Ezekiel was a prophet to Judah as she was in exile in Babylon. Jehoiachin had taken the throne of Judah at eighteen years old, succeeded his father Jehoiakim after his death (2 Kings 24:8) in 598B.C. Jehoiachin surrendered the city of Jerusalem almost immediately. Ezekiel was among those taken into exile in 597B.C. when Jehoiachin, his mother, wives, officials and other leading men of the land were taken. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah ruler over Judah. The prophet Daniel was already in Babylon from the first siege of 605B.C.
Ezekiel was of a priestly line but was taken captive prior to serving as a priest. There is nothing known of his life prior to his ministry as a prophet. The Lord called him as a prophet to Judah in captivity. His ministry was from 595-574B.C. He speaks and ministers as a man of resolve, uncompromising when handling the truth. He was subject to the will of God, this wasn't something new. He had grown up during the reforms of Josiah and had likely heard preaching, teaching and prophesying of Jeremiah. Since then he had seen those reforms abandoned and immorality and idolatry explode. There is a legend that Ezekiel was Jeremiah's secretary. There is no biblical evidence of this, nor is there any other kind of evidence, but it is a fascinating thought.
In the fall of 586B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed after Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was captured and blinded after watching his son's execution. The bible classifies this phase of captivity and judgment as 'all' of Judah was taken into captivity.
Ezekiel helped the Jews in exile understand the nature of God, he'll do the same for us. He'll teach them the reason, purpose and desired outcome of His judgment against them. He'll ask the people to search their own heart and surrender it to the Lord. The collective state of the individual hearts determined the ethical, religious and moral past, leading to judgment. These same things determined their present state and would also indicate the future of Israel. The Lord promised a time of restoration leading into the millennial kingdom.
- Bring them to the complete understanding of why they were exiled,
- Dispel the false hope that the captivity was going to be short
- Set the new message of hope on the horizon.
- Teach people to depend on God.
The words of Ezekiel were spoken in the past, in regards to the past. Yet, they were spoken to fallen man by our eternal, unchanging God in the midst of a plethora of false prophets telling the people what they wanted to hear. That makes these words, principals and ideas very relevant to us today. The people of that day found their carnal and short-sighted lives led them to exile and they were drawn to the false prophets rather than the truth. We see that exact thing happening today, in our time. Ezekiel is going to teach about faith in a kingdom unseen; one that is just over the horizon of time. Not yet visible but more real than any kingdom they had ever known.
The name Ezekiel means 'May God Strengthen'. I hope God strengthens you by his words.
Ezekiel is a Watchman