Author: Ezekiel

Date: 600-550 BC


Ezekiel is a very challenging book for several reasons.  The author uses unfamiliar apocalyptic imagery to describe many things.  The historical situation in which Ezekiel wrote is rather complicated and many of the events in the book occur only in visions.  Even Ezekiel's geographical location is puzzling.  Much of the exacting detail in his visions seems unnecessary.


Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet who was taken from Judah to Babylon in the second wave of exiles (597 BC).  His prophecies are very attentive to the Temple, the liturgy and the Sabbath.  He takes the ceremonial commands of the law just as seriously as the moral.  He calls the exiled people to faithfulness to the Lord even though the signs of the Lord's blessing (the land and the Temple) have been taken away.


Ezekiel's visions are categorized as apocalyptic literature.  Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation also contain apocalyptic literature as do several non-canonical books from biblical times.  Apocalyptic literature uses a mixture of complex symbols to talk about catastrophic events in the future.  Each of Ezekiel's visions serves as a window into the spiritual life of Judah and its relationship with God.  He has a vision of heaven (1-3), of idolatry in the Temple and the glory of the Lord leaving the Temple (8-10), of the valley of the dry bones (37), and of the New Temple and the restored land with God's glory returning (40-48).  The lengthy final vision of a restored Israel with all of its precise measurements envisions a nation of God's people living in God's order but its details are open to many interpretations.


Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel performs some dramatic prophetic acts.  These acts serve as visual aids to Ezekiel's prophetic message from the Lord.  Most of Ezekiel's prophetic acts anticipate the Lord's judgment on Judah.  The Lord commands Ezekiel to make miniature models of the imminent siege of Jerusalem and to lie on his side, eating rationed bread (4).  Then the Lord tells Ezekiel to cut his hair and do various things with the clippings as a metaphor for Israel's coming punishment (5).  Later he performs a mock exile from his tent and eats with anxiety to pre-figure the exile of Judah (12).  To symbolize the re-unification of Israel and Judah, Ezekiel ties two sticks together (37).


Scholars debate exactly where Ezekiel was located during his ministry.  Ezekiel seems to be transported by God a few times, but it is not exactly clear if the "transports" are physical or visionary (see 8:3, 11:24, 43:5).  The most likely proposals suggest he was located in Babylon from 597 onward, but had several visions in which he saw events in Judah.


Like the other prophets, Ezekiel has a message of judgment and a message of restoration.  He announces God's judgment against Judah for its sins against the covenant and he pronounces God's judgment against the surrounding nations which oppressed Judah.  When Ezekiel upbraids Judah for its gross infidelity to the Lord, some of the language he uses is so strong that it startles us by its harshness.  Yet Ezekiel does not leave his hearers in a state of condemnation, but invites them to turn away from their sins and take advantage of God's promises and covenant.  Though the Lord uses Ezekiel to chide the people, he also uses him to give hope to his suffering people in a time of exile and persecution.  Ezekiel is a prophet of judgment and a prophet of renewal.


By Mark Giszczak

Ads by Google
(What's this?)


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20

Text only

Follow us: