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Ezekiel-Revelation pattern

The OT book of Ezekiel is a key interpretation source for the NT book of Rev. The experience and visions of Ezekiel the prophet find their counterpart in the experience and visions of John the apostle. Therefore, the symbols, principles and predictions found in the prophecies of Ezekiel can reasonably be used as guidelines and insights when interpreting the Apocalypse.

A review of the contents of each chapter or set of chapters in Ezekiel, noting the corresponding symbol or event or allusion in a specific chapter or chapters in Revelation, provides the basic evidence. It will become obvious that there are a large number of explicit correspondences between the two books. Conclusion: the pattern found in Ezekiel's book is also to be found in the Apocalypse. Here's the evidence:

Ezekiel 1
1 Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon. John was in exile on Patmos (Rev 1:9).
3 The hand of the LORD was upon Ezekiel ("in the Spirit": cf. 3:14). John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day (Rev 1:9).
5 Four living creatures in association with the throne of God. Four living creatures in association with the throne of God (Rev 4:6).
24 The sound of their wings was like the sound of many waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, plus a voice (v. 25). Voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder (Rev 14:2).
26 The throne of the LORD's glory, accompanied by firmament and rainbow (v. 28). The rainbowed throne of God in heaven (Rev 4:3,9).
27 The appearance of the One on the throne, a representation of the glory of the LORD (v 28). The appearance of the One standing in the midst of the lampstands (Rev 1:13-15).
28 When he saw it, Ezekiel fell on his face, and then he heard a voice speaking. John heard a voice speaking, and when he turned and saw who it was, he fell at his feet as if dead (Rev 1:12,17).

Ezekiel 2
1 Ezekiel was empowered to stand on his feet again. The right hand of the glorified One is laid upon John so that he can bear the message (Rev 1:17).
3 Ezekiel was sent to the people of Israel, a nation of rebels, to declare "Thus says the LORD" (v 4). John is given the revelation from God (via Jesus, via the angel)         and told to write what he saw in a book and send it to the seven churches (Rev 1:1,11,19).
9 By a stretched-out divine hand, a scroll was offered to Ezekiel to eat. By the hand of an angel, John is given a scroll to eat (Rev 10:8,9).

Ezekiel 3
3 Ezekiel ate the prophecy scroll, which was sweet as honey. John likewise ate the prophecy scroll, which was sweet as honey at first, but afterwards was bitter (Rev 10:9,10).

Ezekiel 4
17 Famine conditions in Jerusalem resulted from a siege. Implied lack of bread during third seal is prophesied (Rev 6:6).

Ezekiel 5
2 "A third part" was used to segment the people of Jerusalem and the impending punishments upon them, as interpreted in vv. 5-12. "A third of..." was used to describe the segments of punishments during the trumpets (Rev 8:7,9-12; 9:15).
17 Famine, wild beasts, pestilence and sword (cf. 6:11). Sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts of the earth (Rev 6:8; 18:8).

Ezekiel 6
4 A multiplicity of idols (cf. vv. 5,6,9,13). Idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood (Rev 9:20).

Ezekiel 7
2 The four corners of the land of Israel (implying the desolation to come upon the whole land). The four corners of the earth (or land: see sidebar)         the setting of the trumpet punishments (Rev 7:1; 8:7,8,10,13).
8 God's wrath poured out. God's wrath poured out in part (Rev 8; 9)         and in full (Rev 16:19).
14 The trumpet blown and all made ready for disaster upon the godless in Israel. The trumpets blown in Rev 8; 9; 11 herald destruction upon the godless.
20 The abominable images and detestable idols. The works of men's hands associated with the worship of demons and idols (Rev 9:20).

Ezekiel 8
3 The Spirit lifted Ezekiel up between earth and heaven, and brought him in visions of God to Jerusalem; the same will happen again in 40:2, where he is taken to a very high mountain, to see a structure like a city opposite him. The Spirit carried John away to a great high mountain and showed him the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Rev 21:10).

Ezekiel 9
2 Six men with destroying power, and a seventh man with a writing case, were associated with the slaughter of the wicked in Jerusalem. Seven angels will blow trumpets and bring destruction upon the earth (Rev 8:6).
2 The seven men stood beside the bronze altar. The seven angels stand before God while another angel comes and stands at the golden altar (Rev 8:2,3).
4 Those who groan over the abominations in the land were marked upon their foreheads so as not to be slain by the six destroying men. Four angels with destroying power are restrained until the servants of God are sealed upon their foreheads (Rev 7:1-3).

