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Summary: Chastisement but still no Condemnation...

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1. During WW II 6 Navy pilots left their aircraft carrier on a mission. After searching the seas for every submarine, they tried to return to their ship shortly after dark. But the captain had ordered a blackout of all lights on the ship. Over and over the frantic pilots radioed, asking for just one light so they could see to land. But the request was denied and the pilots were forced to crash into the Ocean.

2. Israel felt like those pilots, even though their captivity was due to their sins, they felt abandoned by God.

3. God Chastises but he never Abandons.

Trans: Ezk. 1:1-28

I. FIRST, THE CAPTIVES.

A. A Priest named Ezekiel.

“1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, 3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.” (Ezek 1:1-3)

“in the thirtieth year” – Most believe that this refers to the 30th year Ezekiel’s life. Being of the priestly family, he was no doubt studying, preparing for the priesthood. All of a sudden all of his plans, dreams, and aspirations came to an end as he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

thirtieth year -- that is, counting from the beginning of the reign of Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, the era. of the Babylonian empire, 625 B.C., which epoch coincides with the eighteenth year of Josiah, that in which the book of the law was found, and the consequent reformation began [SCALIGER]; or the thirtieth year of Ezekiel's life. As the Lord was about to be a "little sanctuary" (Eze 11:16) to the exiles on the Chebar, so Ezekiel was to be the ministering priest; therefore he marks his priestly relation to God and the people at the outset; the close, which describes the future temple, thus answering to the beginning. By designating himself expressly as "the priest" (Eze 1:3), and as having reached his thirtieth year (the regular year of priests commencing their office), he marks his office as the priest among the prophets. Thus the opening vision follows naturally as the formal institution of that spiritual temple in which he was to minister [FAIRBAIRN].

The fourth (month) was mid-June to mid-July, reckoning from the first month, mid-March to mid-April.

B. The Predicament.

“captives” – “During Ezekiel’s life and ministry. Israel [the Northern Kingdom] was corrupt politically and spiritually. Their idolatry led to captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

The leadership of Judah [the Southern Kingdom] eventually fell into the idolatry of neighboring nations. The people refused to heed the prophets reminders about the curses and blessings promised by God in the Mosaic Covenant. Ezekiel prophesied that there would come catastrophe and captivity for Judah and Jerusalem.”

“In 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar smashed through the Egyptian defenses at Carchemish and pursued the fleeing forces to the very borders of Egypt. King Jehoiakim thus willingly gave allegiance to serve as a vassal king for Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar solidified his rule over this newly acquired territory by appointing kings and taking “hostages” to assure continued loyalty. During this first campaign Daniel was taken captive to Babylon. Later Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, but by December 598 Nebuchadnezzar’s army took Jerusalem, during this attack Jehoiakim died and his son Jehoiachin was placed on the throne. Seeing the folly of opposing Babylon he surrendered in March 597.

Jehoiachin after a three month reign was deported to Babylon and his uncle Zedekiah was placed on the throne as a vassal king. It was this deportation of Jehoiachin along with 10,000 others that Ezekiel was taken to a settlement by the River Chebar.

Zedekiah was weak and vacillating and mistakenly revolted against Babylon as a result the Babylonian army surround Jerusalem and in July-Aug 586 BC., destroyed the city.”

[Dyer]

C. The Placement.

“by the river Chebar” - A river of Mesopotamia Ezek 1:1;Ezek 1:3;Ezek 3:15Ezek 3:23; Ezek 10:15; Ezek 10:22; Ezek 43:3.

“The Chebar river was a man-made canal used for irrigation. This canal brought water from the Euphrates River for use in agricultural irrigation.”

“Ezekiel minister in Babylon, at Tel Abib near the Chebar River. This is southeaster section of modern Iraq, northwest of the Persian Gulf. The Babylonians settled the Jewish exiles in this region to colonize them.” [Nelson Study Bible]

“By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. 2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. 3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" 4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! 6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth-- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. 7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, "Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation!" 8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! 9 Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!” (Psalms 137:1-9)

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