SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Ezekiel 33:1 through 48:35
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Ezekiel 37:26-27)
The fall of Jerusalem marked a turning point in the subject, tone, and emphasis of Ezekiel’s messages. Up to chapter 33, the prophet’s primary purpose had been to warn the exiles in Babylon of the soon-coming judgment upon Judah (chapters 1-24) and upon the surrounding heathen nations (chapters 25-32). Once Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, God directed the prophet to change from messages of doom and punishment to messages of comfort and future restoration for Israel. While there are still warnings in these chapters, they are part of a larger emphasis on hope.
The climax of the book comes in chapters 40-48, which describe a future time in which the people of Israel will be fully restored to their God. This restoration will fulfill the promise God made to Abraham: that his descendants would be blessed and would be a blessing (see Genesis 12:1-3). In Ezekiel’s vision of God’s final, perfect kingdom, the restored Temple worship portrayed Israel’s future redemption and restoration in a way both the prophet and the people could understand, and confirmed God’s faithfulness to Israel.
These chapters reveal the sovereignty of God, His fairness, and His good plans for Israel that will be fulfilled one day when God and His people live in a new era of blessing and communion. The book of Ezekiel opens with a vision, and closes with the longest recorded vision in the Old Testament — one that offered the people hope in spite of the depressing realities of the captivity they were enduring.
- In the first nine verses of chapter 33, the prophet was reminded of his call to be a watchman who would warn the people of spiritual dangers. God declared that if Ezekiel failed to fulfill this charge, he would be held accountable for the messages he had been commissioned to proclaim. The chapter continues with a message from the Lord asserting that spiritual life could be gained through turning from wickedness to righteousness. What key Bible doctrines are alluded to in Ezekiel 33:13-16?
- Chapter 34 presents a contrast between the behavior of Israel’s unfaithful shepherds — the civil and religious leaders of Israel — and the behavior of a good shepherd. Verses 2-7 outline the offences of the shepherds of Israel, which included exploiting the common people to feed and clothe themselves. In addition, they had neglected the sick and infirm, failed to search for the lost, and ruled with force and cruelty. As a result, the sheep — the people of Israel — were “scattered upon all the face of the earth” and had become prey. In contrast, what did God promise in verses 11-16 that the true Shepherd would do for the people?
- Military invaders of Ezekiel’s era typically employed a “scorched earth” policy designed to wipe out any future resistance by the conquered nation. Nebuchadnezzar’s lengthy siege of Jerusalem had taken a devastating toll on Judah, and the land was left ravaged and uncultivated. In chapter 36, God indicated through Ezekiel that this severe judgment was because the people had engaged in idolatry and bloodshed (see verse 18). However, Ezekiel also was told to describe a coming restoration that would be truly remarkable. What specific evidences of renewal were promised in verses 8-12?
- After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the people who survived were overcome with hopelessness. They cried in despair, “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost” (Ezekiel 37:11). God responded by giving Ezekiel a striking and visual message of encouragement. Transported by the Spirit to the midst of a valley full of dry bones, Ezekiel was asked the question, “Can these bones live?” When the prophet responded, “O Lord God, thou knowest,” he was told to prophesy to the bones. What happened when he obeyed? Ezekiel 37:7-10
- In Ezekiel 37:15-17, God instructed Ezekiel to take two sticks and write on them names representing the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and Southern Kingdom (Judah). Then Ezekiel was instructed to join the two sticks together to “make them one stick” in his hand. According to verses 19-22, how was he to respond when the people asked him the meaning of this object lesson?
- Ezekiel 38 and 39 are a prophecy against a confederacy of nations, referred to as Gog and Magog, that will attack Israel with the purpose of destroying the Jewish nation. This will draw God’s profound anger; the words “my fury shall come up in my face” in Ezekiel 38:18 describe His wrath when enemy armies set foot in Israel. As a result, the Lord will personally intervene to defeat them. Based on Ezekiel 38:19-22, what are some of the natural elements God will use to overcome the enemy armies in this battle?
- Chapters 40-42 continue the theme of Israel’s eventual restoration, with a focus on Ezekiel’s vision of a rebuilt Temple. This vision took place about 573 B.C., fourteen years after the fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. In the vision, a divinely appointed guide led the prophet through the restored Temple complex. Precise measurements were taken, and Ezekiel was told to record what he saw and declare it to the people of Israel. Why do you think it was important for the people of Ezekiel’s era to hear about a Temple that did not exist at that time?
- After the vivid and detailed description of the Temple complex in the preceding three chapters, in chapter 43 Ezekiel witnessed God’s return by way of the eastern gate. Then Ezekiel was transported to the inner court, where he observed the glory of the Lord fill the Temple, much as had happened at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. Though Ezekiel had witnessed the glory of God twice before, he was so overwhelmed that once again he fell on his face in reverence and awe. Since the departure of God’s glory had signaled the onset of the destruction of the city and Temple, what do you think the return of God’s glory symbolized?
- Chapters 45-46 describe the renewal of worship in the Temple and the offerings, feasts, festivals, and worship ordinances that will one day take place in restored Israel. Many Bible scholars believe that the offerings described in these chapters are commemorations of Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for the sins of mankind — they will be “picture lessons” and reminders to the people of the Messiah’s marvelous saving work. What type of offerings can we bring the Lord in our day to show our gratitude and appreciation for all He has done for us?
- Chapter 47 begins a description of the transformed land of Israel that continues through chapter 48. We read of the great river that flows from the Temple, which begins as a small stream but rapidly increases in size. A description is also given of the land allotments made to the various tribes. The city at the center of the restored nation will be named “The Lord is there,” using God’s proper name. The details found in these chapters portray a land and city very different from the Israel or Jerusalem that previously existed in all of recorded history. What blessings will be enjoyed by those living in restored Israel? Ezekiel 47:8-9, 12, 21-22
Although many of us are not Jewish by birth, Jesus Christ made it possible for each of us to have an eternal possession in a place where God will dwell. What a hope! This homeland will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine, and it will be worth any effort necessary to be there.