I love living where I do. Sunsets, water, breezes, green year round….. warm…fish…And I love America. “In God We Trust”….. “Liberty”… “Fraternity”…. “Equality”…It is a wonderful place to be.
Ezekiel loved his homeland too. He grew up in Jerusalem and thought of it as the city of God and the city of David–with all the blessings that promised. Especially, the wonderful promise of the atoning Savior and King to come. It was the promised land, after all.
In Ezekiel 22-24, the prophet predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Their lewdness, idoltry, disobedience, corruption, immorality, and hardheadedness would finally catch up with them. Their destruction would be a fair act on God’s part. “I the Lord have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back,…” (24:14).
Ezekiel had already left Jerusalem. He and his wife, along with people like Daniel and his friends, were living in Iraq. He was preaching to the exiles. They had lived there now about eleven years when she suddenly died (587 BC). God told him not to cry or mourn in front of others. In fact, he lost his voice and was told he would get it back when a messenger arrived telling him how Babylon’s army had wiped Jerusalem off the map (24:15-27).
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on thefifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “the city has been captured!”
Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped. And He had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute” (Ezekiel 33:21-22).
The point of all of this was to call attention to the truth of Ezekiel’s words as a prophet. These events were programed so that the people in exile, and those who would later read this book, would bow their knees and know that the LORD is God. Isn’t it remarkable that his experience and his prophecy have been preserved all these 2,600 years?
Of course, Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC. The exile lasted seventy more years before a group returned to rebuild the city and its temple. Ezekiel didn’t make it back to the city he loved. But, he did keep on believing and preaching and calling others to turn from their selfish ways to love and trust the one true God. That way he was living in the “promised land,” even while in exile, by loving God and doing what He commanded whether anyone really “heard” him or not.
LESSON TO THE CHURCH
Jesus is our representative–our righteousness. We are still called to love God and do what He commands. The destruction of Jerusalem was a tragic event. It really occurred. Ezekiel tells us why. They were stiff-necked, proud people who refused to listen and took their privileges as God’s people for granted. They refused to clean up their act. It is a lesson for us. We Christians cannot take our position in Christ Jesus for granted. We must live like people to whom God has shown many mercies, bow before Him as our Lord, as well as Savior, and clean up our lives. What do you need to sweep away?
Some always listen; a remnant will return to living in the “promised land” of personal relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus alone. It is a wonderful place to be.