Ezekiel [Ĕzēkĭel]—god is strong or the man god strengthens. The son of Buzi, a priest who prophesied to the exiles by the river Chebar, and fourth of “The Greater Prophets” (Ezek. 1:3; 24:24).
Little is known of this man of a priestly family (Ezek. 1:3; 30:1). His father’s name, Buzi, was a Gentile one (Gen. 22:21; Job 32:2, 6). Referring to himself as “a priest,” Ezekiel was akin to Jeremiah who was also a prophet and a priest. Because of his priestly lineage, levitical tendencies appear in his book (Ezek. 40-46), as well as foregleams of the high priestly character of the Messiah (Ezek. 21:25; 45:22). Ezekiel is every inch a churchman, and his strong ecclesiastical characteristics pervade and give tone to his prophecies.
Ezekiel’s call came in his thirtieth year (Ezek. 1:1), in the fifth year and on the fifth day of the month of king Jehoiachin’s captivity (Ezek. 1, 2). With the call to service there came the impartation of the prophetic gift (Ezek. 3:22). The theme of the prophetic message he was commissioned to proclaim was the same as that of Jeremiah, namely, the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem with judgment upon foreign nations. The keynote of his book is: through tribulation into rest. Residing with a company of captives by the river Chebar (Ezek. 1:1; 8:1) he labored as “a prophet of the iron harp.”
With divine authority Ezekiel dispelled illusions, denounced false prophets, declared repentance, restoration and renewal. He was a true shepherd of souls. Dr. Donald Fraser wrote of him: “Like a giant, he wrestled against Jewish degeneracy and Babylonish pride. Remote as we are from his times, we are stirred by his vivid imagination and his power of fervid denunciation and strenuous appeal. Even when the understanding is puzzled, the heart burns inwardly at the recital of Ezekiel’s visions and those burdens which the Lord laid upon his spirit.”
Ezekiel was happy in his home life (Ezek. 8:1). God, however, revealed to him that the desire of his eyes would die of a sudden sickness, which his wife did during the siege of Jerusalem. Although her death was a heavy blow, yet Ezekiel was not allowed to publicly weep or lament her passing. His anguish was to serve as a sign that Jerusalem would be destroyed without wailing or lamentation (Ezek. 24:15-27). After a prophetic ministry lasting for at least twenty-two years, tradition has it that Ezekiel was put to death by his fellow exiles because of his faithfulness and boldness in denouncing them for their idolatry.
Several aspects of the prophet’s life can be applied with profit to ourselves: