, Ezekiel was a herald of what it means to be the people of God. As it would be in the days of Jesus and Paul, merely claiming descent from Abraham was not enough.

Living in the land God gave to them was not enough. Having David as one's king was not enough, and having the temple, the symbol of God's presence in Jerusalem, that was not enough. These were not good luck charms.

True membership in the community of faith comes through a divine heart transplant and is evidenced in a transformed life, a transformation that is proved by exclusive devotion to Yahweh, high ethical behavior, and compassionate treatment of one's family and one's neighbors, and especially those who are the marginalized of society. These were three of the many different messages that Ezekiel proclaimed. But let's take a quick look at the methods of Ezekiel.

This is what he is known for. Ezekiel's rhetorical agenda is clear. To transform his audiences, that is the exiles' perception of their relationship with Yahweh, and ultimately to change their behavior.

But how did he seek to get that message across? The fact that the prophet is portrayed almost like a puppet with Yahweh pulling all the strings might lead one to expect a bland and routine answer to this question, how did he try to get his message across? But the opposite is the case. In my view, no other prophet is so creative in his presentation of his message, and none is as forceful. The rhetorical strategies reflected in this collection are both visual and oral, all designed to penetrate the hardened minds of his hearers.

We could discuss specifically the genre of his prophecies as we encounter each type or genre, but for the moment we may identify four major categories of accounts reflecting the four major sections of the book. We have, first of all, the prophetic call narrative involving an inaugural vision, a verbal commissioning, and a physical binding, 1 1 2 3 27. Then we have pronouncements of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, 4 1 2 24 27.

There will be one more in 33 1 2 34. Then we have oracles against foreign nations, 25 1 to 32 32. And finally, announcements of salvation and restoration.

There are seeds of this hope in earlier oracles, but they tend to be concentrated in chapters 34 through 48. Ezekiel's judgment speeches come in various forms. We've got legal addresses, disputations where he's arguing logically with people who have proposed their own thesis that he has to debunk and replace.

He uses figurative addresses, laments, funeral dirges as in chapter 19 for the dynasty of Israel, in 27 for the grand ship Tyre, and in 32 over Egypt, the crocodile of the Nile. There are these laments. There are woe oracles.

Oy vey, doom is coming to you. There are other miscellaneous forms, and we are especially impressed by his sign acts. He performs all kinds of fascinating, sometimes absurd and unexpected acts in order to get his message across, to invite the people to interpret what he is doing, and sometimes he leaves the interpretation for later.

He lets them stew, but in the end, we know that no matter how the people interpret these prophecies, whether they are verbal or whether they are visual, in the end, the meaning of the prophecy is determined by the one who inspires the prophecy. Only the author can define the intent. Then we have salvation speeches of various subtypes.

There are straightforward announcements of, I will restore you. I will bring you back. There are figurative addresses.

One of my favorites is chapter 34. The Lord is cast as the good shepherd, and in 36 again, you've got the heart transplant text, that figurative addresses. We have visions, especially chapter 37.

The vision of the dry bones being resuscitated and coming to life as a vast army, and then of course, we've got literary cartoons. This is how I interpret the Gog and Magog oracles in 38 to 39. But Ezekiel was not bound to traditional forms of these genres.

He displayed great creativity in modifying ideal forms and then combining elements from several individual prophecies. But we have to remember, with every oracle it begins with, the word of the Lord came to me saying. So that what we attribute to Ezekiel, ultimately we have to attribute to God.

He is controlling this man's actions and speech. But also contributing to the force of Ezekiel's prophecies was his evocative use of language. Yahweh warned him at the outset that he would be dealing with a hardened audience, so he pulled no punches in trying to break down that resistance.

The abhorrence with which he viewed syncretistic ways of his country folk is reflected in the strong sexual and fecal language which translators tend to soften to accommodate the sensitivities of modern readers. But when we're doing true translation, reading it in the target language should evoke the same response as it had in the original language. Elsewhere we see his heightened emotions reflected in incomplete sentences, strange constructions, and grammatical infelicities.

Chapter one is a mess from a stylistic point of view, but that's part of the message. The world is a mess, and Ezekiel at that point is in a very excited state. His verbal and performed diction is often intentionally shocking to wake his audience up to the reality of their state.

Look at chapter 4 and chapter 12. Frequently he exploits the rhetorical power of ambiguity, inviting his audience to interpret a message as they desire, usually positively, but then turning the image on its head and exposing the delusions of his hearers, 21 and 24. Ezekiel also demonstrates great creativity in playing with individual words and phrases, often shifting their nuances within one paragraph or sentence.

For instance, in chapter 37 verses 1 to 14, the dry bones text, the word ruach, spirit, wind, breath, is used in four different senses in that singular text. When dealing with cultural issues, especially in his oracles against foreign nations and rulers, he takes special care to imbue the oracle with local coloring so that the king of Tyre in chapter 8 actually looks like the king of Tyre, the historical character, or the allegory of the ship of Tyre in chapter 27, or Canaanite mythological motifs in chapter 28. And when he speaks of the pharaoh, he calls him the monster, the kraken of the Nile, and especially impressively in chapter 30, 20 to 26, he speaks over and over again in this short seven verse text.

