Ezekiel spoke to a community forced from its home, a people who had broken faith with their God. As the spokesman for the God of Israel, Ezekiel spoke powerfully to vindicate the reputation of this holy God. The primary purpose of Ezekiel’s message was to restore God’s glory before the people who had spurned it in view of the watching nations. But Israel’s own welfare was bound up with its God. So the prophet pleads: “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live” (18:31–32).
Ezekiel’s message was unrelenting. Of all the books in the OT, only Psalms, Jeremiah, and Genesis are longer. Ezekiel’s uncompromising message is matched by language that often seems hard and sometimes offensive. If there is no softening his language, at least it appears that the grandeur of Ezekiel’s vision of God rendered much of the earthly reality he observed as sordid, and worse. The appropriate response, in Ezekiel’s terms, is not simply revulsion but repentance and a longing for the restoration of God’s glory.