I am reading the prophet Ezekiel in the Life Journal this week. One thing that struck me, and I had never seen before, is the timing of Ezekiel's writing and prophetic work. He is writing from Babylon between the sieges of Jerusalem. In 597 BC, Jerusalem is laid siege by the king of Babylon and Judea becomes a vassal of the Babylonian kingdom. Ezekiel must have been carried off to Babylon at this time because he writes of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and her final punishment. Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem again in 587 BC and this time destroys the city, tears down the walls and carries off who ever is left into exile.
What was life like in exile? What were the spiritual conditions of this pause in the destruction of Jerusalem? How was Ezekiel's message of doom, death and destruction received by this in exile? by those who may have heard it back in Jerusalem? And, what, if any, relationship did the prophet Ezekiel have with the prophet Jeremiah who also lived through this 10 year gap in time? Life in exile. Away from the things that nurtured and among people who don't understand the traditions, life must have been difficult. This is the environment that produces Psalm 137 "By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept . . . . how could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" One of the saddest images in all of the Old Testament.
Exile. Here's an odd thought. If heaven is my true home. If, when I became a Christ follower I joined a rebel force that is not of this world am I not also in exile -- even if it is a self imposed one? Yet, unlike Psalm 137, I am commanded to sing the Lord's song in my time imposed exile. Somehow I am living into eternity while still stuck moving moment to moment through time.
Fellow exiles for Christ we need each other for encouragement, for help, for hope, for life itself.