Ezekiel 10
2 Burning coals were taken from among the cherubim and scattered over the city. A censer is filled with fire from the altar and thrown on the earth (Rev 8:5).

Ezekiel 11
16 God was a sanctuary for His people wherever they had been scattered. The "sealed" are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night within His temple (Rev 7:15).
20 In the context of a restored Israel: "They shall be my people, and I will be their God." In the context of new Jerusalem being established: "He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them" (Rev 21:3).

Ezekiel 12
28 A voice said: "None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word which I speak will be performed." The angel "swore by him who lives for ever... that there should be no more delay, but... the mystery of God, as he announced by his servants the prophets, should be fulfilled" (Rev 10:6,7); also, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near" (Rev 22:10).

Ezekiel 13
2 False prophets who saw delusive visions and who spoke lying divinations (v. 9). The false prophet and the three unclean spirits (Rev 16:13).
13 The storm of God's wrath, a deluge of rain in anger, and great hailstones of wrath. The fury of God's wrath, including thunder, lightning, earthquake and great hailstones (of a hundred pounds)         (Rev 16:18-21).
18 Women hunted down souls belonging to God's people, and kept other souls alive for profit. The harlot trades in human souls (Rev 18:13).

Ezekiel 14
4 Men took idols into their hearts and set the stumbling block of iniquity before their faces. Men would not give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and wood and stone, which cannot either see or hear or walk (Rev 9:20).
21 Four sore acts of judgment upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, evil beasts and pestilence, to cut off man and beast. The fourth seal aspects of judgment: sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts of the earth (Rev 6:8).

Ezekiel 15
7 Fire would consume the inhabitants of Jerusalem...and the land would be made desolate, because they had acted unfaithfully (v. 8). A third of the earth (land)         will be burnt up with fire (Rev 8:7).

Ezekiel 16
26-29 Israel played the harlot with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. The harlot commits fornication with the kings of the nations (Rev 17:2).
30 The deeds of a brazen harlot. The description of a brazen harlot, drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs (Rev 17:4-6).
37-41 At God's direction, former lovers gathered to uncover the nakedness of the harlot-city, strip her bare of clothes and jewels, burn her with fire, and slay her inhabitants. "The ten horns and beast will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, devour her flesh and burn her up, for God has put it into their hearts" (Rev 17:16,17).

Ezekiel 17
22 A high and lofty mountain, the place of God's planting and fruitfulness. "New Jerusalem" comes down to a great high mountain, a place of great fruitfulness (Rev 21:10; 22:2).

Ezekiel 18
30 In a context of 'this may be your last chance', "Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin." In the same context, "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7).

Ezekiel 20
38 "I will let you go in by number: I will purge out the rebels from among you." "But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood..." (Rev 21:27).
47 "Behold, I will kindle a fire, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree; the blazing fire shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it." "A third of the trees were burnt up" (Rev 8:7); "men were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over their plagues" (Rev 16:9).

Ezekiel 21
7 When they heard the tidings of God's doom, "every heart will melt and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint and all knees will be weak as water." When they see the certainty of God's doom, they call the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God..."for who can stand before it?" (Rev 6:15-17).

Ezekiel 22
2,3 "A city that sheds blood in the midst of her...and makes idols to defile herself." In the great city "was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth" (Rev 18:24).
31 Regarding the bloody city and its inhabitants: "I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their way I have requited upon their head, says the Lord GOD." God pours out His wrath on Babylon (Rev 16:17,19), and "she shall be burned with fire, for mighty is the God who judges her... render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds" (Rev 18:6,8).

Ezekiel 23
2 "Two women, the daughters of one mother...played the harlot." "Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth's abominations" (Rev 17:5).
18 "She carried on her harlotry so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her..." "She glorified herself and played the wanton..." (Rev 18:7).
22-26 "I will rouse against you your lovers... and I will commit judgment to them... and I will direct my indignation against you... they shall seize your sons and daughters, and your survivors shall be destroyed by fire; they shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your fine jewels." "The woman was ... bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls... a harlot with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication... the beast with seven heads and ten horns carried her...the ten horns and the beast will hate the harlot; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose" (Rev 17:2,4,7,16,17).
32 "You shall drink your sister's cup... you will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow...a cup of horror and desolation." "Holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication" (Rev 17:4).
40 "For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and decked yourself with ornaments; you sat upon a stately couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed my incense and my oil." Scarlet-clothed Babylon says is her heart, "A queen I sit...", and the merchants will bewail her loss, for she no longer buys their cargo, which included gold, silver, jewels, silk and scarlet, incense, myrrh, wine and oil (Rev 18:11-13).

