You will find an introduction and outline to Ezekiel here.
A prayer to use before reading from the Book of Common Worship:
Eternal God, your wisdom is greater than our minds can attain, and your truth shows up our learning. To those who study, give curiosity, imagination, and patience enough to wait and work for insight. Help us to doubt with courage, but to hold all our doubts in the larger faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
An Outline (based on Wilson)
I. 1:1-3:27 Introduction to the Prophet and Prophecy
II. 4:1-24:27 Prophecies and Judgment against Judah and Jerusalem
III. 25:1-32 Oracles against Foreign Nations
IV. 33:1-33 The Fall of Jerusalem
V. 34:1-39:29 Oracles of Hope and Restoration
VI. 40:1-48:35 Vision of the Restored Jerusalem Ezekiel has a vision of the restored Temple in Jerusalem. Scholars think this vision occurred in April or October 573 BCE. The vision is detailed and may have been intended as a blueprint for when the exiles returned.Remember that the Temple and religious practices associated with it matter greatly because this is where God resides. Remember in the historical books, how God’s glory came to rest in the Temple.
This Temple plan has features designed to prevent the practices which caused the exile. The plan also embodies the idea that God is at the center of the nation and the people live around the Temple surrounded by God’s holiness.
The Temple described in the vision is not the Temple that was built by the exiles.Some of Ezekiel’s disciples interpreted the vision eschatologically as the temple God would cause to be built at the end of time.
45:1-9 The Distribution of the Land: This is an idealized plan. The holy district has two sections, a northern section for the Levites and a southern section for the Zadokite priests. In verses 8-9 Princes cannot evict people from the land.
45:10-17 Weights and measures for offerings must be honest. Verses 13-17 the people will bring offerings to the prince, who as the people’s representative will offer them to God.
45:18-25 Festival Regulations: A purifying ritual is described along with Passover and the Festival of the Booths. Notice that Pentecost and the day of Atonement are not listed.
46:1-15 Gate regulations and the Prince’s minor offerings: Before the exile, Kings may have performed priestly actions but now the priests offer the sacrifices. Verses 9-10 are instructions for crowd control during festivals. Verses 13-15 the prince also provides the daily sacrifices.
46:16-18 The Prince’s property could not permanently be given away. Also the prince could not take the property of other’s lands.
46:19-24 The sacrificial kitchens.There were kitchens where the priests’ food was prepared from the sacrifices and there were kitchens where the common meal sacrifices were prepared for the general public
47:1-12 The sacred river: From God’s throne in the Temple the waters of life flow. See also Joel 3:18; Zech 14:8 and Rev ch 22.
47:13-48:29 A new Holy Land
47:13-23 Allotment of the Land with national boundaries. All the tribes receive an equal allotment. Aliens receive an equal allotment.
48:1-29 Tribal and holy district boundaries. The tribe of Joseph consists of Ephraim and Manasseh, which each get a portion of land. The Levites, the priestly tribe do not. In this way there are twelve tribes on the land. The area of Jerusalem was 100 times the area of the Temple, a square of 1.6 miles per side. Verses 21-22 are the allotment for the prince. Verses 30-35 The new Jerusalem: There are three gates on each of the city’s four sides. Each gate is named after a tribe. Now Ephriam and Manasseh are combined in Joseph and the Levites have a gate. Jerusalem receives a new name- “the Lord is there” Yahweh-shammah.
This is the end of the book of Ezekiel. Take a moment and think about how the book progressed from Ezekiel’s call to the vision of the new Jerusalem.
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Ezekiel.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Pfisterer Darr, Katheryne, “Ezekiel” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 6, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 2001.
Cook, Stephen L. “Ezekiel” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Wilson, Robert R. “Ezekiel” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.