In the years immediately preceding the destruction of the temple, many leaders among the Jews imagined that a full exile would not happen any time soon. God’s prophet was called to live out the truth of God’s message in front the people of Jerusalem, but so many refused to hear. Ezekiel 12 presented them with three important messages that they did not want to know.
First, exile was coming for King Zedekiah and his subjects. Even strong leaders would eventually pack their bags in fear and try to escape the city during the final siege of the Babylonians. They would dig under the wall in an effort to save their lives. The prophet described what would happen to Zedekiah very precisely. “I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there.” See Jeremiah 52:11 for the horrible fulfillment of these words.
Second, the troubles of the Lord’s people would not only be physical, but also emotional. Ezekiel had to eat bread and drink water with obvious “trembling and with anxiety.” The root cause of this time of the greatest “dismay” would be their own rebellion. Jerusalem would suffer “on account of the violence of all those who dwell in it.”
Finally, the timing of these difficult trials would not be “far off” as some would imagine. “It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the Word and perform it, declares the Lord God.”
The end of the Old Testament world was surely coming. Though there would be several centuries of subjugation prior to the advent of the Messiah, the exile itself would be within a very short period of time. But what about the end of the modern gospel era in which we now live? Does the church in our day give serious enough consideration to the return of the Lord? Do we have “ears to hear” what God has said to us in the Scriptures?
The ultimate “Day of the Lord” is not far away for all who will not love the Word of God. Even if the present world continues for centuries, Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that it is “appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” At just the right time, Jesus will return. When that happens, even the strongest warriors will have such anxiety that they will look like women in the worst pains of childbirth. Though many will live in denial of the justice of God right up to the last moment, that willful ignorance will not change the fact that we all have been warned for many centuries of the imminence of a future reckoning. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand.” The apostle was correct even then.
For those who sincerely rest in Christ and who long for His appearing, we shall never face even a moment of the eternal “exile” that is coming upon the world. Our Savior has conquered death for us. Even now, though some of the Lord’s people may struggle with issues of anxiety, we have the great benefit available to us of what Paul refers to in Philippians 4:7 as “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” Finally, we need not live in turmoil about the specific date of the Lord’s future plans. The blessings that God has reserved for us in the heavens are already ours because of our union with Jesus. We can be content to leave all questions of timing in His very capable hands.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, take away our rebellion. We would claim to have ears and eyes, but we do not hear and see. You have spoken to us in ways that are unmistakably clear, yet Your people have followed their own ways. We repent, O Lord. Speak to us again through Your messengers. Do not cast us away from Your presence. Scatter the enemies who would come against Your church. Gather us together in Your presence. You are the Lord. We thank You for the union that we have with Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God. Bring to an end the preaching of false doctrines among us. Speak a true Word to us and perform it at just the right time. Glorify Your great Name.