The priest Ezekiel was among the Judeans that Nebuchadnezzar brought to Babylon in 597 BC. Five years into this exile, God called Ezekiel to go to Israel (both those in Babylon and those back in Judea) and speak my words to them. Ezekiel often brought this message by composing finely polished poetic oracles and speaking (or perhaps singing) them in public. But he also told stories with symbolic meanings, performed symbolic actions, and described extraordinary visions that he had received.
The book of Ezekiel organizes these messages into three main parts: oracles of judgment against Israel, oracles against other nations, and then promises of Israel’s restoration. These divisions are marked by references to the prophet losing and then regaining his ability to speak. A key vision near the beginning describes how God removed his presence from the Jerusalem temple because of Israel’s evil. The oracles against the nations make it clear that though God’s temple was destroyed, no one should conclude that God is not still in control of the world. Those who threaten his people will be defeated in the end. The book’s closing promises confirm that God will renew the hearts of his people and refresh all life on the face of the earth. Ezekiel’s visions fit the ongoing drama of the Bible: a broken world will be healed when the Lord returns to live with his people in a land that has become like the garden of Eden.