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May 21, 2007 / Daniel

Ezekiel and the end of the exile

Ezekiel 38 and 39 have always been just a big mystery to me.  Let’s face it.  Ezekiel is not exactly ideal devotional material.  He was kind of a weird dude, shaving his head, running around with a frying pan, cooking over poop.    But when I realized just how  horrible the exile must have been to him and his contempories, his book started to make some sense to me.  The exile was a Holocaust experience.  A nation invaded and destroyed.  A temple burnt down.  Add to that the fact that the Babylonians forced them to leave their homes and head to a foriegn land over 500 miles away. 

The book of Ezekiel seeks to answer the question of why did the exile happen.  Not only that, but Ezekiel also envisions a day when God will, in fact, restore the nation of Israel and end their exile.   God promised Ezekiel that Israel would have a new Davidic king and a new Temple in which God’s Shekinah Glory would dwell.  Israel will have their land back and God would enable them to keep His laws by giving them His Spirit.

But one question still remained, “When God does actually restored Israel, what’s to keep the exile from happening again? What’s to keep Israel from breaking the covenant again and winding up kicked out of their land again? Could the tragic events of 586 BC be repeated?”  I think that’s the question that Ezekiel answers in Ezekiel 38-39.   Ezekiel envisions a day when another tyrant, like Nebuchadnezzer only worst, would come up against Israel.  The tyrant, Gog and Magog, brings all sorts of evil cohorts with him in order to destroy Israel.

But it’s not going to work.  Because when God finally does restore Israel and end their exile, it’s going to last!   This enemy gets wiped out completely.   Look at the last section of chapter 39.

25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

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