Ezekiel's a prophet. Mainly a prophet of wrath, it's true, but also a prophet of consolation. He's a little bit country and a little bit rock n' roll—or, uh, a lot rock n' roll (think Death Metal) and a little bit country. As a prophet, Ezekiel predicts destruction for his own people, as well as for most of the nations around them: Edom, Moab, Egypt. The list goes on--just about every nation in the known world at the time.
But prophecy's about more than just predicting wrath. It's also about looking towards a better future, picturing the best as well as the worst. Ezekiel gives the people a way out, but it involves strict obedience and the grace of God. He predicts that this will happen, and that there will be an end to God's wrath. The exiles need something to hold onto.
Now, this all sounds like prophecy as usual—a little destruction, a little redemption, add some casual smiting, and voilà! Someone call the publisher.
However, Ezekiel's a little more playful and eccentric than your average prophet. His brand of prophecy includes all of the following hallmarks:
- The Performative Prophet. The Israelite prophets love to practice what they preach and bring their metaphor to life, but Ezekiel puts them all to shame. He groans, he builds brick models of the siege of Israel, he destroys his own hair in various ways—he's all about that performance.
- The Prophet Possessed. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah have very normal, tea-time conversations with God, in which everyone gets to share their thoughts and feelings and it is committed to paper. Not so in Ezekiel—he gets jerked around by the Spirit of the Lord, and is often forced into silence, or moved bodily in some sort of trance. He's God's guy, body and soul.
- The Prophet's Proverbs. Ezekiel likes to sprinkle some proverbs (a.k.a. Ancient wisdom sayings) alongside his prophecy, and add a dash of poetry or legal disputes or whatever he feels like, really. Ezekiel has no problem jumping off from other people's songs, poems, or sayings to get his point going, and he loves extended allegories, parables, and symbolic stories. There's your classic gloom 'n' doom prophecy, sure, but it's dressed up with sparkles in Ezekiel.
Basically, Ezekiel is a versatile dude, with super strong opinions...like an ancient Lady Gaga. Sometimes, he walks around wearing an outfit made of meat (it's commentary, obviously), and sometimes, he puts on his fanciest outfit and goes on a jazz tour with Tony Bennett.
He'll always surprise you.