August 5, 2018
And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.
– Ezekiel 25:17
A Brief Timeline
- 721-722BC - Israel (Northern Kingdom) falls to the Assyrians.
- 612BC - Ninevah, an Assyrian city falls to the Babylonians and the Medes.
- 609BC - Egyptian Pharaoh Neco II goes to assist the Assyrians. King Josiah (Judah - Southern Kingdom) attempts to intercept but is defeated.2 Kings 23:31
Josiah is killed. His body is taken to Jerusalem for burial. The people living in the land quickly annointed Jehoahaz, Josiah's son, as his successor. Jehoahaz was 23 years old and would only rule for 3 months. Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in chains and hauled him back to Egypt where he would die. The Egyptian also levied a tax on the people of the land, 100 talents of silver and 1 talent of gold, possibly in response to their support for Jehoahaz. Neco made one of Josiah's other sons, Eliakim (name means, God has established) king of Judah and changed his name to Jehoiakim (name mean, Yahweh has established). Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king and would rule for 11 years.
- 605BC - Babylonians defeated the Egyptian army at Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar ascends to king and proceeds to conquer "Hatti-country", a Babylonian designation that includes the city of Judah. Jehoiakim shifts his allegiance to Babylon. It is at this time Daniel is exiled to Babylon. Daniel 1:1 Nebuchadnezzar would return west over then next couple of years seeking tribute from all the kings of "Hatti-land".
- 601BC - Nebuchadnezzar engages Egypt again and was repulsed by a strong Egyptian army. This may have been what encouraged Jehoiakim to change his mind and rebell against Babylon.
Interestingly, this change of heart by Jehoiakim was in direct defiance of a prophecy delivered by Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 27:8-12 8 “‘“But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, declares the Lord, until I have consumed it by his hand. 9 So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ 10 For it is a lie that they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish. 11 But any nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, to work it and dwell there, declares the Lord.”’”
- 597BC - Nebuchadnezzar responded to Jehoiakim's betrayal with a seige on Jerusalem. Jehoiachin (Jehoiakim's son) and about 10,000 Jews including Ezekiel were exiled to Babylon where they joined the Jews that had been exiled in 605BC. Nebuchadnezzar placed Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem. He would rebel in a few years.
- 588BC - After Zedekiah's rebellion, Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem and in 586, the walls were breached and the city was plundered. On August 14, 586 the city and temple were burned.
Now back to Ezekiel
- The name Ezekiel means "God is Strong" or "God Strengthens".
- All knowledge of Ezekiel comes his book. He is not mentioned elsewhere in the bible. While this is true, the events described in Ezekiel are alluded to in Revelations
- Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah
- Ezekiel was son of Buzi the priest. Being from a priestly family, he likely grew up serving in the temple and with knowledge of religious matters. His call to prophecy came at age thirty while he was in exile in Babylon.
I thought this point was interesting. Ezekiel is 30 when he is commissioned by God but was 25 when exiled with King Jehoiachin. Looking back at Numbers:
Numbers 4:3 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.
Numbers 8:24 24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting,
- Despite his captivity, Ezekiel lived relatively free existence; he was married and had his own home by the Kebar river in Tel-Abib. His exile began eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
- Ezekiel call to prophecy began with a vision of God coming from the north being preceeded by 4 cherubim - each with the face of a man, lion, ox, and eagle and 4 wings and beside each cherubim, a wheel in a wheel covered in eyes. God commissions Ezekiel to be Israel's Watchman, "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites" Ezekiel 2:3
- The book of Ezekiel follows a pattern similar to other prophetic books: Prophecy against Jews followed by prophecy against the nations repressing the Jews followed by prophecy of a hopeful future. Of course they are all referring to the same events.
- The book of Ezekiel is unique in that it contains more dates than any other Old Testament Prophetic book allowing the prophecies to be dated with considerable precision. Additionally, the book is (mostly) written in chronological order.
The Visions of Ezekiel
- The initial vision: God rides in on his chariot preceded by cherubim.
- The temple: God leaves the temple because of man's sinful practices.
- Israel depicted as a prostitute.
- The valley of dry bone dreams. Israel will come back from the dead.
- The destruction of Gog and Magog, Israel's enemies.
- The new Jerusalem, the new temple, and the return of God's Presence.
FYI - Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction came out in 1994, and popularized a fictitious 'quote' from Ezekiel 25:17:
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children, And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers, and you will know My name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
Ezekiel 25:17 is much shorter and actually works:
Ezekiel 25:17 17 And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.