Week 47 – Book of Jeremiah
Read: Jeremiah Chapter 47
“Like Jeremiah, Zechariah, and John the Baptist, Ezekiel was called by God from being a priest to serving as a prophet.” Their fathers, called as priests, would suggest a culture-assumed role for their sons, but each follows God’s individual calling. A prophet of God to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, Ezekiel brings God’s message, exposing their sins and idolatries, but also, revealing God’s glorious future for them. Ezekiel, born in Jerusalem during the earliest years of Jeremiah’s ministry, likely hears Jeremiah’s prophesies. Daniel (620-540) and Ezekiel (620-570) become two great Jewish prophets in exile. “Quite possibly King Zedekiah’s visit to Babylon (Jer. 51:59-61) and the arrival of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles (Jer 29) both occurred the year Ezekiel received his call.”
Like in Jeremiah’s ministry, Babylon had many false prophets who offer false hope for the Jewish exiles. The captivity, despite the untrue talk, is to be 70 years. Scripture introduces Ezekiel as a prophet kept in captivity, called to proclaim God’s truth. “In 593 BC, six years before the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel receives his first of a series of 14 visions” during a ministry spanning 22 years, “until as his last prophetic vision in 571 BC.” Married but widowed (Ez 24:15-27), Ezekiel means God strengthens. Taken to Babylon in 597 BC, these captives find themselves in great distress, and Ezekiel delivers God’s messages of judgment and restoration.
“Although he was a priest (Ez 1:3), he served as a Jewish ‘street preacher’ in Babylon for 22 years” telling and retelling about God’s judgment and restoration, calling for the people to repent and obey. Ezekiel predicts the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, God’s judgment on other nations, and foretells the blessings of restoration by a faithful God. Bold describes Ezekiel’s witness to his fellow captives in this foreign land. He calls the people to remember God, remember the truth of God, and remember the power and love of God. “While Jeremiah was prophesying in Jerusalem that the city would soon fall, Ezekiel was giving the same message to the captives who were already in Babylon.”
Living in one of the darkest times of Judah’s history, the people face great difficulties and feel grave despair. Despite God’s decades of warnings, the people fail to respond. Ezekiel proclaims God’s sovereignty and how He will use “the disaster to create a new people of God.” Either from denial or despair and maybe both, the Jewish people nearly lose “their identity as a people of God.” God uses Ezekiel to deliver His warnings and comfort, even to those weary and worn exiles. “God’s people emerged from that catastrophic century robust and whole.”
God’s judgment on the nations continues with Philistia, land of the Philistines. These “Aegean people who migrated to the southern coast of Palestine in the late 13th and early 12th century B.C.E. and became one of the Israelites’ fiercest rivals” have Biblical ancestors called the Casluhites (Gen. 10:14). Solomon rules the land from the Euphrates River and “to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt.” (1 Kings 4:21) Gaza, in verse one, is a Philistine city. This chapter suggests the Pharaoh has conquered Gaza at some point. Scholars debate when this takes place. “This prophecy, foretelling the desolation of Philistia by Babylon, was fulfilled 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar took Judah.”
The enemy’s reference in verse 3, “rise from the north”, would be the Babylonians. Images that men will “cry out” and “galloping hoofs of his stallions” and enemy “chariots” paint a picture of great despair. Even their allies, Tyre and Sidon, cannot help them.
“The Philistines (philisti, meaning “to wander, immigrants”) were one of the groups of sea peoples who made their way in ancient times to the coast of Canaan. They were the remnant people of the coastland of Caphtor, the ancient name for Crete.” Ashkelon, noted in verse 5, is mentioned in 1 Samuel 6:17-18 during the capture of the Philistines. This Philistine city, located between Jaffa and Gaza near the Mediterranean Sea, is also destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. “Archaeological evidence of layers of ash, broken pottery, and human remains reveals the destruction of Ashkelon at this time.” The shaving of heads and gashing of themselves suggests expressions of grief.
“While the day of the Lord and the judgment on that day will be incomparably horrific, the magnificence of God’s restoration of all those from every nation who put their trust in Christ will be an incomparable wonder.” God sets the appointments.
Reflection – First Sunday of Advent ~ Expectation!
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Advent offers us time to refocus on the promise, birth, redemption, and return of Christ. The Christmas season brings lights and gifts, love and joy; it retells the stories of prophets and angels, shepherds and magi, Mary and Jesus. All the wonders of Christmas open our imaginations to promises and possibilities. From before time until time to come, God embraces us with hope.
During Advent, we light four candles, one each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Some say they symbolize the four centuries of waiting, of silence between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. Some name them hope, love, joy, and peace, while others remember prophets, Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels. What we call them is not so important. How we spend these four weeks IS! This journey of spiritual celebration begins with understanding God's infinite love and His desire for each one to experience everlasting life.
This week celebrate expectation as you consider God's magnificent plan to bring reconciliation to His people. After God creates mankind, the history of rebellion begins. From the beginning, God recognizes the spiritual needs of people and promises Jesus. Prophets foretell of His coming throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, John the Baptist fulfills OT prophecy and introduces Jesus. Remember the thousands of years of endings and new beginnings, the thousands of years of waiting, the thousands of years of hope. Begin today, to seek the possibilities of God, to see endings as opportunities for God to bring new beginnings. Hope!
God’s prophecies and plans show “extensive knowledge of each country’s geographic features, political alliances, military capabilities, religious worship, and besetting sins”
Think about these people. How are they like you and me? What are their sins? Are their sins the same as ours? God desires all of us to be reconciled to Him.
 Wiersbe Study Bible Intro to Ezekiel
 Chronological Life Application Study Bible Introduction to Ezekiel
 The Message Study Bible Introduction to Ezekiel
 Halley’s Bible Handbook Jeremiah Chapter 47
 Moody Bible Commentary
 Gospel Transformation Study Bible notes Jeremiah Chapter 47
 ESV Literary Study Bible Notes