He over and over again, he mentions the hand of Pharaoh, the arm of Pharaoh, I will break it. And of course, this is reflecting the predominant portrayal of the pharaohs of Egypt in their art forms, in their sculptures, as holding the victim in one hand and with a club with the other arm raised and a club in his hand about to beat up the person that has just been conquered. God says, I'm going to break Pharaoh's arm.

That which he has been doing to other people will become his fate. Even if the book of Ezekiel contains little evidence of any positive response to the prophet's ministry, at least his audience recognized in him a masterful performer. In chapter 33, verses 30 to 33, when all was said and done, the people who came to him for entertainment, they didn't care about his message, but when all these events happened, they would have to admit that a true prophet had been among them.

There's one other feature of this book that is distinctive, and that is its autobiographical character. Since virtually all of Ezekiel's oracles are cast in the first person, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, readers are left with the impression that they have gained access to the private memoirs of a holy man, a prophet of Israel. Only once in the editorial note in 1, 2 to 3 is this I form abandoned in favor of the third person.

Everywhere else, or elsewhere, the prophet is named only in 2424, but in the context of a divine speech that has itself been introduced by the first person. This contrasts with other prophets who rarely use the first person. We have it once or twice in Amos 7 and Amos 8, in Hosea 3, Isaiah 6, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.

But even Jeremiah, the most transparent of all prophets, uses the form sparingly. Ironically, although the oracles are presented in autobiographical narrative style, occasions when the prophet actually admits the reader into his mind are quite rare. Only six times in 48 chapters does he express his reaction or vent revulsion at what he sees or acknowledge the incomprehensibility of the Lord's actions.

Elsewhere, even his responses to popular sayings are drafted as divine oracles. Son of man, have you heard what they're saying about you? And then God quotes what they are saying. Surely he had heard this himself.

Although the exiled prophet must have heard the chatter of the people, Yahweh repeatedly reminded him of what they were seeing and even of their reactions to his performed sign acts. Only rarely did Ezekiel report his compliance. He doesn't even say, this is what I did.

Twice he says, I did as I was told. But in spite of the autobiographic form, we wonder if the real Ezekiel is ever exposed. What we see is a man totally under the control of the Spirit of Yahweh.

Only what God says and does matters. When we look at the book of Ezekiel, we are faced with something quite remarkable. No other prophetic book exhibits such careful organization and structure.

In a book that consists of 48 chapters, now the chapter divisions weren't early. They happened late in 1400, 1500 AD, after the birth of Christ. They're late.

The chapter divisions are late, but with our chapter divisions in the book of Ezekiel, the first half, chapters 1 to 24, is matched in number of chapters exactly with the second half, which also has 24 chapters. That leads us to 48 total. But this kind of pattern of structuring extends to individual oracles as well.

Take the Gog oracle in chapters 39, 38, and 39. After the introduction of 38 verses 1 to 2, in panel A, you have the defeat of God. This is chapter 38.

Four frames in this literary cartoon, 365 words. I counted them. In panel B, chapter 39, you have four frames, again, 357 words.

That's very close by word count. Four frames in the first half, four frames in the second, and each of these then ends with an interpretive conclusion. These are not balanced, but it is remarkable planning at this point.

When we look at the book as a whole, as a broad outline, we recognize two parts. Part one, messages of doom and gloom for Judah and Israel. That's chapters 1 through 24.

I call this the bad news. It is bad news for Judah and Israel and Jerusalem. You have in this three parts, the call of Ezekiel to prophetic ministry, 1 to 327, then signs and visions of woe for Israel and Judah, 4-1 to 1125, and then a collection of judgment oracles, not signs and visions anymore, but judgments oracles against Israel, 12-1 to 24.

That is, these are the first 24 chapters. Then in chapter 2, in part 2, the second half of the book, this divides into two big parts with a transitional chapter in between. Chapters 25 to 32, we have the overall heading of this part 2 of the book is, Messages of Hope and Restoration for Judah and Israel, 25 to 48, the chapter numbers.

In the first part, 25 to 32, negative messages of hope, the oracles against foreign nations. I call this section the bad good news. It is bad news for the nations, but this is good news for Judah and for Israel.

We see the agenda that God has in these oracles against the nation at the very midpoint, the fulcrum, 28-26. When God is done with the nations, then Israel will be restored. Then chapter 33 marks the end of an era.

This is the narrative. This includes the narrative of the person, the fugitive coming from Jerusalem and saying, The city has fallen. Now the attention can really be turned on the future and Israel's hopeful future.

And what happens then in chapters 34, 1 to 48 is the good good news, or we should actually say the super good news, positive messages of hope for Israel. This is indeed the gospel according to Ezekiel. It consists of two parts, proclaiming the good news, stand by and see the salvation of Yahweh, chapters 34 to 39, and then the second part, envisioning the good news, stand by and see the return of Yahweh.

This is chapter 40 through 48. This is the blessed gospel of Ezekiel. Everything will turn out in the end in Israel's favor.

Why? I am Yahweh, I have spoken. Built into the covenant are promises of blessing for faithfulness and warnings of curses for unfaithfulness. That's the judgment.

But also built into the covenant, the end of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30, built into the covenant is that judgment is not the last word. God does not go back on His word. He does not retract His promises.

In fact, all the words of covenant commitment are eternal to the glory and praise of the name of God Himself, a very prominent theme in the book of Ezekiel.