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The Prophets Jeremiah & Ezekiel

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God inspired the prophets to tell the people what they needed to know and do in order to follow His will. God inspires the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel to reveal to the Israelites why they will become captives to Babylon, His anger against false prophets, and the restoration of Israel.

In chapter 25 of Jeremiah, Jeremiah is inspired to go out to the people of Judah. The prophets had told the people of Judah earlier, "Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways... and you can stay in the land... Do not worship other gods..."(Jeremiah 25:5-6) He tells them "Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon... and I will bring him against this land..."(Jeremiah 25:9) Jeremiah makes it clear why the Israelites will go into exile; because they didn't follow his commandments. Later Jeremiah states in the very same chapter how long the captivity will last.

Ezekiel too mentions idolatry as the reason for Israel's captivity. In chapter eight he sees numerous examples of idolatry and the sin of Israel. The Lord commands Ezekiel to "Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here" (Ezekiel 8:9). He sees idols and detestable animals. He sees a woman morning for the Tammuz, which is the Babylonian fertility god (Ezekiel 12:31). Ezekiel also sees "twenty-five men... with their backs toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east"(Ezekiel 8:16). God tells him, "I will deal with them in anger, and I will not look on them with pity or spare them"(Ezekiel 8:18). Ezekiel symbolizes the Babylonian exile by exiling himself from Israel, he is instructed to "dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it"(Ezekiel 12:5) Ezekiel is instructed to tell whoever asks him "As I have done so is will be done to them. They will go into exile... the prince among them will put his things on his should at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through..."(Ezekiel 12:11-12) In chapter 23 God uses two sisters, Aholah and Aholibah who symbolize Israel and Judah. They both offered themselves up to prostitution. God says to them, "I will stir up your lovers against you... I will bring them against you from every side... the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, the men of Pekod and the Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians...They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons. (Ezekiel 23:23-24) God says He "will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore"(Ezekiel 23:27). Ezekiel finds that the reasons for Israel's captivity is its idolatry and 'lust' for its former 'lovers.'

False prophets such as the prophet Hananiah tried to persuade the nation into believing that Babylonians would only have Israel in captivity for two years. He states, "This is what the Lord... says: 'I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the Lord's house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin... and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon... for I will break the yoke of Babylon'"(Jeremiah 28:2-4). Hananiah's message is pleasing to the ears. Even Jeremiah wants to believe this and he tells Hananiah, "Amen! May the Lord do so"(Jeremiah 28:6). Even though Hananiah's words contradict what Jeremiah says in chapter 27:16-22 Jeremiah acknowledges that Hananiah is also a prophet of the Lord and wishes that his prophecy will come true. However, God reveals to Jeremiah that Hananiah lied. Jeremiah tells him, "The Lord has sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore... 'I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord'" (Jeremiah 28:15-16) That very year, just as Jeremiah predicts, Hananiah dies. In so doing he pays the price for his lie.

Ezekiel is told to perform acts that symbolize the destruction of Israel. God tells Ezekiel to draw the city of Jerusalem on a clay tablet and lie on your left side of the tablet for 390 days (Ezekiel 4.1-4). The action symbolizes the sins of the Israelites on the Lord's house and 390 days represent the number of days they have sin in the house. Then God tells him to lie on his right side for 40 days for the sin of the house of Judah (Ezekiel 4:6). It is an understatement to say that this would get someone's attention. If you can picture a man lying on his side for 430 days shouting prophecies to the people of Israel and Judah, it would definitely get their attention. Ezekiel performs acts so strange that people simply have to pay attention. In another instance he builds a model of Jerusalem and lays siege to it. It's not unusual to see some kids playing soldiers but to see a grown man playing "Babylonians and Israelites" would get some weird looks. Ezekiel is told to do many other odd and obscure acts. God tells him, "Shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. When the days of siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair with fire inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third into the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword"(Ezekiel 5:1-3). This act symbolizes the destruction of Israel and what will happen to those who survive.




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