Ezekiel 24
7 "Woe to the bloody city... for the blood she had shed is still in the midst of her." "Alas, alas for the great city; in one hour has her judgment come... for in her was found the blood of prophets..." (Rev 18:10,24).

Ezekiel 26
17 Lamentation by the princes of the sea over the fall of Tyre. Lamentation of the merchants and shipmasters over the fall of Babylon the great (Rev 18:11-19).

Ezekiel 27
28-36 Lamentation by the mariners over the fall of Tyre. Lamentation of the merchants and shipmasters over the fall of Babylon the great (Rev 18:11-19).

Ezekiel 32
7,8 Re Egypt: "When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens, and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon shall not give its light; all the bright lights of heaven I will make dark over you, and put darkness upon your land." "A third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon and that a third of their light was kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night... the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was in darkness" (Rev 8:12; 16:10). "A city figuratively called Egypt" (Rev 11:8).

Ezekiel 33
27 Sword, famine, pestilence, wild beasts. Sword, famine, pestilence, wild beasts (Rev 6:8).

Ezekiel 34
25 God would banish the wild beasts from the land. Beast and false prophet destroyed (Rev 19:20).
28 Kingdom Age picture: Israel no longer a prey to the nations, no more consumed with hunger, and no longer to suffer reproach of the nations. Kingdom Age picture: no more mourning nor crying nor pain (Rev 21:4).

Ezekiel 35
13 Re Edom: "And you magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and multiplied your words against me" (with revilings against Israel, which it was allowed to devour). Re beast: "It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling" (and it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them)         (Rev 13:6,7).

Ezekiel 36
28 "You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God." "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be their God" (Rev 21:3).
35 The land restored like the garden of Eden. Nothing accursed; the tree of life (Rev 22:2,3).

Ezekiel 37
26-28 "I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore." "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be their God" (Rev 21:3). This is the New Jerusalem, with God being its temple: "By its light shall the nations walk" (Rev 21:24).

Ezekiel 38,39
Gogian invasion and divine destruction. Destruction of the armies that come against the Lamb (Rev 19:17-21), and a similar fate to the nations which come from Gog and Magog to attack the saints and the beloved city (Rev 20:7-9).

Ezekiel 40
2 Ezekiel was brought in visions to a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city. John likewise sees a city on a very high mountain (Rev 21:10).
4 Ezekiel was instructed to look with eyes, hear with ears, set his mind on what he is to be shown, and then to declare all that he saw to the house of Israel. Similar instruction are given to John (Rev 1:19; 19:9; 22:8,18).

Ezekiel 43
7 The throne of God to be in the midst of the people of Israel forever; no more defilement forever. No more anything accursed or unclean, since God's throne is in the midst of the city (Rev 21:27; 22:3).

Ezekiel 47
1-12 Water comes forth from temple, trees growing on either side, bearing fruit every month and leaves for the healing of the nations. A similar picture in Rev 22:1,2.

Ezekiel 48
35 The name of the city shall be "the LORD is there". The new Jerusalem is said to be God's dwelling place, and "the glory of God is its light" (Rev 21:3,23).


Except for a specific local application (eg, princes of Israel in Eze 19)         or a description of a temple building (eg Eze 41,42), virtually every chapter in Ezekiel finds a significant corresponding detail in the Apocalypse. For several of these chapters, the significance refers to whole events or situations, not merely the use of a similar symbol. Twelve of the most obvious correspondences are:

  1. A message soon to be fulfilled.
  2. Prophet/apostle caught up in a vision and directed by a divine messenger.
  3. The four living creatures (cherubim)         and throne of God's glory in a heavenly sanctuary.
  4. The four-fold punishment: sword, famine, pestilence, beasts.
  5. Sealing on the foreheads of the faithful.
  6. Use of one-third.
  7. God's wrath poured out.
  8. The harlot, subsequently destroyed by her lovers.
  9. Lamentation over fall of Tyre/Babylon.
  10. Gogian invasion and destruction.
  11. Kingdom Age established by the Messiah/Lamb.
  12. Sanctuary of God in the midst of Israel, with river and healing trees.
When a scientist tries to determine a pattern in his data or to predict a trend from a number of points, he uses a method called "goodness of fit". If he finds that a large number of the points align themselves with his proposed curve, it is a "good fit". The fit with Ezekiel is "very good". Many detailed correspondences, which cover the entirety of both books, demonstrate that Ezekiel IS a pattern for Revelation. Therefore, it is reasonable to generally interpret Revelation in light of the Ezekiel framework.

