A Look at Truly Tragic Times — The Psalm says it all…
1By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? 5If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. 6May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. —Psalm 137:1-6 NIV
God speaks to His children in captivity through the prophet Ezekiel…
– Ezekiel 1:2-3, “2On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him.”
– Ezekiel 3:17, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
God’s message through Ezekiel in three points:
1) Jerusalem must fall—1-24…
– Ezekiel 7:23-27, “23Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. 24I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. 25When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. 26Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. 27The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
2) The nations (who moved against Israel) must fall—25-32…
– Ezekiel 25:6-7, “6For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, 7therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
3) Israel will be restored—33-48…
– Ezekiel 36:33-38, “33 ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’ 37“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, 38as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
Make no mistake about it, you can bank on this prophesy! To underscore this prophecy, God describes Israel’s revival in three stages…
1) Israel’s awakening, 37:1-14
2) Israel’s uniting, 37:15-28
3) Israel’s security, 38 & 39
Above all else, Israel must know that EVEN in cases of divine wrath for wickedness there is always hope—hope made sure, because God is the one making the promises!
This is made certain with a graphic vision of Israel’s awakening…
– Ezekiel 37:1-14, “1The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” 7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 11Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
What does this prophesy have to teach us?
1) Their vividly depicted spiritual condition—they were disjointed; disrespected; discarded and disregarded—does not prevent God from desiring their revival and restoration. It is the same for us!
2) Sometimes we’ve gotta’ get outside our comfort zones in order to see what God can do.
3) Our hearts are revealed by how we choose to look at things. Example: Can these bones live?
4) When God’s word guides our prayers, God’s working will be unmistakable in our lives.
5) God turns tragedy to triumph, bringing hope to those who are in despair!
© Bill Williams
May 23, 2007