“And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me; therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.” (Ezekiel 39:23)
The prophet Ezekiel had the thankless job of proclaiming God’s message on the crowded and hostile streets of Babylon. At the same time that Jeremiah was warning the citizens of Jerusalem of the coming destruction of the holy city, Ezekiel was preaching the same message to the exiles in Babylon. Even though these exiles were hundreds of miles away from the Promised Land and the temple, God would not leave them in the dark. Instead He sent Ezekiel to warn, exhort, and comfort the weary exiles.
Ezekiel was a priest as well as a prophet. The Babylonians had not captured the Jews in order to make them slaves in Babylon; instead they wanted to displace the population of Israel especially its leadership and nobility, and settle their own citizens and other foreigners in the land.
During Ezekiel’s life and ministry, Israel (the northern kingdom) was corrupt politically and spiritually. Their idolatry led to captivity by Assyria. At that time, the leadership of Judah (the southern kingdom) was righteous; but eventually they too, although experiencing brief revivals at times, fell into the idolatry of the neighboring nations. The people refused to heed the prophets’ reminders about the curses and blessings promised by God in the Mosaic covenant.
God wanted the people to know that “I am the Lord.” This refrain is repeated 65 times in the book and emphasizes that the purpose of God’s actions is always to bring about the spiritual renewal of all people. Insincere worship would lead to immoral behavior and judgment. The Lord wants us to know that “He is the Lord,” and He expects us to love and serve Him. May we be faithful.
God’s people went into captivity,
Because of their iniquity,
But they refused to change their ways,
And became involved in idolatry.
The Lord holds us responsible,
For the sin in our lives,
And to be obedient to Him,
Is that for which the trusting Christian strives.
Dear Father, please forgive us for not heeding your commandments and making decisions that are not pleasing to you. Help me to depend on you to help me make the right decisions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.