Chapter 6: Hope for Jerusalem beyond Divine Judgment
We have seen a wonderful message of hope from Isaiah. But what about some of the other prophets—what about Ezekiel who experienced personal exile? Did those who experienced the destruction of the temple have any words of hope? Indeed, the message of Habakkuk is filled with this kind of hope. Though God raises up the Chaldeans to punish the wicked (Hab 1:6–11), the righteous will live by faith (Hab 2:4), and God’s glory will one day cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Hab 2:14). Those who have faith in God will be able to see beyond the destruction of Jerusalem. “Their faith in God will give them confidence that God’s glory will ultimately fill the whole earth and that those who trust in him will be protected” (118).
Many readers are familiar with the story of Daniel, but it is worth thinking through the details of the book with our biblical-theological lenses on. For example, a major theme throughout the book of Daniel is the expectation that God will one day renew Jerusalem. But Daniel is not just praying for the restoration of his homeland; he is praying that God would lead his people back to the cosmic mountain, back to the royal city where man could dwell with God in his presence once again. The book of Ezekiel contains a similar theme. When Ezekiel is thirty years old (the age for temple service), he sees a vision of the glory of God departing Jerusalem and moving east—towards Babylon. “Exile from Jerusalem did not mean abandonment by God” (130). Ezekiel 40–48 envisions a glorious temple with an exponentially-growing river flowing out of it. The majesty of this vision shows that it is “not a blueprint for the postexilic reconstruction of Jerusalem. It envisions so much more, for the fulfillment goes beyond what might be achieved by human efforts alone” (135). Though God’s people go through dark times of exile, the message of these prophets is that God will surely bring his people back to his city, back to his presence.