Ezekiel is a prophet in exile. During the first wave of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Jerusalem, Ezekiel was one of the many who were taken captive and transported to the land of Babylon. The situation was bad, but all wasn’t lost. Jerusalem was still standing. More importantly, the temple was still standing. For those in exile, there was hope that that their stay in Babylon would be short-lived. Word had gotten to them that there was even a prophet back in Jerusalem saying so.
And that’s where the book of Ezekiel opens. God appears to Ezekiel and commissions him as a watchman. As one who will stand and bear truthful witness to the judgment that God is about to bring upon his unfaithful and unclean people. And so Ezekiel is given the unenviable task of dashing the exiles’ false hopes. Of foretelling Jerusalem's destruction. And, in time, it all comes to pass. Zedekiah (whom Nebuchadnezzar has set up as a puppet king in Jerusalem) revolts. Nebuchadnezzar responds by bringing in his armies and leveling the city. Pulling down its walls. And burning the temple to the ground.
And so, the question for the exiles becomes, “Is God through with us?” I mean, how can you be a nation without a land? How can you worship without a temple? How can you call yourself the chosen people when your God has so clearly rejected you?
Sometimes we ask this question. We look at the wreckage that our sin and unfaithfulness has produced. Ruined relationships. Burned bridges. Fractured families. As the smoke rises from the destruction we’ve caused by our selfishness, we sit in the ash heap, and weep bitter tears of regret over years we’ll never get back, relationships that will never be healed, and guilt that seems as though it can never be forgiven. We ask, is God through with me? Can he ever bring me back from this self-inflicted exile? Does he even want to bother?
Hear the word of the Lord:
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies’ lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”
God has accomplished all of this. In Christ, God has reconciled you. He has brought you back. He has given you peace. You no longer have to live as an exile because of your sin. Confess it. Be forgiven. Come on home.