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Why is the Biblical history of Israel important to Christians? What is the lesson we can learn from it to make our lives purposeful and better? The book of Ezekiel leads us to some life transforming answers.
Ezekiel and other Israelites had been captured from Jerusalem by the Babylonians after a war that Israel lost. While the princes of Israel like Daniel were taken to King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace, common people like Ezekiel were taken to a place called Tel Abib by River Chebar (Kebar). If Jerusalem was a land of milk and honey, Tel Abib was a place of bitter medicine; so the Israelites wept big sorrowful tears. Why did this happen to them and what is the lesson for us?
Ezekiel 5:5-10 (Easy-To-Read Version Bible) (shortened) says: “Then the Lord God said… I put Jerusalem in the middle of other nations… The people rebelled against my commands… They broke more of my laws than any of the people in the countries around them… So the Lord God says… I will punish you while those other people watch. I will do things to you that I have never done before. And I will never do those terrible things again… People in Jerusalem will be so hungry that parents will eat their own children, and children will eat their own parents. I will punish you in many ways, and those who are left alive, I will scatter to the winds.”
God put Israel in the middle of the world, to be his ambassadors, representatives of truth and light to all the world – we see this plan revealed clearly in Deuteronomy. Israel became wealthy and forgot the reason for their existence. Instead of being missionaries for truth, goodness, fairness, and worship of God, they started practicing idolatry, child sacrifice, occult sex magic, fetish fashion clothing, and injustice against the poor and the weak – the book of Isaiah reveals these misbehaviors.
Ezekiel Chapters 4 to 24 explains why Israel was being given very bitter medicine. It took 70 years of hospitalization in Babylon before Israel was able to go back to Jerusalem and worship God with truth and sincerity and zeal again as recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Bitter medicine is painful to swallow but the purpose is not to kill the patient, it is to return the patient to good health!
Ezekiel shows how much God invested, in keeping Israel on track to deliver Jesus to the world. Israel has played a huge role in advancing heaven’s purpose to establish a better world on earth. When they rebelled and forgot their purpose, God brought them back through corrective discipline. The book of Ezekiel is an important record of God’s hard work of yesterday that built the foundation of our Christian life today. Next week we will do a character study of the man Ezekiel.
Lord thank you for Ezekiel and his life changing message to us, Amen!