When Ezekiel’s wife suddenly dies, God tells him not to mourn. This was to be a sign to the people that they should not mourn when their beloved temple is destroyed. God asked Ezekiel to do difficult things in order to warn his people.
A prophecy fulfilled. The city of Tyre was on an island about a half mile from the coast, with some of its people living in villages on the mainland. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre by first destroying those villages and then using the rubble to build a causeway to the island fortress. This fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy that Tyre’s stones, timber, and soil would be cast into the midst of the water (Ezekiel 26:12).
Tyre’s wealth came through its port, where it received goods from all around the Mediterranean—often items other nations did not have access to (Ezekiel 28:1–10). Their pride in their wealth would lead to their destruction.
Hooks in your jaws (Ezekiel 29:4) is a reference to crocodile hunting. Large hooks were baited with pork and cast into the river. When a crocodile bit the baited hook, it was quickly hauled to shore.
A tree cut down. The Assyrians believed that a sacred tree, whose roots were fed by a vast underground ocean, brought life to its nation. When Ezekiel talked about this “tree” being cut down (Ezekiel 31:1–18), he was symbolically describing the end of once-mighty Assyria.
Lions and dragons.
Egypt saw itself as a lion, a nation that hunted and devoured other nations. But Ezekiel compares Egypt to a dragon—a near-sighted crocodile that stirs up muddy waters, attracting attention to itself. Egypt’s boasting will be its downfall, as the Lord sends Babylon to conquer and humiliate it.
The Lord appointed Ezekiel to be a “watchman” over Israel (Ezekiel 33:7). People depended on the watchman not only to remain vigilant but also to sound the alarm if the city was in danger. It was then up to the people to decide whether to heed these warnings or ignore them.
God called his people’s leaders the shepherds of Israel. But instead of protecting and providing for their sheep, they abused them. God promised to judge the shepherds, rescue his sheep, and appoint a shepherd like David (Ezekiel 34:23; compare John 10:11–18).
Israel was called to be a light to the nations (Isa. 42:6), but instead, their sinful behavior “profaned” God’s name before their unbelieving neighbors (Ezek. 36:22–23). The Lord expects his people to bring honor to his name all around the globe.
Although Jerusalem was defeated (Ezekiel 33:21–22), Ezekiel preaches a message of hope in Ezekiel chs. 33–48. In ch. 37, his vision of a valley of dry bones promises that God’s Spirit will restore Israel. This is one of the most famous passages in Ezekiel.
Gog and Magog.
In chs. 38–39, Ezekiel prophesies that a mysterious ruler called Gog from an unknown land called Magog will attack Israel. There are many suggestions about who and what Gog and Magog mean, but no agreement has been reached.
The prophecy in Ezekiel chs. 40–48 is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. But certain points are clear. It looks forward to a time when God will dwell among his people. It also emphasizes his supremacy in all things.
The Lord returns to his temple.
Because of the people’s rebellion, the glory of the Lord departed from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 10:18–22). But later Ezekiel has a vision in which God returns to the temple (Ezekiel 43:1–5), beginning a new era in his relationship with his people. In the NT, the apostle Paul teaches that those who believe in Christ are the “temple” in which God is pleased to dwell (1 Cor. 3:16).
The prince (Ezekiel 44:3) in the visions of restoration is also called God’s servant David (Ezekiel 34:23–24; 37:24–25). This prince will rule over God’s people forever. Jesus’ followers viewed him as this promised ruler (Matt. 1:1; Luke 18:38).
The Passover described by Ezekiel is quite different than the one first observed in Exodus 12. The original Passover was a time to remember how death had passed over the Israelites before their exodus from Egypt. This new Passover emphasizes offerings to atone for sin (Ezekiel 45:21–24).
The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water in the world. Nearly 35 percent salt, it is six times saltier than the ocean and twice as salty the Great Salt Lake in Utah. In Ezekiel’s vision, the water from the temple turned the Dead Sea into fresh water (Ezekiel 47:8). This is a picture of how the Lord Jesus Christ can give life to those who were dead in sin (Eph. 2:1–5).
Changing a person’s name (Daniel 1:7) was a sign of having power over that person. Conquering rulers often did this to their captives as a means of making them more a part of their new culture.
The dreams of a king (Ezekiel 2:1) had significance for his nation as a whole because dreams were thought to be the shadows of future events. If the dreams of a king could be correctly interpreted, then the appropriate actions could be taken to preserve the kingdom.
The book of Daniel was written in both Hebrew (1:1–2:3; 7:1–12:13) and Aramaic (2:4–7:28). In OT times, Aramaic was the language used by several people groups in the Middle East (see 2 Kings 18:26).
A tree represents King Nebuchadnezzar in his dream (Daniel 4:5–27). Trees can symbolize great kingdoms in the Bible. Ezekiel 31:2–9 compares Assyria to a cedar that shelters the nations. Jesus uses a tree to describe God’s kingdom (Mark 4:32).