Ezekiel. Have you ever read it? We will read Ezekiel for over 2 weeks so I think it is pretty important for me to set the scenario. I think you will find it fascinating (of course, God wrote it). Many of you know I have waited anxiously for this book.
We read about the 3 sieges (is that the word I am looking for?) on the Jewish people that bring Judah into Babylonian captivity. There were 3 distinct moments where they were invaded and taken into captivity. We read about them from the perspective of Jeremiah, who was in Jerusalem to see all 3 events over the course of 40 years. Now read about it from the inside, from a first person perspective.
King Josiah, remember him? He was a good king. He found the Book of the Law in the temple when he was repairing it. He read it and wept when he saw how far his country had gotten from the Lord. He began a reformation and yes, people began to walk in the ways of the Lord; celebrating Passover, worshiping in the temple, following the Commandments. Well, Josiah was killed by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Neco at Megiddo. Four years later Neco was then defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, leaving Babylon as the world power.
Jeremiah was preaching during all this for 40 years , and surely had contemporaries ready to follow in his footsteps. Ezekiel was about 18 yrs old when Nebuchadnezzar took the first group of captives. Among that group was a familiar name, Daniel. Daniel was exiled at the age of 15 (with his friends Hananuah, Mishael, and Azariah) , while his friend Ezekiel was left behind. During this time Jeremiah was bringing the message to the people to repent…but they did not.
For 10 years, life continued the same, Judah continued to sin. Then King Johoiakim, king of Judah, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and he dies. Jehoiachin became king and once again Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem this time taking 10,000 captive, and this time Ezekiel was included. Ezekiel was a few years away from becoming a priest (age 30 eligibility). When he did turn 30, Ezekiel has a vision.
SO we have 3 men all living at the same time:
- Jeremiah was at Jerusalem with the Jews during all three stages of the exile, preaching and warning them to repent
- Ezekiel, who lived with the exiles in Babylon, bringing them a message of hope
- Daniel, who God put him to live with the Rulers in the court.
One thing I want you to keep in mind. Other evil nations were wiped out by the Lord. Judah however was not, they was in captivity. The difference is significant, God loves His people that He punished them in captivity as a form of correction, through their punishment they would come to know the Lord. And they did.