From a different setting of things two people can see the same thing or event in a slightly different way. That is the way of the gospels of the New Testament. It is also the way of the prophets we will look at today. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were men in two different locations. They are contemporary with the other. One, however, Jeremiah is in Judah or Jerusalem preaching and calling the people to repentance; while Ezekiel in in Babylon as a captive of Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom; along with king Jehoichin.
Jeremiah’s message in Lamentations seems to have taken place after the city of Jerusalem is defeated, the walls broken down, the temple destroyed, and the precious articles for temple worship taken away. We can see Jeremiah’s being known as “the weeping prophet” as we read the laments that are written there. Ezekiel speaks to the people as God gives him visions, and acts for illustration. Ezekiel’s message would be mostly to the people who are captive in Babylon, or the written message to be taken back to those still in Jerusalem.
My reading, if you have not figured it out by now, was Lamentations 1 – 5 and Ezekiel 1 – 9. These prophets being contemporary with the other are coming from different perspectives, yet pretty much with the same message. Jeremiah wrote his prophecy trying to save as many lives in Judah as possible, calling people to turn from their idolatrous worship, by turning back to the LORD of hosts. Ezekiel sees the need for the people of Israel/Judah to realize that the LORD is the LORD.
Jeremiah was allowed to stay behind with a remnant of people, and the laments are written as he sees the city broken down, destroyed and forsaken;
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer. Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.” Lamentations 1:1-11 (KJV)
The prophets heart is grieved because of the cities destruction, but he knows it is due to her transgressions. She has sinned against the LORD, been given many opportunities to repent and change, yet has continued in debaucherous rebellion against the loving, merciful LORD of hosts.
The prophet Ezekiel is taken by the hand of the LORD, in a vision to Jerusalem, and sees the wickedness going on there in the face of judgment,
“And He put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” Ezekiel 8:3 (KJV)
By way of a vision the LORD took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem and showed him the evil that was taking place at that time in their previous “glorious city”. The “Ancients of the house of Israel were saying, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”
We do see in these to priests and prophets that there perspective is different, their views are different, but the message of God is still the same. The people of the land have forsaken the LORD. There is a need for cleansing, healing and renewing.
A different view? One was viewing from Jerusalem [Jeremiah]. The other was viewing from Babylon [Ezekiel].
The LORD of hosts, who holds the world, the universe in His hands will not tolerate evil in His people. He will not allow His children to live successfully in sin. He will judge our sin. It has already been judged in His Son Jesus Christ. However, when a Christian sins willfully, there remains no more sacrifice for sin. As it is written, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
-Tim A. Blankenship