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
IV. 33:1-33 The Fall of Jerusalem:
33:1-9 Ezekiel is called to be a watchman. The first verses describe the watchman’s task and then Ezekiel is called to be a watchman and reminded of his duties.
33:10-20 These verses reemphasize what was said in chapter 18 but also stresses the importance of repentance which will result in forgiveness.
33:21-22 The fall of Jerusalem: Jerusalem has fallen and Ezekiel is able to speak. The fall of Jerusalem is told very briefly, especially given the importance of that event in Ezekiel’s message. Why do you think that is? (Recall 3:26-27) What is the relationship between Jerusalem’s fall and Ezekiel’s restored ability to speak?
33:23-29 The people who remained in Judah seem to think their survival indicates God’s favor. This causes them to claim the land and to claim to be the true Israel. What does God have Ezekiel say about that?
33:30-33 The people in Babylon listen to Ezekiel. He was correct about Jerusalem’s fate. But the exiles understanding of Ezekiel’s message and God’s requirements is shallow.
V. 34:1-39:29 Oracles of Hope and Restoration: Now Ezekiel’s message changes.
A. 34:1-31 Israel and its Leaders:Remember that shepherds are figures that stand for the role of kings. What have the shepherds done and not done? In verses 11-16 what will God do as Israel’s shepherd? Does this remind you of things Jesus said? Verses 17-24 the fault is not only on the shepherd, the sheep also bear some responsibility for their actions. A Davidic ruler will be established. Verses 25-31 What does the Covenant of Peace look like?
B.35:1-36:15 Edom and Israel: Mount Seir is in Edom. Edom attempted to occupy Judah after the fall of Jerusalem. After the oracles against Edom,restoration is promised to Israel (36:1-15).
C. 36:16-38 The Vindication of God’s Holiness Verses 16-21 retell the reasons for the Exile. Verses 22-32 state that restoration is not first of all the result of repentance but rather it is to sanctify God’s name. Even the ability to repent and to live faithfully is a gift from God. Verses 33-38 describe what will happen.
D. 37:1-28 Israel’s Restoration:Perhaps Ezekiel’s most well known prophecy, The valley of the dry bones in verses 1-14.The Hebrew word translated at “breath” can also mean wind and spirit. Is Ezekiel’s vision about the restoration of Israel to the land or is it about resurrection? Can it be about both?
Verses 15-28 The oracle of the two sticks: Now Ezekiel performs a symbolic act about the reunification of the two kingdoms Israel and Judah under the rule of David’s house.
E. 38:1-39:29 Oracles Against Gog: This is early apocalyptic literature. God may have been an actual people, perhaps from Anatolia. But quickly this oracle became about all Israel’s enemies,past,present, and future. In verses 18-23 the scene shifts from Gog and its allies as invaders to a cosmic response by God. 39:1-16 describe the result of the battle and the fall of Gog as well as the purifying of the land. The seven years it takes to burn the weapons and the seven months to bury the dead are exaggerated time lines and help indicate that this is not the recounting of a historical event but rather as an apocalyptic story. 39:25-29 are a summary of God’s plan for Israel.
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.