Visions of God

Who was Ezekiel

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Ezekiel, whose name means “God Strengthens,” was the son of Buzi, making him of the priestly line of Zadok (Ezekiel 1:3; 40:46; 44:15). “The theme of Ezekiel is the glory and transcendence of the Lord.” It was important that the Hebrews of Ezekiel’s day understand that it was not heathen forces that defeated them and took them into captivity; these Gentiles were merely God’s instruments of justice for the nation’s failure to keep the covenant she had made with Him. This covenant specified chastisement, specifically exile from the land, until the Jewish people repented as a nation and turned back to God (Leviticus 26). Upon their repentance, God promised to restore and bless them in their land. That same covenant promised that God would preserve the nation from extinction while in captivity.

Ezekiel reminded the Hebrews of God’s promises through the visions God gave him while they were in captivity. A fitting conclusion of this reminder is found in Ezekiel’s final words of his prophecy where he referred to God as Jehovah shammah, meaning, “the Lord is here” (Ezekiel 48:35). In Jewish writings, this name is aptly used for the city of Jerusalem, for this “will be the name, the very character, of the new, restored Jerusalem of the future millennial kingdom on earth,” when the Lord Jesus Christ is seated on the Throne of David in this beloved city. Ezekiel, writing during the same period as Jeremiah and Daniel, was a captive in the city of Babylon at the time of his visions:

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1

Ezekiel had been taken to Babylon along with King Jehoiachin and the other Hebrew captives in 597 bc. (Ezekiel 1:2; 33:21). God gave Ezekiel visions while he was standing on the shore by the river Chebar. This river has been identified as a royal canal of Nebuchadnezzar that flowed from Babylon on past Nippur to Erech. We cannot avoid the obvious connection between Ezekiel’s visions at Chebar and those of John on the island of Patmos. The importance of the books as well as the writers of Ezekiel and Revelation with respect to the latter days of Israel is noteworthy, for both were written in places of isolation during a time of Israel’s oppression by the “present evil world system.” Ezekiel’s ministry began in 582 bc and continued to 570 bc (1:2; 29:17).