76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 56 - Ezekiel describes his exile to Babylonia.
April 15th, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
Ezekiel ben Buzi was born about 615 B.C., as Flavius Josephus, the historian, tells us in his book, Antiquities of the Jews, (Book 10, Chapt. 6, verse 3), and this is about right, as Ezekiel himself agrees to this approximate date of his birth. For he remembers that when he began to write prophecies in 593 B.C. he was about twenty-two years old. His father, Buzi, was a wealthy priest connected with the Temple in Jerusalem with holdings and estates outside the city, and Ezekiel was born in the hill side country some 15 miles north of Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Ophrah. He was like Jeremiah in this respect, for he was a keen observer. His writings show a love for his native surroundings in a way that surprises us in a prophet who became known for measurement and precision, so characteristic of man’s intellect rather than love of nature and rural environment. Hence his picture of Babylonia as a great eagle, which carries off the top of the cedar (17: 3) of Judah, as a lioness, mother of two whelps (19: 2) or as a vine planted by many waters (19: 10) or as a branch burned at the ends (15: 4). In the same way, in his early work, Ezekiel could not help but think of the northern Kingdom, Israel, lost to the Hebrews, and maintains discreet silence about the nearby local shrine of Beth-el denounced in the reforms of Josiah. We know, of course, that the area, headed by Jericho, had once formed part of the Kingdom of Israel, and thus Ezekiel was interested in the land, and also the people, especially the prophet, Hosea, who belonged to that region.
His affinity to Hosea, which we find later in his book of prophecies, became even greater when his father, Buzi, brought him on several occasions to visit the Temple in Jerusalem, and there he saw evidences of Astarte (Ashtoreth, the fertility goddess), Tammuz, nature myth, and sun worship. Judah had indeed played the harlot, and Ezekiel voiced a tremendous protest. His imagery, if inspired by Hosea, goes far beyond it in coarseness and earthliness. This explains his hatred for those practices and likens it to the filth it represented. From this Ezekiel realized that the preceding prophets of Israel and Judah were right in their conviction that an idol-worshipping Temple and its city were doomed to devastation, and on various trips to Jerusalem when in his teens, he heard Jeremiah speak and became familiar with his prophetic work. Thus Ezekiel knew in his heart that the time was rapidly approaching when Jerusalem would be destroyed, and when it was, he felt that prophecy was fulfilled. The terrible event convinced him beyond any doubt that the prophets were really the spokesmen for God and in time he experienced an urge to declare the things that he felt God wanted to say to His people through him.
The Babylonian master, Nebuchadrezzar, singled him out as a non-conformist Zadokite Temple priest, to depart with his wife to the land of Babylonia, part of several thousand craftsmen workers and soldiers of all kinds, young people of spirit who had dared to rebel. The prisoners started out on a journey of about 700 miles over Arabian desert. It was made on foot, with scanty supplies of food and water, and there were those who died and were buried along the route. The passing of the centuries has stilled the anguish of children and parents torn from each other knowing they would never see each other again. Ezekiel heard them and cried because he too felt the anguish of separation from his parents, while his wife wept bitterly for hers.
In 597 B.C. therefore, Ezekiel and his wife found themselves near Babylon, along the Chebar River, a long and wide canal which branched off from the Euphrates north of the city of Nippur and returned to it some distance below the city, which it passed through on the way southward. The land was low, fertile and irrigated.
The Hebrews, accustomed as they were to the rocky soil of Judah, were amazed at the greenery and easy conditions for agricultural pursuits, and the exiles took this to mean that God, though He had taken them away from the land He had given them, had not entirely forsaken them. The Hebrews thus settled down to craftsmanship, as they had in Jerusalem, and also to agriculture, and as the Babylonians were not as cruel to them as the Egyptians had been, and encouraged by Jeremiah’s pastoral letter, they developed thriving communities and continued to hold to that Jehovah who, even in adversity and travail, was showing His Great Love and Mercy to His children.
For this reason, Ezekiel, as a Temple priest, came to be looked upon as a religious representative of the exiles And if he could not earn a living as a craftsman in business or as a farmer, his needs were provided for to a certain degree by what you might call his parishioners, who looked to him for spiritual comfort and guidance.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens