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The Prophet Ezekiel

Ezekiel prophesied during the time of the Jew’s Babylonian captivity. He continuously tried to persuade the people of Israel to turn back to God or God would invoke the promises in the covenant he had made with the people of Israel.

The Babylonian empire dominated the world under Nebuchadnezzar. He dominated Judah to control the trade routes out of Egypt.

Ezekiel ministered for seven years before the Temple was destroyed (587 BC) and fifteen years after.

This was a bleak time in the history of Israel. Ezekiel saw God’s glory depart from Israel. After Jerusalem was destroyed, with no temple, no king, and no capital, the people had no hope. Had the covenant failed? Was God’s promise of an everlasting dynasty for David a cruel joke?

Through Ezekiel, God promised that He would be merciful to a remnant.

He would live in their midst, and a Davidic King would rule in righteousness.

Jerusalem Falls Captive to Babylon

During the reign of King Jehoiakim (609—597 BC), “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years” (2 Kings 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar had earlier captured Judea to secure the trade routes out of Egypt.

Jehoiakim’s servitude began in 605 BC. Three years later, Judah’s king rebelled against Babylon, refusing to pay tribute to the king. Nebuchadnezzar quelled the rebellion and took prisoners back to Babylon. Daniel and his three friends were among the captives.

In 605 BC the prophet Daniel and his companions were taken captive to Babylon. Daniel was approximately 17 years old.

The siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC was a military campaign carried out by Nebuchadnezzar in which he put down another rebellion. King Jehoiachin was deported to Babylon as was the priest and prophet Ezekiel.

A decade later, in 587 BC, Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonians, which was brutally crushed by Nebuchadnezzar.

This third siege of Jerusalem culminated in the destruction of the
city and Temple, bringing an end to the Kingdom of Judah.

Why does Israel become captives of Babylon?

Israel rebelled against God.

The prophet Ezekiel continually warned the people of Israel to repent.

God decided to exile the people to Babylon for their sins in hopes of teaching the people a lesson.

The people of Israel believed that because they were God’s chosen people, God would protect them and the Temple. But they continued to live in disobedience to God. The promise to the Israelites concerning the promised land was conditional. It depended on the obedience of the people to God’s law. Moses states it as follows in Deuteronomy 28:

“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions […] And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other” (Deuteronomy 28:58-64).

As early as in the time of the Judges, the people worshiped idols and committed all kinds of sins. After the reign of David and Solomon, idol worship worsened under the successive kings of Israel and Judah.

First, in 722 BC the Northern Kingdom was captured by the Assyrians and the ten tribes were lost. Then the two tribes of Judah lasted another 150 years until they were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and exiled to Babylon.

Why Did This Destruction to Israel and Judah Happen?

God is trustworthy, and His promises never fail.

He promised Abraham that He would give him and his offspring the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:8). After 400 years in Egypt, the people of Israel journeyed forty years through the desert until they reached the promised land. Led by Joshua, they conquered the land west of the Jordan and captured the cities of the Canaanites. Yet, the people continued to sin against God.

Finally, after many years of warnings by the prophets, God brought upon the people of Judah the judgment about which Moses spoke.

The people of Israel were sent into exile in Babylon
because of their sins. The Chronicler writes:

“All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that He had made holy in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people until there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36: 14-16).

God is faithful and trustworthy.

God keeps His Word. He does what He says He will do.

But He did not abandon His people who were in exile. After seventy years, they were allowed to return to Judah and start

It was now up to God’s people to return God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. God expected their faithfulness and worship.

In the New Testament, God sent His son, Jesus Christ in the form of man. He died for the sins of His people.

Now God’s Spirit dwells in every believer (1 Corinthians 3:16) and God remains with believers forever.

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3).

The Prophet Ezekiel: Called by God

Ezekiel was one of the prophets called by God to minister to the people of Israel during the time of captivity and exile to Babylon.

Ezekiel’s ministry began when he was 30 years old.

He continuously warned the people to worship and obey God.

Ezekiel had seen the exile of God’s people in 605 BC. The people who were left in Jerusalem after the first captivity consoled themselves with the idea that they were better off than their brethren who were taken to Babylon. They believed that the Lord would protect them from any foreign power and that neither the Temple, city of Jerusalem, nor the Judean kingdom would ever be overthrown.

Nebuchadnezzar again seized Jerusalem in 597 BC. Ezekiel was among the people Nebuchadnezzar carried to Babylon. According to the account in 2 Kings 24:14–16, the Babylonians took captive mostly the chief men of the land at that time. The people remaining in Jerusalem continued to live in rebellion.

Ezekiel Ministers to the Jewish Captives in Babylon

Ezekiel prophesied and delivered the Lord’s words to the Jewish exiles in Babylon at about the same time that Jeremiah was prophesying in Judah and Daniel was prophesying in the
Babylonian court.

Ezekiel’s message was one of repentance, but also one of hope.

He saw beyond the tragedies of his time and to a future time when the Lord would gather His people to give them “a new heart” and “a new spirit.”

Studying Ezekiel will strengthen your faith in the Lord’s power to transform individuals and nations.

Ezekiel teaches a wonderful lesson that all who repent of their iniquities will receive God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.

Ezekiel taught that all of us are responsible for our own actions and will be punished or rewarded based on the choices we make (Ezekiel 18: 33).

Personal Responsibility

Each one of us has the personal responsibility to “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15) and then to glorify the Lord with good works (Ephesians 2:10). “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). Those who choose to reject the truth of God “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

We cannot evade our personal responsibility to exercise faith in Christ.