Reading through the Bible together
The ministry of the prophet Ezekiel spans about the same time as Daniel; both were prophets during the Babylonian exile. While Daniel remained as a statesman in the Babylonian court, Ezekiel lived among the exiles and received divine messages. In Ezekiel 12 we see the prophet enacting the message of God; a dramatic presentation that would attract the attention and stimulate their thinking to discern the meaning of the message. The impending doom of the Jews still in Judah and the captivity of King Zedekiah is the focus of the vision. This prophetic message, like other times, is given to prepare the people and warn them of the future and not to spurn God’s messages. While Ezekiel warns the exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah (34:2-3) gives the message to Zedekiah back home that the Babylonians are coming to destroy Jerusalem.
The prophet Ezekiel uses the dramatic method of presenting God’s message because of the rebellious nature of the Israelites. They have reached a position where they have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear; having lost their moral sensibility to discern God’s warning messages. The prophet’s depiction finds exact fulfillment in the capture of Zedekiah trying to escape through a hole in the wall by night and then having his eyes cut out by King Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah (12:12). Though such cruel fate came upon Zedekiah at the hands of the Babylonians, yet God had mercy to let him live and as promised by Jeremiah that he would die in peace and not by the sword (Jeremiah 34:4, 5). After the capture of Zedekiah, many Jews were scattered and dispersed among the nations. But these were comparatively few who had escaped the sword, famine, and pestilence that had come upon Jerusalem. Through this the nations would learn more about the God of Israel (12:16). There is always a chance for the remnant who are faithful to God to be spared of punishment and made a spectacle to the world of the love of God.
As the warning message was given by Ezekiel to those in exile, it brought uncertainty, fear, dismay, and loss of hope. There were some among them who said the word of the prophet would take a long time to fulfill or that the vision may fail. God affirmed through Ezekiel that the predicted events would surely come and not be discounted by those who preached false messages. The doom on the house of Israel was certain because of their wickedness and lack of trust to believe the messages of the true prophets (Ezekiel and Jeremiah) rather than be deceived by false visions. We see God, in this chapter, repeatedly warning the people of the impending doom and that His word would surely be fulfilled.
How tragic it is to see God’s chosen people not turning to Him in spite of the doom and the impending return of the Babylonians to attack Jerusalem. The evil one is always trying to nullify divine messages with false messages that are easily accepted by the people. If we as God’s final remnant do not harden our hearts like Israel of old but heed God’s messages and practice them in our daily life, then we will fulfill the purpose of His chosen people to share the gospel to the entire world.
Roy Jemison Injety
Spicer College, India