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Studies in Ezekiel

Check out these great ways to study Ezekiel.

1. Ezekiel's call and counseling ministry (2:1-3:27)

How would you describe Ezekiel's ministry as seen through his call?
Some descriptive terms and phrases readily come to mind from simply reading through chapters two and three. His ministry was / is: as a watchman, corrective, enabled by God, full of warning, largely negative, not as a priest, not well-received, protected by the Lord, somewhat glorious, somewhat sweet, to his own people, to a rebellious people,

The Describe-It-Yourself list is a great help.
Scrolling through the list leads to various additional points. Ezekiel's ministry was: biblical (2:9-10), blunt, confrontational, counseling sinners, difficult, about disloyalty, involving endurance, fiery, focused on God's glory, for God, about the future, God-centered, about judgement, necessary, about responsibility, in Hebrew, life saving, more speaking than listening, mostly after Jeremiah's ministry, necessary, not cross-cultural, not diplomatic, not optional, partly successful, prophetic, somewhat antisocial, somewhat hindered, somewhat like Jeremiah's ministry, somewhat other worldly, strongly worded, ultimately glorious, and ultimately about the millennium.

How was Ezekiel's ministry counseling?
Since Ezekiel ministered to his own people in a corrective way, his ministry was biblical counseling. Through the giving of warnings regarding sin and judgment, the ministry that he called for was life saving (3:18-19, 33:5). Obviously this involved much speaking, in contrast to the popular but erroneous listening-centered counseling advocated by Carl Rogers.
    Moreover, the first half of Ezekiel, chapters two through 32, is primarily against sin, but the second half, chapters 33 through 48, is more glorious and hopeful. This order is the same as that in personal counseling. Sin must be confronted before much positive and hopeful teaching can be done. There are glimmers of hope mixed in there and there throughout Ezekiel however, as it should be in counseling as well.

2. The eagles and the vine parable (17:1-21)

How would you describe the parable in Ezekiel 17:1-10?
Some descriptive terms are obvious from the passage itself. It directly says, for instance, that the parable was a riddle (17:2). Ezekiel did not explained the meaning to the people immediately (17:11-12). So it was thought-provoking, attention holding, and full of suspense.
    The questions in verses nine and ten added to the suspense. Since the parable is allegorical, who did the two eagles and the vine represent? Not immediately explaining these things show that a good teacher or counselor's first aim should be to get his students thinking rather than just listening in a superficial way.

Study Bible notes on 17:11-21 are helpful.
Again without yet looking at the Describe-It-Yourself list, we see that the parable was / is: about the king of Babylon and the king of Egypt (the two eagles), against covenant breaking (17:16-18), against foreign alliances, against rebellion (17:11, 20), against King Zedekiah (the vine), about Israel's future, about judgement, and mostly negative.

The Describe-It-Yourself list helps as well.
The D.I.Y. list and a little research leads to various additional thoughts. The parable was / is: about a bad idea, about needless loss, about responsibility, corrective, against disloyalty, about false belief, fitting, for the house of Israel (17:2,11), from God, God-given counsel, in line with 16:34, mainly a warning, necessary, only in Ezekiel, prophetic in form, rich in meaning, sad but just, similar to the analogies in Ezekiel 19:1-14, somewhat like John 15:1-17, somewhat like Judges 9:7-21, somewhat like the Ezekiel 24:1-14 parable, pessimistic, poetic, quite detailed, triangular, and against wrong thinking.

How was this parable counseling?
Since it is often easier to see sin in others than in oneself, a counselor may use a story or an analogy to promote repentance and change. For instance, the prophet Nathan famously used a parable of a lamb to confront David (2 Samuel 12:1-7).
   That said, however, Ezekiel used this parable to confront the rebellious people (17:11) rather than just an individual. There is no evidence that Ezekiel ever directly spoke to Zedekiah like Jeremiah did. Ezekiel was in Babylon with the captives rather than in Jerusalem (1:1). Zedekiah was just a well-known example of rebellion.
   The people needed to accept the just judgment of God through the Babylonians, which Zedekiah did not do. They were to be lowly and humble (17:6) rather than majestic and proud (17:8). It was far better to survive as a lowly vine (17:6) than to be a self-seeking, rebellious one that withers and dies (17:10, 18-21). The people needed to acknowledge that the Babylonian captivity had come upon them because they had been rebellious and unfaithful like their king. They were covenant breakers (17:12) like Zedekiah (17:18-19), but the Lord was faithful (16:60-62). Like God Himself, a good counselor does not allow blame shifting. (This is clearly seen in chapter 18 as well.)

3. The death of Ezekiel's wife (24:15-27)

How would you describe Ezekiel's wife?
The only things that are directly said about her are that she was the desire of Ezekiel's eyes (24:16) and that she died (24:17). This contrasts with the detailed, figurative descriptions of Samaria and Jerusalem as sinful women in chapter 23. Apparently comparatively little was said about the prophet's wife in order to associate her death more clearly with the parallel destruction of the Jerusalem temple (24:21) which happened at about the same time. Both the temple and the wife were beloved but removed.
    As the chart below shows, much more can be said about the death of Ezekiel's wife than about the woman herself.

What are the main points?
As Ezekiel trusted the Lord and accepted the death of his dear wife, the Israelites were to accept the destruction of Jerusalem and their beloved temple. In doing so, they would be repenting of their sin which had lead to the destruction. Their sorrow, like Ezekiel's, was to be deep and personal rather than just superficial. In light of this acceptance and repentance, the tone of the Book changes to a more positive one from 25:1 onward.

