Applying Ezekiel to one's own life can be a difficult process. The following chapter-by-chapter breakdown of Ezekiel from The Lutheran Bible Companion helps the reader apply knowledge from the prophet to their own lives.
Through repentance and absolution, He desires to raise us with Christ in newness of life. God calls Ezekiel to witness to all sorts of conditions of men, even though prospects are bleak and the audience is hostile. As the Lord strengthened Ezekiel, He will also strengthen us to proclaim the Gospel. Our life may be one of lamentation, mourning, and woe, but that may be the only way to break through pride and lead us to see how hopeless our natural condition is. If, however, God’s accusing message is ingested, His word of forgiveness in Christ’s atonement will be “as sweet as honey."
Ezekiel’s action prophecies illustrate God’s wrath. The outpouring of His wrath on obstinate unbelievers reminds us that He operates by the same principle in salvation; His Son bore the wrath our sins deserved. His love is costly—a price we could never pay: complete holiness.
The Lord condemns the people. The Law is necessary to the message of salvation. A weak preaching of the Law inevitably sets one up for a deficient or weak understanding of the Gospel. Thanks be to God there is a day of mercy, too, which Ezekiel will proclaim and we may celebrate with joy in Christ, our Savior.
Ezekiel witnesses four “abominations.” Only when people realize the ever-present and insidious depth of their bondage to sin will they feel any need for a Savior. The road to perdition is broad, but God does not fail to place His mark of salvation on all who repent (9:4). . . Thanks be to God; He gives us His Word and Spirit, new hearts, and new lives in His promises of mercy.
Action prophecies show that God’s overarching purpose in judgment is to bring forth repentance and create trust in His salvation. . . We should not think that salvation can come from any other human source, but only from the righteousness of God. By catastrophe, the Lord prepares the way for restoration and salvation. In Christ, the true vine, we can bear much fruit (Jn 15:1–11). If the Lord can restore someone who has fallen as far as Jerusalem, He can restore anyone. His grace is broad enough to cover even your greatest sin. Ezekiel describes how God makes a new creation for you, established through Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.
Verse by verse, God recounts how generations of Israelites compounded their sins. God desired to pour His wrath against them (20:8, 13, 21) but, by His grace, stilled His own hand (20:9, 14, 22). God would have us make repentance a way of life. When difficulties or even disasters enter your life, let them remind you of the need for daily repentance and the refreshing blessings of the Gospel extended to you through Christ. . . Repent of lusts and from spiritual adulteries that mix true devotion with falsehood. Our sins profaned His most glorious temple—the body and life of His Son. Yet the Father quietly gave Him over to death so that we might have life. Thankfully, Jesus cleanses our pain-filled hearts and will wipe away all our tears.
Ezekiel pronounces prophecies against nations surrounding Israel. . . He will call straying people to repentance. Bear His name with repentant joy and sincere faith so that others may know the Lord. When you see someone struggling, pray for him and actively seek his good. Leave vengeance to God, who continues to reach out to people who do not know Him. He desires the salvation of all (1Tm 2:3–4), as He emphasizes to Ezekiel (Ezk 18:23, 32).
His arm is stretching out to oppose His enemies and to reach His people, to save them from themselves. Pride may replace wisdom in our lives. In response to our self-delusion, Jesus humbled Himself by taking up the cross to bear our sin and raise us up from the depths of corruption. Notice God’s gracious promise of Israel’s return from their Babylonian captivity (28:24). He promises to hallow and glorify His people through Christ Jesus (cf Rm 8:18; 1Co 1:30).
Egypt’s influence over the Mediterranean area comes to an end. . . Repent of self-interested religion and call upon the Lord with sincere devotion. Our ultimate reward is in His mercy and the homeland He has promised in Christ. The grave awaits us all. But the One who “spread terror in the land of the living” also holds the keys of death and hell (Rv 1:18). Our champion, the resurrected Lord, will deliver us.
As a watchman for the Lord, Ezekiel carries God’s Word to His people. God’s Word remains effective: God’s Law causes despair in sinful hearts, leading them to repent. Then, God’s Word reaches out with the life-giving power of the Gospel to absolve the sinner and create a new life. Christians, serve the Lord with confidence, knowing that the Good Shepherd is ever vigilant to deliver from evil. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who faithfully provides God’s Word to all generations. . . His powerful Word, through Ezekiel and through Christ, provides comfort to Christians today. “The gates of hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18). Judgment on His enemies is mercy for His people.
Temple symbolism forms the basis for the rest of Ezekiel. Ezekiel begins his temple tour and sees the exacting standards by which God measures man. Because God holds us to His standards, we find ourselves woefully inadequate. Yet God graciously covers our inadequacies with Christ’s blood and makes us partakers of His holiness. . . God’s grace transforms what was dead to bring forth new life. How great is His power! How gentle His kindness toward you.
Read more about Ezekiel in the commentary on chapters 1-20.
Blog post adapted from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament, pages 809-812, copyright © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.