On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. (The Lord gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him.)
Ezekiel was born when the nation was on the brink of complete destruction. He was preparing to become a priest in God’s Temple when the Babylonians attacked in 597 b.c. and carried him away along with 10,000 other captives (2 Kings 24:10-14). Five years later, when Ezekiel was 30, God called him to be a prophet. During Ezekiel’s early ministry in Babylonia, Jeremiah was still preaching to the Jews back in Judah, and Daniel was serving in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. The Kebar River was the location of a Jewish settlement of exiles.
Through Ezekiel, God helped the exiles understand why they had been taken captive and dispelled their false hope that their captivity was going to be short. Ezekiel brought a new message of hope, and called the people to a new awareness of their dependence upon God. Ezekiel’s presence with the exiles assured them of God’s concern for them, even as they lived in a foreign land.
When we face trial, God does not abandon us. Like the prophet Ezekiel, the Word of God is available to guide us and help us understand the circumstances we are facing. Spending time reading God’s Word may help us better notice God’s presence in our lives.