Ezekiel is known as one of Israel’s greatest prophets, but how good was he really? His prophecies against Israel’s enemies were specific, so how did Ezekiel do? How many did he get right and how many did he get wrong?
In recent studies we have looked at archaeological discoveries that support claims that Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon while in exile during the early part of the 6th century BC. In this study we will look at the accuracy (or lack thereof) of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
More than 800 verses in Ezekiel contain predictive (future) material. That’s more than half of the Book of Ezekiel. The prophecies of Ezekiel concern the doom of Jerusalem, the hope of Jerusalem, and the judgment of foreign nations and cities.
- Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning the doom of Jerusalem years before its destruction by the Babylonians are specific and many; including the type of siege against Jerusalem, what the people of Jerusalem would eat and drink during the siege, what their life would be like during the siege, how people in Jerusalem would die because of the siege, and the Babylonian defilement of the Jewish temple.
- Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning the hope of Jews returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple
- Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning the judgment of foreign nations and cities; including Tyre, Egypt,
Dates of Ezekiel’s Visions
First, let’s look at the years Ezekiel received the prophetic visions –
Ezekiel’s Call Vision – “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.” Ezekiel 1:1-3 (593 BC)
Ezekiel’s Visit to Jerusalem Vision – “And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there.” Ezekiel 8:1 (592 BC)
Ezekiel’s Rebellion of Israel Vision – “It came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I will not be inquired of by you.’ ‘Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Then make known to them the abominations of their fathers.” Ezekiel 20:1-4 (591 BC)
Ezekiel’s Start of Jerusalem Siege Vision – “Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, write down the name of the day, this very day—the king of Babylon started his siege against Jerusalem this very day.” Ezekiel 24:1-2 (588 BC)
Ezekiel’s Tyre Judgment Vision – “And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.” Ezekiel 26:1-2 (587 BC)
Ezekiel’s Egypt Judgment Vision – “In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt.” Ezekiel 29:1-2 (587 BC)
Ezekiel’s Judgment Against Pharaoh Visions – “And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, that the word of theLord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and see, it has not been bandaged for healing, nor a splint put on to bind it, to make it strong enough to hold a sword.” Ezekiel 30:20-21 (587 BC) …. and …. “Now it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lordcame to me, saying, ‘Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude …” Ezekiel 31:1-2 (June 21, 587 BC) … and … “And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lordcame to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt …” Ezekiel 32:1-2 (585 BC) …. and …. “It came to pass also in the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, And cast them down to the depths of the earth, Her and the daughters of the famous nations, With those who go down to the Pit: ‘Whom do you surpass in beauty? Go down, be placed with the uncircumcised.” Ezekiel 32:17-19 (585 BC)
Ezekiel’s Babylonia Plunder Egypt Vision – “And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of theLord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it. Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he shall take away her wealth, carry off her spoil, and remove her pillage; and that will be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor, because they worked for Me,’ says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 29:17-20 (571 BC)
Ezekiel’s New Jerusalem Vision – “In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the Lord was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.” Ezekiel 40:1-2 (573 BC)
Dates of Ezekiel’s Fulfilled Prophecies
Second, let’s look at the years some of Ezekiel prophetic visions were fulfilled. Keep in mind the key dates about Ezekiel: Ezekiel taken captive in Jerusalem and moved to Babylon in 597 BC; Ezekiel received his visions about Jerusalem’s destruction between 593-590 BC; Ezekiel’s last recorded prophecy in 570 BC. I’ve also listed the words of the prophet Jeremiah who was a witness of some of Ezekiel’s fulfilled prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem –
- Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonian army began two-year siege of Jerusalem in 588 BC
- Jews inside the besieged city of Jerusalem experienced a severe famine (586 BC)
- Nebuchadnezzar slaughtered King Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, then blinded Zedekiah, bound him with chains and took him to Babylon in 586 BC (Jeremiah 52:10-11)
- Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple, the king’s palace, all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the nobles in 586 BC (Jeremiah 52:12-14)
- The Babylonian commander of guards deported many of the Jews from Jerusalem to Babylon, but left some of the poorest Jews in Judah to be vinedressers and farmers in 586 BC (Jeremiah 52:15-16)
- Tyre was attacked by “many nations” …. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the mainland city of Tyre for 13 years (586-573 BC) until Tyre agreed to pay tribute … the Persians (539 BC) …. Alexander the Great laid siege to the island city of Tyre (333-322 BC) and threw rubble from Tyre’s mainland and tossed it (timber, stones, soil) into the sea to build a land bridge to the island city …. Macedonians (315 BC), Ptolemies (290 BC), Seleucids (195 BC) and Romans (64 BC) also occupied Tyre prior to the time of Christ
- Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt and took “plunder” from the campaign in 568 BC
- Babylon’s King Evil-Merodach pardoned Judah’s imprisoned King Jehoiachin and released him from prison in 562 BC and was given a regular allowance for the rest of his life (Jeremiah 52:31-34)
- The beginning of the resurrection and reunification of Judah and Israel as a people (Ezekiel 38 – 1948 AD)
Many of Ezekiel’s prophecies are still future. They deal with the coming Messianic Kingdom when Jesus will rule the world from David’s throne. However, that did not interest me when I was an atheist looking at the historical reliability of the Bible. I did not believe in the supernatural and was only interested in what evidence existed that might validate historical portions of Old and New Testament texts.
In the next part of our series, Convince Me There’s A God, we will look at some of the archaeological evidence supporting the details of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”