Ezekiel could be called one of the most visionary prophets. God showed him spiritual insights that still stir the imagination 25 centuries later. Like other prophets, Ezekiel’s ministry among his people had two distinct phases: condemnation and consolation.
The first 32 chapters of Ezekiel catalog the sure and future judgment of God on His own people and seven other nations. Incredibly, although Jerusalem had been defeated and many of her people had been deported, the exiles clung to the vain hope that God would never let His city and temple be destroyed. They missed the point that God’s ultimate commitment was to people – not places or buildings. In order to purify and preserve the people, God allowed the devastation of the Promised Land and the temple itself. Yet God also held responsible those nations that used their temporary domination of Israel as an opportunity to mock the living God. Ezekiel’s early messages focuses on the coming of God’s judgment and the urgent need for repentance.
The last part of Ezekiel represents a sudden change of tone. With the fall of Jerusalem, God’s terrible judgment had finally come. The weary and disillusioned exiles had lost all hope. But God filled Ezekiel with a new message. Although all immediate evidence pointed to hopelessness and despair, God invited His people to return to Him and to place their confidence in Him. Whatever their temporary setbacks and suffering, God was still in control. His purposes would win out, and His plans were specific. In fact, His plans were so definite they could be measured. Ezekiel received a vision of the dimensions of a new temple (recorded in 40:1-48:35) to demonstrate that fact.
Many efforts have been made to understand the details of Ezekiel’s vision in such a way that the prophecy might be described as fulfilled. However, attempts to do this have failed. Those who eventually returned from exile did not use Ezekiel’s plans to rebuild Jerusalem. It is also difficult to interpret this prophecy as a symbolic description of the church in our age. The most confident statement we can make about the vision and its accompanying instructions is that it is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. At the same time, we can apply these chapters to the present as examples of God’s planning, precision, and sovereignty. He maintains control of the events of history. When events seem chaotic, God reminds us to rest in His ability to bring order. Ezekiel’s vision of a new temple when the temple in Jerusalem had just been destroyed reassured the exiles: God would create beauty out of ashes. The people in Ezekiel’s day needed that vision of hope, and we still need it today.
Source: Bible Commentary – Thomas Nelson Bible