Ezekiel Chapters 33, 34, 35, and 36 —Outline and Notes
1 Context Overview
Chapters 33,34,35 and 36 of Ezekiel are outlined and analysed. These messages from God contain the certain hope of restoration after the fall. God is fair, and his word is true. The restoration is not for the sake of the Israelites who defiled their inheritance. God acts for the sake of his reputation. He will restore his name among the nations.
For much of their history the Israelites practised idolatry and all the immorality and wickedness that went with it. They "played the harlot" as God put it. They were unfaithful to the LORD. Even when they worshiped him their hearts were far from him.
God finally gave the Israelites over to punishment at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the mighty king of Babylon and Chaldea. He was helped by others including the Edomites. But the Edomites acted from hatred and greed hoping to gain from Israel”s fall. God punished them with the same desolation.
2 Outline of Ezekiel 33
Ezekiel Watchman for Israel
When the watchman warns, those who hear must respond, otherwise they are responsible for the harm and loss of life they suffer (Ezekiel 33:1-5).
When the watchman fails to sound the warning, he is responsible for the harm and loss of life others suffer as a result (Ezekiel 33:6).
If Ezekiel does not warn sinners to turn from their evil ways, he will will be held accountable and surely die. However, if he speaks the warning but people won't listen, then Ezekiel will live whilst they will be held accountable to God (Ezekiel 33:7-9).
The Watchman’s Message
The house of Israel is now asking how they can live when their sins are heavy upon them. God replies, 'Turn! Turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'(Ezekiel 33:10-11).
God restates the principle that he observes. The wicked man who turns from his evil ways will live, and he will not be condemned for the evil he forsook. The righteous man who turns to evil ways will die, and he'll have no claim to the righteousness he abandoned (Ezekiel 33:12-16).
God reasserts that his way is just, against those who claim the way of the LORD is not fair (Ezekiel 33:17-20).
The Fugitive Arrives: "The city has been taken!"
12th YEAR (Ezekiel 33:21).
Previously God told Ezekiel that a fugitive from Jerusalem would bring him word when the city had fallen (Ezekiel 24:26). At the fugitive's arrival, Ezekiel was able to prophesy again; he was no longer mute (Ezekiel 33:21-22).
Among the ruins, Israelites are claiming that they should not have lost possession of the land. God says their wickedness has taken away their right to possession.(Ezekiel 33:23-26).
God speaks of the further killing and desolation until the ruin is complete (Ezekiel 33:27-29).
To encourage Ezekiel, God tells him that people still around Jerusalem are talking about him and receiving his messages (Ezekiel 33:30).
But there is, sadly, much hypocrisy among the people. But after the desolation is complete, they will know there had been a prophet among them (Ezekiel 33:31-33).
3 Outline of Ezekiel 34
Failure of the Shepherds of Israel
They did not feed the flock (Ezekiel 34:1-3).
They did not help the weak or search for the lost. They ruled with cruelty.(Ezekiel 34:4).
The flock was scattered with no one to seek them out (Ezekiel 34:5-6).
The shepherds (Israel leaders) sought their own gain (Ezekiel 34:7-9).
God will take away his flock so they can exploit it no more (Ezekiel 34:10).
God Will be the Shepherd
God will take over shepherding Israel. He makes several promises. (1) He will search for the lost sheep. (2) He will gather the scattered sheep into their own land. (3) He will feed them on rich pasture (his truth). (4) He will give them rest. (5) He will strengthen the weak. (6) He will shepherd with justice (Ezekiel 34:11-16).
Not only are the shepherds of Israel exploiting the flock, but some of the flock exploit the sheep who are weak. They take the best pasture and water, and muddy the rest with their feet (Ezekiel 34:17-19).
God says to these sheep, "You shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak ones with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, I will save My flock, and they will no longer be prey" (Ezekiel 34:20-22).
God will appoint David as the one shepherd and prince (Ezekiel 34:23-24).
NOTE: God will be the Shepherd in the person of Jesus Christ who claimed to be the Good Shepherd. He is called "David" because he sits on David s throne and is David s antitype (Psalm 23:1–6,John 10:1–21,Acts 2:29-36).
