The author of this book, Ezekiel, was a Jewish priest and a prophet who was exiled in Babylon. He ministered during the darkest days of Judah’s history: the seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity.
The fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile were used by God to correct the sins of the people and draw them back from their sinful way of life. Ezekiel warned them that not only was the nation responsible for sin, but each individual was also accountable to God.
Although he was a priest and prophet, he served as a Jewish “street preacher” in Babylon for twenty-two years. There he warned everyone about God’s judgment and called them to repentance and obedience.
Ezekiel is a book of visions, poems, parables, and comic street theater. However, to get the people’s attention, God uses more than Ezekiel’s vivid images and symbolic actions.
If “thirtieth year” in chapter 1, verse 1, refers to Ezekiel’s age, he was twenty-five years old when he was taken to Babylon and thirty when he received his prophetic commission (1:2-3). This means that he was about seventeen when Daniel was deported in 605 B.C., and they would have been about the same age.
Ezekiel was a younger contemporary of Jeremiah. While Jeremiah ministered to the people still in Judah, Ezekiel prophesied to those already exiled in Babylon after the defeat of Jehoiachin. While Jeremiah delivered a chilling message of destruction in Jerusalem, Ezekiel brought a warming message of reconstruction in Babylon.
Jeremiah was a man of tears while Ezekiel was a man of visions. Those visions stretched from horror to hope: from condemnation upon Judah’s faithless leaders and godless foes to consolation regarding Judah’s future.
Ezekiel’s twofold theme was condemnation (1-32) and consolation (33-48). He surveyed the sins that were bringing God’s judgment and exposed the foolishness of their false hopes of an early return to the homeland. He then comforted them by assuring them of God’s covenant promise of future blessing and complete restoration.