Christian life

Ezekiel vs. the Dark Side

Kids (and adults) look to sports stars, world travelers, movie/cartoon characters, or military figures as their heroes. Bible heroes don’t often top the list, but if we read their contexts carefully, the elements of a great adventure—exotic settings, danger, rejection, races against time, supernatural “interference” (good and bad)—are all there.

Consider Ezekiel.

Back story: Assyria, under the vile King Sennacherib, had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and threatened the southern kingdom of Judah too. But then Babylon (King Nebuchadnezzar) conquered Assyria and attacked Judah, setting fire to the temple in Jerusalem. Daniel and his friends were carted off to Babylon, a horrible pagan place, as was Ezekiel (who was probably about 30). 2 Chronicles 36:15-20 shows that all this happened, with God’s permission, because of his people’s disobedience in spite of his continuous warnings.

old map of Babylon
Babylon (image: public domain)

The book of Ezekiel opens with Ezekiel by a river in Babylon, where he has a spooky vision of cherubim (Ezekiel 1:1). Then God calls Ezekiel to preach to his own people (2:3). Those would be Jews who have been dragged to Babylon and should be repentant, but dealing with God’s people is going to be like dealing with thorns and scorpions (2:3-9). Never mind. Ezekiel is to preach his message whether they listen or not. (How unfun!)

Ezekiel himself must have wondered whether God’s judgment on Judah had been overly harsh. To show Ezekiel how bad things really had become, God takes Ezekiel (either literally or in a vision) back to the temple area in Jerusalem and lets him see specifics of  the horrible idolatry the Jews had drifted into: idols, leaders worshipping the sun, etc. (chapters 8–10). (Picture that happening in a church building today. Whoa!) And then Ezekiel has the depressing vision that the presence/glory of God had to leave the temple. It’s awful.

Ezekiel perseveres with his assignment (a total of about 22 years), and at some point his wife dies. But Ezekiel can’t show grief when he goes out the next morning because, for some reason, God didn’t want him to display his sorrow (24:15 and following). Now that had to be a dark time!

Ezekiel’s life continues with mystery and drama and “special effects”: prophecies against various people groups; the vision of the dry bones in chapter 37; and then, ultimately, visions of a restored people—whether fully/partly literal for that time, a future vision of Heaven, or both. And then the very victorious last words of the book—“The name of the city from that time on will be: The Lord Is There.”

Ezekiel. Tough guy, tough assignment, special power, mission accomplished. Superhero.

Let’s help kids dig deep and learn as much about the Bible heroes as they know about Star Wars, The Little Mermaid, and Pokemon characters. Not only do these very real Bible heroes inspire just as much admiration and adventure—they teach us faithfulness, obedience, and godly courage to boot!

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