Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ezekiel 12 - Backpacking into Exile

LINK: Ezekiel 12


BACKGROUND

God told Ezekiel to pack his bag for exile and dig a hole through the wall of the city in order to communicate to His rebellious people that punishment was certain. The escape at night with a cover over Ezekiel's face was to predict Zedekiah's attempt to escape through a break in the city wall followed by his capture. This was fulfilled in 586 B.C. After an attempt at escape, Zedekiah was taken to Nebuchadnezzar, forced to watch his sons slaughtered and blinded. He spent the rest of his days in prison (2 Kings 25:3-7; Jeremiah 52:10,11).

The few exiles who were spared would be scattered among the nations and eventually come to "know that [He] is the LORD" (key repeated phrase: 12:16, 20).

Ezekiel was also to tremble as he ate food and shudder as he drank water (12:18) to illustrate the terror that the people of Jerusalem were about to experience.

Exile was inevitable, and Ezekiel delivered five messages between 12:21-14:23, with two of them being in this chapter. They were meant to leave no doubt in the people's mind that judgment was coming and to destroy their false optimism.

The first message (12:21-25) was given to combat the false proverb that the people were quoting that said "The days go by and every vision comes to nothing." A proverb was "a terse expression of a commonly held or self-evident truth" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 1250). This proverb was the exact opposite of the truth. The false prophets were wrong! (I suppose that is why they are called false prophets.) God said, "The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled."

The second message (12:26-28) was given to combat against the statement that the prophecies were in the distant future, but God combated this by saying, "None of My words will be delayed any longer" (12:28).

God was true to His word, Jerusalem was destroyed less than six years later!

REFLECTION

Ezekiel walking out into the night with the pack on his back reminded me of the show, Survivor.

On this show, contestants who think they might be voted out by their fellow tribe members pack their bags and bring them to Tribal Council. Some do not pack their bags because they are confident that they will not be voted out only to be "blind-sided" through tribal trickery and deception. Most pack their bags though because you "never know" in the game of Survivor.

When a contestant is voted out, his or her torch is extinguished and the host, Jeff Probst, proclaims, "The tribe has spoken. It is time for you to go." The familiar, sad music plays; and most of the time, the ejected member walks off in stunned silence into the darkness carrying his or her pack.

Unlike Survivor, there is no trickery or deception. God's words through Ezekiel were plain and clear: "They will go into exile as captives." It was time to pack their bags . . .

Yet, they still would not listen.

APPLICATION

This Old Testament reading and the confirmation of history should assure all of us that ALL that God says is sure to happen.

Jesus is going to return for His bride. Are you ready (Revelation 19:7)?

PRAYER

Lord, we know in all our hearts and all our souls that not one word of all the good words which You have spoken concerning us will fail; all will be fulfilled for us, not one of them will fail (Joshua 23:14). Help us to walk by faith and not by sight and protect us from false teachers. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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