23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[my just decrees] 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
This is the Good News. Accompanied with the signs of God Himself.
In the middle of the Babylonians' 2nd push, sweeping the people of Judah into slavery, Ezekiel is taken captive, with the entire court of King Jehoichin. Ezekiel's name means "whom God makes strong" was a priest God raised to the status of prophet. It seems odd that a prophet would predict the destruction of Jerusalem, to us it seems like "an of course it happened", yet it is a prophecy - Ezekiel was in captivity with the Davidic line's true king in Babylon, while in Judah - Nebuchadnezzar's puppet king was on the throne - all seemed to be going according to Nebuchadnezzar's peaceful plan to rule.
Instead Ezekiel tells them of the coming destruction of the country, city & Temple, in Chapter 33. Perhaps an astute political person could have seen the coming devastation. And almost immediately, the last of the Judea is brought in as a defeated nation into slavery. Their homeland in ruins.
It seems impossible that hope would come in the middle of God's judgement, but God does not Abandon His People. Ezekiel tells God's people in the midst of despair, their story does not end in tragedy. God will raise them up in freedom, as a nation, physically and of a coming New Covenant! God's people don't deserve the mercy of God, but His steadfast Love is, once again, bringing slaves into freedom, back to their own country - blessed by God. There is not another nation in the world, so swept apart, in such chains, and put together again and again. At least 4 times, spanning millenniums.
Nebuchadnezzar had plans to just use the Kingdom of Judah as a puppet/revenue state. He didn't plan to tear it all down - but he did. (These are not the actual photos... )
Ezekiel had no reason for this hope, only the Word of God. Jesus also told us about setting our hopes on the Word of God.
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
The rising of the Second Temple is also a sign of Jesus:
22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "
The nation of Israel, does not just rise from the defeated - it rises from the dead. From slavery, from far flung exile - when travel was dangerous - from complete despair. It rises just as God promises, His Word is truth.
Help us Father God, to always put our faith in Your promises. Thank you, God, for Your Mercy! Helping the undeserving, rescue forever - it is what You give us! It is in Your mercy, we have been washed clean. To Your glory, Father God! In the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.