- Religion and Philosophy
Ezekiel Makes Predictions
The Babylonian Prophet
Bad Predictions for Jerusalem
The Babylonians didn't do away with Jerusalem without a prelude. Prior to the total destruction, they took some of the residents to their own town 500 miles to the east. One who made that journey was Ezekiel. While in Babylon, Ezekiel wrote his famous book which, in Chapters 34 to 36, made references to the coming of a certain person, a messiah, in years to come in the future. This is why the Book of Ezekiel is emphasized in the Christian version of what they term the "Old" Testament of the Bible. About 30 years before the Babylonians finally made a total destruction of the City of David, Jerusalem, Ezekiel and other upper class residents of that city were captured and marched off to Babylon. At that time Ezekiel was only 25 years old but already was a highly learned priest. While in Babylon, Ezekiel sought to encourage the exiled Jews and give them faith that one day their great nation would rise up again, but he did predict accurately that Jerusalem would be destroyed first for the sins of corruption of the majority of the people there.
The Book of Ezekiel is written somewhat in the style of Saint John's Apocalypse, as a vision, almost like a surrealistic dream full of symbolism to convey the predictions of the future. For example, in Chapters 2 and 3 Ezekiel is told to eat a holy book. This has been interpreted by Christians to mean that they are to consume the Word of God and make it part of their daily lives. As always in the Bible, idolatry is condemned and given as sufficient cause for God to devastate Israel for this transgression. (Ch 6) Just as in the Book of Isaiah, false prophets are also condemned, leaving Ezekiel as the true prophet. (Ch 13) Ezekiel predicts that after famine, ravages by beasts, war, and pestilence, a little bit of Jerusalem's population will survive to carry on (Ch 14) but the people will be scattered. (Ch 17) The sin and corruption of Israel, writes Ezekiel, has spread to her prophets, priests, and princes, and will be punished by God. (Ch 22)
As in the Book of Isaiah, there is also prophesy against other powerful nations including Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistines, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, and Assyria. (Ch 25-33) It seems true that almost every powerful nation on earth has fallen sooner or later. In Chapter 34 Ezekiel talks of "one shepherd" being God's "servant David" who will care for God's people like a shepherd for his flock. The Christians feel Ezekiel was talking about Jesus, who was a distant descendant of King David. In Chapter 36 Ezekiel predicts that Israel will be restored some day. The temple will be rebuilt, predicts Ezekiel, who gives many specific instructions on its layout and on the future of the practice of Judaism in the city. (Chs 40 to 48)
This was a hard time for the Hebrew people. The Book of Ezekiel has been preserved through the centuries for more than 2600 years. Why were so many books of the Bible preserved? Surely other nations had books as well. There must have been some respect for the Jewish religion by the nations that conquered Israel throughout all these centuries leading up to the time that the Romans adopted Christianity as the official religion of their empire. The respect of the various conquerors throughout history would explain why we have the Bible still in existence today, and suggest that the Jewish people really were the Chosen people of God to write the books of the Bible and show through their faith that they truly worshiped the invisible God that most of the world believes in, even today.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims Honor Ezekiel
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah was a poor person compared with Ezekiel, who was respected by many pious people in Jerusalem. After the captivity, certain men approached him and asked whether they should worship the Babylonian god rather than the one true God of Israel. Ezekiel didn't know exactly what to say. God later gave Ezekiel a message (through mental telepathy) saying that Ezekiel should allow the men to make up their own minds, but that God would not abandon them.
The Jewish faith honors Ezekiel for his great miracle of bring certain dead people back to life. The Babylonian king was ruthless to the Jews, full of wrath and hatred toward them. He had them murdered by the hundreds. But having faith in the ability of God through Ezekiel to bring them back to life, the Hebrews went valiantly to their deaths.
To the Christians, Ezekiel was a saint. The references made by Ezekiel in his book in the Bible can be interpreted as prophesies of the coming of Jesus into the world centuries later.
Muslims also honor Ezekiel as a great prophet. They recognize that the spiritual life of the Hebrews was what must have held them together after their physical world was destroyed by the Babylonians, and that Ezekiel was a key person in keeping this spirit alive during the captivity. Muslims believe that Ezekiel's birth itself was something of a miracle, his mother having been of advanced age, but having prayed to God for a child. From accounts in the Bible, Ezekiel must have been born in or around the year 622 B.C. (for further reading, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezekiel)