IT IS over 10 years since King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar took all the best educated Israelites away to Babylon. And now look at what is happening! Jerusalem is being burned down. And the Israelites who weren’t killed are being taken as prisoners to Babylon.
Remember, this is what Jehovah’s prophets warned would happen if the people didn’t change their bad ways. But the Israelites did not listen to the prophets. They kept right on worshiping false gods instead of Jehovah. So the people deserve to be punished. We know this because God’s prophet Ezekiel tells us about the bad things that the Israelites were doing.
Do you know who Ezekiel is? He is one of the young men King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar took to Babylon over 10 years before this great destruction of Jerusalem took place. Daniel and his three friends, Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach and A·bedʹne·go, were also taken to Babylon at the same time.
While Ezekiel is still in Babylon, Jehovah shows him the bad things happening back in Jerusalem at the temple. Jehovah does this by a miracle. Ezekiel is really still in Babylon, but Jehovah lets him see everything that is going on at the temple. And what Ezekiel sees is shocking!
‘Look at the disgusting things that the people are doing here at the temple,’ Jehovah tells Ezekiel. ‘Look at the walls covered with pictures of snakes and other animals. And look at the Israelites worshiping them!’ Ezekiel can see these things, and he writes down what is happening.
‘Do you see what the Israelite leaders are doing in secret?’ Jehovah asks Ezekiel. Yes, he can see this too. There are 70 men, and they are all worshiping false gods. They are saying: ‘Jehovah is not seeing us. He has left the land.’
Then Jehovah shows Ezekiel some women at the north gate of the temple. They are sitting there worshiping the false god Tamʹmuz. And look at those men at the entrance of Jehovah’s temple! There are about 25 of them. Ezekiel sees them. They are bowing to the east and worshiping the sun!
‘These people have no respect for me,’ Jehovah says. ‘They not only do bad things but come right to my temple and do them!’ So Jehovah promises: ‘They will feel the force of my anger. And I will not be sorry for them when they are destroyed.’
It is only about three years after Jehovah shows Ezekiel these things that the Israelites rebel against King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar. So he goes to fight against them. After a year and a half the Babylonians break through the walls of Jerusalem and burn the city to the ground. Most of the people are killed or taken away as prisoners to Babylon.
Why has Jehovah let this terrible destruction happen to the Israelites? Yes, because they have not listened to Jehovah and they have not obeyed his laws. This shows how important it is for us always to do what God says.
At first a few people are allowed to stay in the land of Israel. King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar puts a Jew named Ged·a·liʹah in charge of these people. But then some Israelites murder Ged·a·liʹah. Now the people are afraid that the Babylonians will come and destroy them all because this bad thing has happened. So they force Jeremiah to come with them, and they run away to Egypt.
This leaves the land of Israel without any people at all. For 70 years no one lives in the land. It is completely empty. But Jehovah promises that he will bring his people back to the land after 70 years. In the meantime, what is happening to God’s people in the land of Babylon where they have been taken? Let’s see.