How was this grief counseling?
Ezekiel received preventative grief counseling from the Lord by being told what was about to happen and the message that was to give to go with it. He was not commanded to refrain from all grief, however, since that would have been impossible. Rather he was to grieve privately (24:17) in order to better illustrate the deep despondency which would soon come to the entire nation with the temple's destruction. Most importantly, through the parallel happenings, the people were to see that the Lord was in control (24:24, 27), and this, more than anything else, would help them overcome their grief.

Special Thanks!
A new missionary coworker, Robert Martin, was a BIG help in the design and making of this new study. Thanks, Robert!

MAKING YOUR OWN STUDIES -- with Describe-It-Yourself cards

You can make your own Descriptive Bible Studies using Describe-It-Yourself cards. All you need to do is: 1.) decide what passage(s) you wish to study, 2.) decide whom or what you wish to describe, and then 3.) use a DIY card set to help you describe what or whom you chose.

For More Information,
Click Here to Go to the
Descriptive Studies Page

There are Four Describe-It-Yourself Card Sets to choose from. Two sets, (A) and (B), are shorter to save time. In two sets, (A) and (M), all the cards have blank lines for extra thought stimulation. Over half of the cards in the Pro (P) set have blank lines as well. Beaginners may enjoy the simplicity of the Short List (B) set, but those with time for detailed studies may like the Mid List (M) or Pro List (P) sets. Yet, the best set for most users is Short List (A).

4. Son of man, can these bones live? (37:3)

How would you describe this great question?
Some thoughts come to mind quickly without looking at the Describe-It-Yourself list. It was and/or is: addressed to a mere man, answered by God, challenging, about change, difficult, famous, about the future, important, about Israel's future, not about the church, thought-provoking, and unanswerable (my a mere man).

The Describe-It-Yourself list helps us think deeper.
The question was and/or is: about a bad situation, answered through prophecy, closely related to captivity, counseling, against disbelief, far-reaching, figurative, fitting, for Ezekiel and others, about God's power, about having hope, about human weakness, in line with Ezekiel 33:12, about the millenium, more hopeful than Jeremiah 13:23, more national than personal, nationalistic, necessary, about the need for Israel to be restored, not about Ezekiel, not about the church, pointing to the need for God, potentially life-changing, probing, about regathering, about remembering God's promises, about resurrection, rhetorical, somewhat evangelistic, somewhat like the question in Genesis 18:14, somewhat mysterious, suspenseful, sympathetic, and ultimately about Jesus.

How was God's question prophetic counseling?
A Christian counselor may ask a discouraged person a thought-provoking question in order to help change a negative worldview into a more positive future-oriented and biblical one. Likewise God himself asked this probing question. The captive people were in a bad situation, but Israel's future was actually bright. Though the question was about dead bones which could do nothing for themselves, it was also about God's power and resurrection. Moreover, it was ultimately about the Lord Jesus and the future millennial kingdom. The people needed to look beyond the state of the nation, to God's power and promises. We often do as well.

5. The Great River in Ezekiel 47

What should we think of the great river from under the temple?
Some deny that such a spring and river can ever exist on the Temple Mount, since springs are naturally found in valleys rather than on mountain tops. The famous Kenrokuen garden in Japan, however, illustrates how such a spring and river can be very real and beautiful. All that is needed is a higher source. The Higher Source in Ezekiel is, of course, God himself.
   The Kenrokuen Garden's water supply, however, is special but NOT miraculous since it is a man-made siphon from a distant river which has a higher elevation than the garden. Even so, this is a helpful illustration and appears on the first of four pages of message notes. These are in easy-to-use outline form. To access them, simply click on the Kenrokyen photo below.

6. The Prince: a lesser-known future leader

The prince who suddenly appears in Ezekiel chapter 44 is unnamed. Some think this is David because of Ezekiel 37:25, and some even believe this is the Messiah. However, since the prince shall prepare a sin offering for himself and all the people (Ezekiel 45:22), he can not be the Messiah. Moreover, since the prince seems to have physical sons, he probably is not a resurrected saint like David (Ezekiel 46:116-18).
    Parts of the four pages in this study are shown below. For the entire study in printer-ready format click the second link below.

Who then is the prince in Ezekiel chapters 44 through 48? We do not know, but we do know many things about what he shall do as shown on these two worksheets.

Who then is the prince in Ezekiel chapters 44 through 48? We do not know, but we do know many things about what he shall do as shown on these two worksheets.

7. Ezekiel among the prophets

There are ten prophets on the Bible Top 55 list. These are: Moses (#3), Samuel (#16), Jeremiah (#19), John the Baptist (#22), Elisha (#24), Elijah (#27), Ezekiel (#28), Daniel (#35), Balaam (#42), and Isaiah (51). So there is a study on each of these in the Top 55 Booklet.
    Use the various cards of these prophets to study them together. -- First, divide the prophets into various groups: writing / non-writing, etc. Second, put them in chronological order. Third, put the cards face down, mix them up, and have each one in the group say something about each prophet or his message as his card is drawn. This can be done as a game if desired.
    One of unusual things about Ezekiel is the fact that he is only named twice (Ezekiel 1:3, 24:24). God always addressed him as "son of man," and he did not speak about himself by name.

© 2020 by Jon F. Mahar, Hakusan City, Japan