Strange visions and powerful dramas fill the chapters of Ezekiel, bringing God’s messages of condemnation and consolation to the Jews living in exile in Babylon, much of the book falls into two distinct sections: alarming words of divine judgment and encouraging words of hope and restoration. Ezekiel reminds the discouraged captives that their spiritual blindness brought about their captivity, yet his words also assure them that God will restore them to their homeland.
Vivid imagery and object lessons empower Ezekiel's message to the captives. He likens the city of Jerusalem to an adulterous woman who is abused by her sinful partners (Eze 16; 23). He reminds his audience that Babylon is merely a sword in God’s hand, executing God’s judgment (Eze 21). And he compares the hearts of the unrepentant people to a valley of dry bones (Eze 37). Ezekiel also helps bring a balanced perspective to the people’s suffering. Though he describes ruined, desecrated temple (Eze 8-10), he also paints a picture of a glorious, restored temple (Eze 40-43). God’s anger against the wickedness of Judah (Eze 11) is tempered by God’s mercy in restoring Judah to her homeland (Eze 47-48). Ezekiel’s calling as a watchman of judgment (Eze 3) is balanced against his appointment as a watchman of restoration (Eze 33).
Throughout his message, Ezekiel emphasizes again and again God’s declaration that all the things that happen do so in order that the Israelites “may know that I am the Lord.” In everything that God does, whether in grace or in judgment, his aim is to reveal himself – no less today than in Ezekiel’s day.