The prophet Isaiah warned the people of Israel of their downhill slide into apathy and indifference toward the God of Israel. He was active from 740 to 680 BC. Isaiah was quite unpopular during his life time and only rediscovered a few hundred years ago by the English speaking world. A single scroll of the entire book, found among the Dead Scrolls is located in the Shrine of the Book at the National Museum in Jerusalem. See Young Isaiah.
When Isaiah was on-scene, the original one nation of Israel had been divided into Ten Northern Tribes and two Southern. This division had happened after the death of King Solomon in 931 BC. The Assyrian nation to the East headquartered at Ninevah subsequently invaded the Northern tribes in 722 with great loss of Jewish life and a replacement pagan people moving in from the East. (They became the Samaritans of Jesus' day). A very good summary of this time period of Jewish history is found in 2 Kings 17. See The Kings of Israel and Judah.
God began to transfer world power and dominion away from Israel at this time, and world history transitioned into what are called “the times of the gentiles” (or the time of “gentile world dominion.”) See Chronology of the Times of the Gentiles.
In 605 BC young crown Prince Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon accompanied his father Nabopolassar on a military campaign centered at Carchemish in Syria. There they drove the Egyptian armies, under Pharaoh Neco II, out of the region shifting the balance of power in the gentile nations of that day. (Israel’s popular king Josiah entered the fray unwisely and was killed in the cross fire). On the way back to Babylon, Nabopolassar and son stopped by Jerusalem where they took a number of select captives with them. The prisoners included a 20 year old young man (Ezekiel) who was then in training for the Levitical priesthood in the temple. Accompanying the entourage were several hundred (?) other Jewish exiles. The exiles would be well-treated in their Babylonian exile, but remaining in Jerusalem would prove unwise.
Ezekiel was put in charge of his party of the captives and they were placed in an internment camp 30 miles north of Babylon. It is there that the prophet wrote his great Old Testament book.
Jehoiachim was king in Jerusalem at the time. Nebuchadnezzar also took Daniel and three friends from the Royal household and another 10,000 other hostages back to Babylon. There the four boys were trained to serve in the Royal household. The rest were assimilated into the culture of that great city.
Ezekiel’s book begins in March 597 BC when God gave his young prophet dramatic personal revelations of awe and wonder. (Chapters 1-2). He then received his job assignment:
Then God said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.Ezekiel was overwhelmed by all God had shown him and it took him seven days to rebound.
“For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, “not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. “But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. “Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. “Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. “And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.” (3:4-11).
Please read the rest of his book to get the full story. For a bird’s eye view of what was happening 800 miles away in Jerusalem read Jeremiah and Lamentations. Also the book of Daniel is required reading for all who can read and have a copy. It's from the same time period, but from the palace in Babylon, not from an internment camp.
“Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. “Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.”
So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.
Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. “And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. “I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. “But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.“ (2:15-27)
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth 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.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Son of man, they who inhabit those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.’
“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “You eat meat with blood, you lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood. Should you then possess the land? “You rely on your sword, you commit abominations, and you defile one another’s wives. Should you then possess the land?” ’
“Say thus to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “As I live, surely those who are in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and the one who is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and caves shall die of the pestilence. “For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through. “Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.” ’
“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’
“So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. “And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
The irony of Ezekiel’s life after 586 BC was that his people found him an entertaining speaker but not a man to be taken seriously! He is thought to have died at Babylon about 570 BC about age 52. Chapters 34-48 of Ezekiel contain some of the most important advanced disclosures of history found in the Old Testament.
Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians in 539 BC, but the prophet Daniel went on to serve them for at least a year. The total time of the Jewish exile in Babylon was 70 years. The return in 515 BC is detailed in Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi.
Ezekiel and the Destruction of Jerusalem
Ezekiel: Fourteen Messages
Jehoshaphat defeats the Porn Kings
The Gog/Magog Invasion
Belshazzar's Last Meal
The Conversion of Nebuchadnezzar
Music: By the Waters of Babylon
For further details on Ezekiel and Daniel see Ray Stedman's message, God Rules
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February 18, 2021