Ezekiel 19 (read it here) requires some historical background.
Josiah was the last godly king of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. In 608 BC He allied himself with the Babylonians against an alliance of Egypt and Assyria. He tried to stop the Egyptian army at the Megiddo pass. He was defeated and died in the battle.
Three of Josiah’s sons ruled after him:
- Jehoahaz who ruled for three months and then was deposed by the Egyptians in 608 BC (see Ezekiel 19:4).
- Jehoiakim (and his son Jehoiachin) then allied themselves with Egypt against Babylon. The Babylonians came and deposed Jehoiachin and took him to Babylon in 597 BC (see Ezekiel 19:8).
- Zedekiah who was ruling as Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon. Even though he was ruling as king, Ezekiel says “no strong branch is left” from the royal family in Ezekiel 19:14. Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon would bring about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Ezekiel 20 (read it here)
This prophecy comes in the seventh year of Ezekiel’s exile (590 BC) just four years before Jerusalem would be destroyed. As you read this chapter, note two words/phrases:
- For the sake of my name
The Sabbath, that day of rest and focus on their Savior God, was critical. If God’s people don’t keep their focus on the Savior, their faith is lost—an important lesson for us to keep the Sabbath by weekly worship.
As Ezekiel recounts the history of God’s people, we see over and over that they deserved to be destroyed for their sins. Why didn’t that destruction take place? “For the sake of my name.” God is gracious, not because of our actions, but so that he might be faithful to his Saving Name.
John 11:1-16 (read it here)
The disciples struggled to understand Jesus’ actions in this account about Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Why did Jesus wait? It is another example of "For the sake of my name." Jesus said, “For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the Apostle John records that you loved (that special word 'agape' - a self-sacrificing love) Martha and Mary and Lazarus. It didn't seem like you loved them when you delayed. It didn't seem like you loved them the day Lazarus died. Just as it didn't seem like you loved your Old Testament people the day Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. Lord, so often we are in that place where it doesn't seem like you love us. When those days and hours come, help us remember that you are doing all "for the sake of your name" that we might believe in you. In humility, we admit that there is much that we don't understand, but that you are acting in love for your children. We long to gather together in worship this weekend, to keep your Sabbath, to find rest for our souls in your comforting Word. Amen.