July 8: 5 Tammuz
According to tradition, it was on this day, in 502 B.C, that Ezekiel was called by God to go to the people of Israel.
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there. (Ezekiel 1:1-3)
These verses substantiate the tradition about this day but, more importantly, indicate that Ezekiel was living among the Chaldeans when he was called. In other words, he was in Babylon – the place to which Judah had been exiled. However, Ezekiel was actually called to “the rebellious house of Israel” (Ezekiel 2:3-5). That’s interesting Scripture, at this point in history, distinguished the “house of Israel” from the “house of Judah.” Judah had been sent into Babylonian exile while the “house of Israel” was, by this time, considered to be lost. And yet Ezekiel, who was in Babylon, was called to that “rebellious house.” The point is, apparently at that time, they weren’t entirely lost. In fact, one could argue that they were lost only in the sense that they were lost to people. God never lost them.
Furthermore, through Ezekiel, God promised that, in the latter days, He would restore the family by taking the two kingdoms and putting them back together as one people under one King. This is a principle and a promise that we see throughout Scripture from the very beginning. In the book of Genesis, Joseph was separated from his family and, in a time of great trial and distress, was reunited with them. Later, the Messiah of Israel affirmed the promise to reunite the family when He said that He had come for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Furthermore, we are told that He died, not just for the Jews, but “that He would gather together all the people of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
This reunification was the very thing that weighed upon the minds of Christ’s disciples as He was preparing to ascend into the heavens. They asked Him, “Are you at this time going to restore again the Kingdom unto Israel?” (Acts 1:6). That was just another way of saying, “Are you going to put the family back together, now?” His response was, in a manner of speaking, “It’s going to happen, it’s just not going to happen right now. That it can happen, you need to go into all nations and be my witnesses.”
God has promised, from the beginning, that He will reunite the family known as Israel. He used a priest and prophet living in Babylonian captivity, no less, to affirm this promise. Then He sent the Messiah to suffer and be resurrected in order to make this reunion possible. Today, we still look forward to its ultimate fulfillment. We may not see the fruition of it in our lifetime but the Eternal God is faithful to His promise and will see to it that all is accomplished.
On a much smaller scale and more personal note, many of us have situations in our lives where family members are disconnected from us. Far too families are broken, either through dysfunction, maybe misunderstanding and hurts and sometimes because of what we believe. For the family not to be together and be united as one is bothersome. Sometimes, you don’t know what to do in order to fix things; sometimes there is nothing that you can do to fix it. But consider this: the Messiah told His disciples that, when it came to Israel being reunited, it wouldn’t happen when they thought it would or in the way they thought it might, but it would happen.
Therefore, if you have situations in your family where there is disconnection, disfunction and distance, let’s believe that God will be faithful to reunite our family, just as He has promised to reunite His family. In the meantime, as a family of believers, let us truly behave as brothers and sisters. Messiah told us that the world would recognize us as His disciples by our love for one another. Also, He said that our true family are those who keep the commandments of our Father in heaven. So then, let us strive not to allow disfunction and division to drive a wedge between brothers and sisters in the LORD. To the contrary, let us pray that there will be shalom in our home. Moreover, let us pray that, where those distant and difficult relationships are concerned, the Father will give us wisdom and direction in how to foster complete restoration in our families.