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.
40:1- 42:20 The New Temple. On the 25th anniversary of Ezekiel’s exile, God transports him to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. A heavenly intermediary guides Ezekiel around. They move, generally, from the outside to the interior measuring as they go along. A “long cubit” was about 20.68 inches. (A ordinary cubit was 17.5 inches) The reed was 10.3 feet.
Verses 40:6-16 describe the eastern outer gate which is similar in size and structure to other gateways found at Megiddo, Gezer, and Hazor. The “recesses” were side rooms.
Verses 17-19 describe the outer court. The thirty chambers were likely rooms for the Levites and people to meet and to eat.
Verses 20-27 describe the northern and southern gates. The description of steps up to the gates tells us the Temple was elevated.
Verses 28-46 describe the inner gate towers. The Temple was built as a succession of terraces. The three inner gates correspond to the outer gates but only priests could pass through the inner gates. There were places for the offerings to be prepared, for the priests to use and for the singers to use.
40:47-41:4 The Temple Proper: The successive entrances each become narrower. What do you think this signifies? Notice the temple is ten steps,about 10 feet higher than the inner court. Notice in 41:3 that the heavenly intermediary enters the inner room or most holy place and Ezekiel did not.
41:5-15 describe annexes and surrounding buildings. The temple equipment, the temple horses, and the temple treasury may have been in these rooms. Verses 15b-26 describe the wall decoration and the furniture.
42:1-14 The Priests’ Chambers. There were three stories of chambers which may have been terraced against the north and south walls.
42:15-20 The measuring is complete. The Temple was a square of 861 feet on each side. Notice the wall which separates the sacred from the common.
43:1-12 Return the Glory of God. Recall in chapter 10:18-19,11:22-23 Ezekiel’s vision when God left the Temple via the east gate. Now in this vision, God returns via the east gate. In verses 6-12 God warns against defiling the Temple. The phrase “corpses of their kings” may not refer to actual bodies but rather to the deification of dead kings. In verse 7, God is taking permanent residence in the Temple.
43:13-17 Description of the alter of burnt offering. The alter symbolizes the cosmic center and the gateway to heaven. The height of the alter was over 17 feet, so steps were needed.
43:18-27 describe the consecration of the altar.
44:1-31 The Temple Ordinances: verses 1-5 The outer east gate remains closed symbolizing God’s presence in the Temple and the gates consecration by God’s entrance through it. The prince or king uses the room to eat the ceremonial meal.
Verses 4-5 Ezekiel’s commission is renewed. Verses 6-9 foreigners cannot serve in the temple. Verses 10-14 the Levites have particular roles because of their role in Israel’s apostasy. Zadokite priests are allowed to perform sacrifices and to come near to God. Verses 17-31 are the priestly rules about vestments, marriage, hear, and so on. They are to teach the people and to act a judges.
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.