WHY DID EZEKIEL, IN BABYLON, WARN OF JERUSALEM’S FALL?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Ezekiel chapter 1 reports the Prophet-Priest Ezekiel is in Babylon. He, along with other Jews, had been taken from Jerusalem some four or five years prior: “ Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.  In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,  The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.”
Is it not bizarre that Ezekiel preached to Jews in Babylon about Jerusalem’s fall? His audience was not living in Jerusalem, so why did his ministry focus on its sacking? In other words, why did Ezekiel not go to Jerusalem and preach there? Why speak to Jews already in Babylon, who had left Jerusalem when he did years earlier? “For what saith the Scriptures?”
We find the answer in Jeremiah chapter 29. Jeremiah wrote this letter to those who left Jerusalem to go to Babylon with Ezekiel and King Jeconiah/Jehoiachin (cf. Ezekiel 1:2 and Jeremiah 29:1-2):
“ Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;  (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem; )  By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
“ Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;  Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;  Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
“ And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.  For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.  For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.  For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”
False prophets active during the ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel lied that while some Jews had been taken to Babylon, the city Jerusalem would not fall or be destroyed. These deceivers also claimed it would not be long before the displaced Jews would return to Jerusalem. Jeremiah penned his letter (chapter 29)—and really his whole Book—to make sure God’s Word was fully known concerning the matter. The exiled Jews would spend “seventy years” in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10; cf. Jeremiah 25:11-12). They were encouraged to settle there, submit to the Babylonian government, and seek Babylon’s peace. It would be quite a long time before they would return to Jerusalem.
The false prophets claimed there would be no destruction of Jerusalem. They claimed “peace, peace” for Jerusalem. These claims were in stark contrast to what the Holy Spirit was proclaiming through His spokesmen Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
See Ezekiel chapter 13: “ Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:….  To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the LORD God.” (You should read these verses in context to get their full impact.)
Also, Jeremiah 6:14: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:11: “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 14:13: “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place [Jerusalem].” Jeremiah 23:17: “They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” (You should read these verses in context as well.)
Ezekiel conducted his ministry in Babylon while Jeremiah’s latter ministry was underway in Jerusalem. Ezekiel had no reason to go teach God’s Word in Jerusalem because the LORD God already had Jeremiah there. God commissioned Ezekiel to preach to Jews in Babylon about Jerusalem’s fall to show them they would not be returning to Jerusalem anytime soon. The false prophets were exposed. Jerusalem would be destroyed (see Jeremiah chapter 52; cf. 2 Chronicles chapter 36; Ezekiel 24:1-2), and would be rebuilt many decades later. In fact, God through Jeremiah provided an exact timeframe of 70 years (Jeremiah 25:10-11; Jeremiah 29:11). Those 70 years are found in Daniel 9:2, terminating when Persian King Cyrus allowed the first group of Jews to leave Babylon to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:19-23; Ezra 1:1-4).