Interpreting the Apocalypse via Ezekiel

  1. The prophetic message was given to a people who would see a fulfillment (not just a beginning)         soon (immediately, not suddenly). Implication: the whole of Revelation was applicable to the first century.
  2. The message pertained to Jerusalem and its fall, because of the wicked practices of its inhabitants. Implication: an early date of writing, prior to AD 70.
  3. The hearers of the message were outside the land (cf. Ezekiel's exiles), yet the subject of Jerusalem's wickedness and God's certain judgment was very relevant to their own spiritual welfare. Implication: this explains why the letters were sent to Asian ecclesias; Gentile history is not particularly relevant.
  4. The setting of the visions is the same as Ezekiel's: God's throne, cherubim, angelic host to do God's bidding. The big extra in Revelation: the Lamb! Implication: Rev 1 and 5 are not pictures of any "multitudinous Christ", but of Jesus' representative angel and the Lamb himself.
  5. The pattern is: punishment upon Jerusalem by God via Gentiles; then the deeds done by the Gentiles will come back upon their own heads. A pattern is seen in the one-third punishment with trumpets and the 100% punishment with bowls or vials. Implication: there is a rationale to the book; it is not just a collection of arbitrary/unrelated political events.
  6. The beast is a Gentile power, whose seven heads could refer to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and a future Mideast power. (These seven may possibly be enumerated a little differently.)         The first six have been the oppressors of Israel, when Israel was in the land. The beast's ten horns refer to Mideast nations (cf Gen 15:18-21; Psa 83:1-8), or countries allied against Israel (Eze 38). Implication: the seven heads are not seven forms of Roman government; the seven hills do not refer to topology.
  7. The harlot represents two aspects of the same city Jerusalem: initially (a)         inhabited by Jews, punished by God (the jealous Husband)         by means of the beast and ten horns; afterward (b)         being occupied by the beast, Jerusalem becomes a Gentile city, which is destroyed by Christ at his Coming. There are two distinct destructions of the "great city". Recall that this same "great city" is figuratively called "Sodom and Egypt" (Isa 1:10; Eze 16:48; Jer 44:15-17), and explicitly said to be the place where the "Lord was crucified" (Rev 11:8). Implication: this is not talking about papal Rome, but the physical location of Jerusalem.
  8. The harlot is called "Babylon" because of what that ancient city represented: idolatry and materialism and pride. These features were the same in Tyre, and also in Jerusalem, which had allied itself so much with that city. This explains why Revelation 18 has language taken from Ezekiel and Jeremiah which refers to all three cities. Implication: all godless cities and systems will be included in God's destructions.
  9. The beast and armies attack the Lamb after he is back in Jerusalem in the midst of a restored Israel. The Lamb has the title "king of kings" and a robe dipped in blood because of his overthrow of the beast's kingdom (darkened Jerusalem)         and the Arabs (the ten horns). Nevertheless, another ten-nation confederacy comes to counterattack, only to be destroyed by divine wrath on the mountains of Israel. Implication: the Gogian invasion of Eze 38; 39 and Rev 20 is post-adventual, and Israel will continue to dwell safely under Christ's protection.
  10. The Kingdom is established by the Lamb, now joined by his immortal Bride, and a renewed Jerusalem will become the center of the earth, the throne of the Lord, the focus of God's law, and the source of divine light and healing to the mortal nations. Implication: Revelation 21 describes the Kingdom Age, not a post-millennial age.
The entire book of the Apocalypse was sent to each ecclesia, and thus the entire book had some relevancy to the first-century believers. They were expected to see the message throughout the book as a direct encouragement to them. Each generation of believers, from the first to the twentieth century, is expected to do the same. Regardless of when they lived, believers would still be able to learn from the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the knowledge that the world oppressor (whichever was then current)         would one day disappear. And they would fervently hope for Christ to return in their lifetime.

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