Ezekiel is writing from a bad situation to more than 10,000 fellow Jews in the same situation. They’re all exiled a thousand-mile walk from home and living in the heart of the Babylonian Empire, in what is now Iraq.
Babylon had already invaded the Jewish nation twice. Fist in 605 B.C. That was to introduce themselves as the new world superpower replacing. Assyria, which they had just crushed. They also took the occasion to demand that the Jews send them tax money each year. The Babylonians came again eight years later, in 597 BC. They did this to collect their taxes after the Jewish king decided to stop sending money.
It was during this second invasion that Babylon took thousand of Jews with them, Ezekiel included. Political prisoners, of sorts, many were free to live as they pleased in Babylon-as long as they didn’t try to go home.
Ezekiel is a priest, which means he now has nothing to do. The work of the priest takes place in the Jerusalem temple, which for Ezekiel is a long and forbidden commute. But God gives him a new job. Ezekiel becomes a prophet to the Jewish exiles.
Boiled down to the basics, Ezekiel’s message has two points:
- God is going to allow the Babylonians to destroy what remains of the Jewish nation and to exile most Jews who survive the onslaught.
- God will eventually send the Jews back home to rebuild their nation to levels of glory never seen before.