Ezekiel served as a prophet in Babylon from 593-571 BC. The name Ezekiel means ‘God is strong’ or ‘God makes strong.’
God communicated to Ezekiel in visions. A vision is a supernatural revelation of God’s truth and purpose. These visions will appear strange and confusing to the human mind because they are apocalyptic. This means, what Ezekiel saw were symbolic pictures that vividly conveys an idea or message.
Ezekiel was taken captive during the second Babylonian invasion of Judah in 597 BC. The Babylonians invaded Judah a third and final time in 586 BC, completely destroying Jerusalem, burning the temple, and carried away the remainder of the Jews.
The book begins by describing the holiness of God, which the people of Israel had despised and ignored. As a result, God’s presence departed from the temple, the city of Jerusalem and the people. God gave Ezekiel the difficult responsibility of presenting his message to ungrateful and abusive people.
While Jeremiah was prophesying in Jerusalem that the city would soon fall to the Babylonians, Ezekiel was giving the same message to the captives who were already in Babylon. Ezekiel warned them that punishment was certain because of their sins and that God was purifying his people. After the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel delivered messages of future restoration and hope for the people. The nation had to be cleansed through 70 years of captivity.
The Lord told Ezekiel not to be afraid, but to speak His words whether or not the children of Israel would listen. The basic message of the book is that God’s sovereign strength continues and he will judge his enemies and restore his people.
As in Ezekiel’s day, it is easy for individuals today to forget that God has a personal interest in each one of us. We may feel insignificant when we look amongst our families, work colleagues, students, communities and cities at world events. But knowing that God is ultimately in control, that he cares, brings a new sense of purpose to our lives.
God wants believers to tell the Good News ‘in season’ and ‘out of season,’ even when it is inconvenient. How do you measure your worth? Are you valuable because of your achievements and potential, or because God, your creator, declares you valuable? God may not ask you to do anything quite so dramatic or difficult like Ezekiel; but if he did, would you obey?