Ezekiel, whose name means “God strengthens,” was the son of a priest. He was taken from his home in Jerusalem with more than 10,000 other Jews the second time Nebuchadnezzar brought captured Jews to Babylon (597 B.C.)—11 years before Jerusalem was destroyed. Ezekiel settled in his own home in the little town of Tell-Abib beside the river Chebar. After living there in captivity for five years, he was called by God in about 592 B.C. to be a prophet (apparently at the age of thirty; Ezekiel 1:1). He lost his wife five years later (24:16-18).
He labored as a prophet for 22 years, working during the same time as Jeremiah (who stayed in Palestine with the Jews who had not been forced to leave yet) and Daniel (who had only been in Babylon a few years). Habakkuk and Zephaniah were also prophets at the same time as Ezekiel.
Since some of God’s people were now in captivity, and the rest would be there soon, Ezekiel’s preaching was meant (1) to show the reason for their captivity (which was because of their sin), and (2) to offer God’s future blessing. The first half of the book (chapters 1-24) happens before Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. and warns about the judgment of God’s people that was coming soon. After telling how the surrounding nations would also be punished (chapters 25-32), the final chapters (33-48) tell of future restoration and forgiveness for those who repent.
The main way in which judgment and restoration are underscored is by emphasizing the greatness of God. His authority and power over the Universe are repeated over and over in the expression (used over 65 times)—“Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Prophecies of punishment, judgment, and doom
Ezekiel’s calling (1-3); judgment against Judah (4-24); judgment against pagan neighbors—Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt (25-32)
Prophecies of future hope, salvation, and restoration
Israel’s redemption and return (33-39); reconstruction of the Temple (40-48)