The Structure and Purpose of the Book of Ezekiel
Pastor James Park’s sermon from Shiloh's Lord’s Day Service on February 10, 2019
The Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel can be divided into three sections. The first section consists of warnings of “judgment and destruction” which took place before the temple was destroyed in the 3rd captivity between 593-586 BC. Thus, Ezekiel prophesied and forewarned the people of destruction and judgment for a total of 8 years prior to the temple being destroyed (Ezekiel 1 through 31). The second section consists of Israel’s “restoration” (Ezekiel 32-48). As a reference, Jeremiah speaks of Israel’s return home after 70 years of captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12). The third section coincides with Israel’s restoration and speaks of the “vision” of the last temple, the Ezekiel temple (Ezekiel 40-48).
The warning of destruction and judgment
God told Ezekiel that He would judge the people if they did not repent. There were different characteristics about these judgments that God warned the people through His prophet Ezekiel. The first characteristic was “unprecedented destruction and judgment” (Ezek 5:9-10). The second characteristic was the “scattering of the people” amongst the nations (Ezek 22:15-16). The third characteristic was “judgment on King Zedekiah” (2 Kgs 25:7). In this third characteristic, Zedekiah is taken captive and his sons are killed in front of him and his own eyes are gouged out so that he is unable to see the land of his captivity. King Zedekiah was the last king who ruled from 597 BC to 586 BC until the destruction of the temple (Ezek 12:13)
The sins of Israel
Destruction and judgment came upon God’s people because of idolatry, harlotry, and adultery. They also forgot God and cast Him behind their backs. They also committed the sins of “pride” meaning that they trusted in their beauty and their fame (Ezek 6:9; 7:10, 20). Instead of trusting only in God, they trusted in their own outward strength and appearance and fame. God is the source of our prosperity and success and He blesses our lives and family. Therefore, they had forsaken God and made for themselves broken cisterns that cannot hold water (Jer 2:13). The people were married to God but committed adultery and harlotry with other nations and idols, and grieved God. Because of these sins, God cast them out of their land. Although God warned the people, they did not heed those warnings. Today, we must recognize our Father God through worship, tithing and offering. We must recognize that Jesus Christ is our Lord and evangelize.
In the Book of Ezekiel, God speaks of the “valley of dry bones” where He opened the graves and breathed into them the “breath of life” and they came to life and became an exceedingly great army (Ezek 37:1-10). This is speaking of the people in captivity who are like “dry bones,” meaning dead and no life. However, God promises that He would open up the graves and they will resurrect again, full of life and become a great army. This is the promise of restoration; not only for the people of Israel but for those of us living in the end time. Today, the “dry bones” in our lives can be prolonged pain and grief, financial problems, health issues, marriage problems, etc. However, today God is saying that He will resurrect and raise us up again through the breath of God, the Word of God. I pray that we will become an exceedingly great army to be co-workers with our God in the end time.
The location of Ezekiel’s temple is centered in the land of Canaan. It is set apart and broken down into three different sections and the measurements are 25,000 cubits (Ezek 45:1). The first upper section measures 10,000 cubits and is the land allotted for the Levites. The second or middle section also measures 10,000 cubits and is the land allotted for the priest. The bottom section measures 5,000 cubits and is reserved for common use (Ezek 45:3-6). Within the city, the name of the Lord is there (Ezek 48:35). This is referring to the New Jerusalem, the new city that God will establish in which God Himself will dwell (Rev 21:13-15). It is here that Ezekiel's temple is centered. Through Ezekiel’s temple, God is proclaiming the message of Jehovah-shammah, meaning the “Lord is there” (Ezek 48:35). Secondly, God is going to establish an eternal covenant with His people and set His sanctuary in their midst and make His dwelling place amongst us forever (Ezek 37:26-28). God will remove the hearts of stone from His people and put in a new heart of flesh, give them a new spirit and dwell with His people forever, “Immanuel.” This is the eternal kingdom of God through the allotment of land, the temple, and the city. God gave the vision of the temple of Ezekiel for the purpose of shaming the people, which is the perfect temple that God will establish. Thus, when we are in the presence of something that is perfect and beautiful, we are shamed and we acknowledge our sins (Ezek 43:10).
Conclusion: We have to be holy because our God is holy (Lev 11:44-45). In the original Hebrew language, God says, “I am Holy, and I’ve already declared you holy, so be holy.” God is proclaiming that we are already clean because of the Word that He has spoken (John 15:1-17). God credited Abraham as “righteous,” so by faith we need to live holy lives (Heb 12:14). We cannot become holy by our own strength. Therefore, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to transform us through the Word of God. Through the book of Ezekiel, God is showing us that even though we’ve been destroyed and stricken, God promises that He would restore us. So let us resurrect and return back to God and become one family and give Him all the glory, honor and praise!