The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 23
In 586 BC, the king of Babylon invades Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah, and takes many of the Jews captive to his capitol city in Babylon. In the midst of this turmoil, God raises up and speaks through prophets to lead His people.
Among the captives of Babylon, Ezekiel prophesies about God’s return to His people. In the royal courts of Babylon and, later, Persia, Daniel prophesies about the Son of Man who will rule in Heaven.
In Judah, Jeremiah prophesies that God’s people will return to their land after 70 years. He calls the people to trust God and not to run away to Egypt. Jeremiah tells the people that God has plans of peace for them rather than calamity, to give them a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). They are to go willingly into captivity. Sadly, King Zedekiah and those in Jerusalem ignore Jeremiah to their own destruction. Those remaining after the temple’s destruction flee to Egypt.
Ezekiel prophesies against Egypt for their arrogance and for their embracing the remnant of Israelites who fled from the Babylonians. God promises to “diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore” (Ez. 29:15) and to give them over to the Babylonians, “I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor, because they worked for Me” (29:20). His rule over the nations will demonstrate to Israel that Yahweh is the LORD (30:8).
What does the captivity of Judah reveal about God?
- God warns His people about the consequences of disobedience nearly a thousand years earlier.
- God promises to bless those who surrender to the Babylonians and to bring them back to Judah after seventy years.
- God promises to punish all three nations, Judah, Babylon and Egypt, for their pride.
- God raises up prophets who faithfully warn Israel (and the nations) of imminent judgment.
- God sends a remnant from Judah to Babylon to preserve them.
- God raises up Babylon as the sword that He will use against His disobedient people.
- God keeps His promises of judgment.
- God shows mercy to His people even in the midst of judgment.
- God does not forget His people; rather, He sends prophets to speak to them and give them comfort.
- God rules over all the nations of the earth, including rogue pagan nations.
- God will resolve man’s problem by replacing his heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
Out of the darkest days of Israel’s history come some of the brightest promises of redemption and restoration. Jeremiah speaks of Judah’s return. Ezekiel speaks of the new covenant. Daniel speaks of the destruction of the nations and lives to see the demise of Babylon and the return of a remnant of the Jews to their land.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ez. 24:15-25:17; 29:1-16; 30:20-31:18; Jer. 34:1-22; 21:1-14):
Throughout Ezekiel’s ministry the LORD instructs him to use visuals as teaching tools. What do the death of Ezekiel’s wife and his response reveal to Israel?
Review Exodus 21:2, 3, 7-8. Ezekiel reminds Israel of God’s command regarding enslaving their brethren for longer than seven years. What does their disobedience cost them?
What does the LORD do to prevent Zedekiah from avoiding captivity by aligning Judah with Egypt?