Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes on Ezekiel, 2: Outline, Organization, Main Themes


I. Proclaiming judgment against Judah, chs 1-24

II. Proclaiming judgment against the nations, chs 25-32

III. Proclaiming restoration for Israel, chs 33-48


The book is organized chronologically, beginning in the fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin (593 BC). The last dated prophecy (571 BC), and the only one out of chronological order, is found in ch 29:17ff. This seems to have been connected thematically to the context, accounting for the date out of order. The vision of the new temple, chs 40-48, concludes the book, being dated to 573 BC. The material from the first 24 chapters all date from the period 593-588 BC. The oracles of judgment on the nations date from 587-571 BC. The prophecies of restoration date from 585-573 BC.

Thematically, the book is organized around Ezekiel’s three visions of the glory of the Lord. The first of these visions is the account of his call to the prophetic office in chs 1-3, in which the glory of the Lord appears to him among the exiles in Mesopotamia. The second vision, chs 8-11, recounts the gross idolatry of Israel, and the moving of the glory of the Lord out of the temple and out of the city of Jerusalem, leaving it unprotected and open to the coming attack by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. The final vision, concluding the promises of restoration, shows the glory of the Lord settling in the new temple, in a restored land, in a renewed city

Main Themes:

Chapter 36:16-32 is a key passage for the book as a whole. In this passage the primary themes of the book appear all together. The first theme is the holiness and transcendence of God, demonstrated by the overwhelming appearance of the glory of the Lord, and the repeated emphasis on God’s concern for his holiness.

The second theme is the sinfulness of the people, and the consequent inevitability of judgment. Obviously, this is presented in terse, summary form in chapter 36, but it takes up the whole of the first half of the book.

The third primary theme is that of God’s gracious restoration. While summarized in 36:22ff, it takes up almost the entirety of the last third of the book.

Additional Bibliographical Note:

When posting the other day, I forgot to mention the exposition of Ezekiel by Patrick Fairbairn, which is still useful. In addition, the section on Ezekiel in O. P. Robertson’s The Christ of the Prophets is probably the best short theological summary in print.

No comments: