Lamentations 5 – Ezekiel 3
We are in the Prophetic Stream starting the final book for the stream this year. We are reading from the God’s Word Translation.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord Jesus, let us be quick to confess, slow to blame, and attentive to you as Ezekiel was. You do call us to speak for you, to be a testament to your good plans for us. Amen.
Lam.5 – If Charles Dickens had written Lamentations, it would open, “it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times – indeed, it was the worst of times.” Jerusalem is unrecognizable. It’s a slave camp gone into complete dismay. The fires of the city and the siege have died, yes, but the ash is still everywhere. It was a horror that had simply changed chapters. The occupying enemies have now taken charge and are working them to a stupor; to exhaustion. Meals are not enjoyed. They are struggled for, scraping together meager bits to barely subsist. Food in Judah was like water in the desert: more scorching heat than worth but still fought for just to live. Luxuries, amenities, simple comforts and pleasures are of not these days. The Babylonians were raping at will. Hebrews were being tortured. Let’s just say, “the music had died.” Life was nothing but a dirge. Yet as the book nearly closes, Jeremiah acknowledges that God is God and nothing is going to change that. He also is keenly aware that life in Jerusalem and Judea was wretched these days. The odd matter is that the Judeans do not seem confessional. They are not penitent at this stage of the game. God did not have an anger problem. They have had a disobedience problem and they were reaping what they had sowed.
Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C., during the second Babylonian strike at Judah. Jerusalem had 11 more years before it would be invaded and crushed. Daniel was taken to Babylon (605 B.C.) and was prominent in the palace by now. However, Ezekiel worked (prophesied) in the countryside. He writes his book from the stunning visions he had. In one vision after another, he hears from God, dictates visions for God, and speaks for God sending messages to the future. Some of Ezekiel’s visions hearken forward to generations that are still to come as they yet look forward from today. This is far more than a 2,600 year old book. It accurately tells of what is coming with laser precision. That means Ezekiel is more “up on the news” than what is streaming on the web, now. It’s true. Tune in to this man. He is talking to us.
1 – He begins seeing visions from God and prophesying in 593 B.C.; almost five years after being taken to Babylon, six+ years before Jerusalem fell. The visions begin. They are arriving angels. They are ominous and huge and powerful and cosmic, and have a resemblance to great beasts. They are a w e s o m e !! There’s a platform about the angels. On it is a sapphire throne. All this is within a colossal storm cloud with flashes of fire in it that whirl, such as lightning. [Similar literature is seen in Revelation 4.] All this is setting the stage for Ezekiel commencing upon his 20-year vocation of prophesying for God.
2 – God basically tells Ezekiel to stand at attention and hear what he is to be doing. His life hereon is not going to be a cake-walk. He is speaking to and warning a rebellious people. The environment is going to be hostile but Ezekiel is ‘not to fear’. And he must be sure to not become like the rebels he is addressing. Ezekiel is given a book “to eat…” Meaning he is supposed to completely ingest all of what God is telling him. John has the same assignment in Rev. 10 as he is writing out his visions that are coming down from God ca. 60-90 A.D. some 650+ years later. Both are writing the apocalyptic messages that still have vital teaching for the world. Ezekiel’s assignment of giving messages was good, though the message that had to be delivered was a difficult one to share.
3 – Indeed it was sweet to eat this book as Ezekiel experienced it. This needed to happen for his assignment to address a stubborn people was going to be fraught with suffering. The Lord carried Ezekiel into this ominous calling and set him up as a watchman who would have the responsibility of speaking for God whether the people listened or not; however they responded or refused him or whatever the outcome was. He needed to speak to them God’s message. There was a penalty for not doing so. And there would be times when God demanded silence of Ezekiel. In 3:26; today’s reading, but also in 24:27 and 33:22. Ezekiel must only speak what God has for him to speak; not his own words, nor his own ideas, ever.
And looking ahead, since we are in Ezekiel during the entirety of the prophetic stream the rest of the year, here is what we can expect. Ezekiel is telling of the coming fall of Jerusalem in ch’s 1-24. Next he tells of the surrounding nations; enemies of Jerusalem that will be overthrown; Eze. 25-32. And Ezekiel spends the rest of his book, 33-48, telling of Israel being re-established and its glorious future.