A New Peace
God describes a covenant of peace in which Israel can dwell securely in its own land (Ezekiel 34:25-28).
The land will be a beautiful and fruitful garden safe from famine (Ezekiel 34:29).
"You are my flock, the sheep of my pasture, my people, and I am your God," declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 34:30-31).
4 Outline of Ezekiel 35
NOTE: This chapter is an oracle against Mt Seir, a range of hills in the land of the Edomites who were descended from Abraham through Esau. We read in Genesis, "So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. Esau is Edom" (Genesis 36:8).
An Oracle Against Mount Seir
God tells Ezekiel to speak against the people of Mount Seir and say that God will make them (and all the rest of Edom) a desolate place (Ezekiel 35:1-4 see verse 15).
The Edomites harboured an ancient hatred against Israel, so they helped in destroying Jerusalem and shedding Israelite blood. But their hatred disqualified them from participation in Israel’s punishment. So now they will suffer punishment themselves (Ezekiel 35:5-6).
God describes the coming desolation (Ezekiel 35:7-9).
Because in their greed, hatred, and jealousy, they thought Judah and Israel’s land would be theirs. So God would ruin their own land (Ezekiel 35:10-11).
These people had boasted against God. "I heard it Myself!" he says. (Ezekiel 35:12).
God says to the people of Mt Seir, "As you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, so will I do to you. You will become a desolation, O Mount Seir, and so will all of Edom (Ezekiel 35:13-15).
5 Outline of Ezekiel 36
A Blessing on Israel
Having prophesied to the mountains of Seir, God now has Ezekiel prophesy to the Mountains of Israel that have been desolated and invaded by the Edomites (Ezekiel 36:1).
God acknowledges the desolation of Israel trampled upon by the nations (Ezekiel 36:2-4).
God reminds Israel that he has spoken in his burning zeal against the nations especially Edom (Ezekiel 36:5-6).
God has sworn that the nations around Israel will "endure reproach of their own." But the mountains of Israel will be fruitful again and God’s people "will soon come home" (Ezekiel 36:7-8).
God says to the mountains of Israel, "Behold, I am on your side". They will be fruitful again and be posessed and filled with God’s people as before (Ezekiel 36:9-12).
God promises that the people will reform and no longer endure reproach (Ezekiel 36:13-15).
A New Heart and a New Spirit
God describes how Israel defiled the land they lived in. This is why he poured out his wrath (Ezekiel 36:16-18).
God rightly scattered Israel to foreign nations buy the damage to his reputation concerned him (Ezekiel 36:19-21).
God will act not for the sake of the scattered Israelites but for the sake of his holy name (Ezekiel 36:22-23).
God will gather Israel and bring the people back to their own land. He will cleanse them and put within them a new heart and a new Spirit of obedience (Ezekiel 36:24-27).
Not only will God cleanse them, but he will bless them with abundant crops and orchards (Ezekiel 36:28-30).
God repeats that he will not do this for their sakes. He tells them to feel shame such that they loathe themselves (Ezekiel 36:31-32).
The nations will see cities resettled, ruins rebuilt, desolate land made into gardens. The nations will know that the LORD has done it (Ezekiel 36:33-36).
God promises to multiply the people like a flock (Ezekiel 36:37-38).
6 Responsibility of Shepherds and Preachers
What God required of the shepherds of Israel, he requires of those who shepherd the church today. He also required these things of Ezekiel, and preachers today have the same responsibilities. Paul describes these requirements as follows:
(1) Feed the flock with the whole counsel of God;
(2) Be watchers over the flock and guard the sheep from the "wolves".
(3) Be committed to the word of God’s grace, and warn the flock to share your commitment.
Acts 20:25-32 BSB Paul to the shepherds of the church at Ephesus
¶“25Now I know that none of you among whom I have preached the kingdom will see my face again. 26Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole will of God” (Acts 20:25-27 BSB).
¶“28Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number, men will rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30 BSB).
¶“31Therefore be alert and remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32And now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified” (Acts 20:31-32 BSB).