以西结使命的结束-End of Ezekiel’s Ministry 尼布甲尼撒王时期阶段性的疯狂打压-Nebuchadnezzar’s Temporary Insanity 耶利米使命的结束-End of Jeremiah’s Ministry
End of Ezekiel’s Ministry
After Ezekiel’s great temple vision, it is another two years before the word of the Lord comes to him again. This time it comes as a somewhat strange footnote to a judgment which Ezekiel had brought 16 years earlier against the city of Tyre. Pursuant to the earlier prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar was to destroy Tyre completely, and someday it would be left a “bare rock.” Since then Nebuchadnezzar has indeed laid a 13-year siege against Tyre, and the mainland city has evidently been destroyed. But Nebuchadnezzar has apparently not been able to reach the island city itself—at least not profitably enough to make it worth his trouble. Therefore God seems to be telling Ezekiel that he is giving Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as a consolation prize. For such a brief passage, it raises several interesting questions. It even ends on a mysterious note.
If, in fact, Nebuchadnezzar was unable to subdue Tyre completely, the city’s fate is not yet secure. In 322 B.C. Alexander the Great and his mighty Grecian army will build a causeway to the island and bring about the very degree of destruction which Ezekiel has predicted.
With this enigmatic passage the prophecies of Ezekiel come to an end. At age 55 Ezekiel has had a wonderful ministry lasting 25 years, and perhaps God continues to use him, as the last passage seems to suggest. It will be another 34 years before the first exiles return to Palestine. Ezekiel will be 89 years old if his life continues until that time. So, even if Ezekiel dies in his land of exile, it is altogether possible that he will live long enough to see the beginning of the great restoration about which he has brought such hope.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Temporary Insanity
In what appears to be the last two or three years of his reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia apparently becomes a true believer in the powerful God of his servant Daniel. The process of belief has been a long one, developing over some 40 years. Nebuchadnezzar was first awed by Daniel’s God when Daniel was given the ability to tell the king his dreams and interpret their meaning. He was further amazed when this God of the Hebrews saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. Polytheistic in his beliefs, however, he has yet to confront the singular, exclusive power of a creative and personal God of the universe, and does not at this point recognize his dependence upon such a divine being. He in fact still believes that all his accomplishments have been the result of his own abilities, and he fails to see a purposeful God working through him. As he reflects on his reign, his heart is filled with false pride. Yet, ironically, this very pride makes Nebuchadnezzar an easy target for God’s final appeal to him.
In the account that follows, Nebuchadnezzar issues an edict telling the whole world how God first warned him and then proceeded to humble him by bringing on a period of temporary insanity, during which time he roamed outside his palace like the animals among which he lived. His expressed reason for revealing the embarrassing incident is to bring honor to a God powerful enough to so humble a world leader, yet gracious enough to restore him to his throne. In issuing the royal decree Nebuchadnezzar appears to be a sincere believer, even to the point of evangelistically urging all people to turn to this very special King of heaven, the Most High God. What a happy ending to the life of one who has spent years oppressing God’s chosen nation!
[4:3] 他的神迹何其大！他的奇事何其盛！他的国是永远的！他的权柄存到万代！(Ca. 562 B.C.?)
How long Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness lasted is not clear from the phrase “seven times.” What is clear is that it was long enough to confront Nebuchadnezzar with his sinful state and his need for a redeeming God. How often it is that God humbles the proud, weakens the powerful, and brings shame to the beautiful in an effort to call all his creatures to know him! Of course not all people respond in penitent belief, but in Nebuchadnezzar God apparently found a fertile conscience that was ripe for conversion.
End of Jeremiah’s Ministry
Aminor historical footnote brings to a close the record of Jeremiah’s ministry. It comes at a time of changing leadership in Babylonia. After a reign of some 45 years, Nebuchadnezzar is succeeded by his son Awel-Marduk. In the first year of his reign he releases Jehoiachin from prison and brings him to a place of honor in Babylonia. Awel-Marduk evidently considers Jehoiachin the legitimate king of Judah and thus accords him an elevated status. (Jehoiachin had been taken captive 37 years earlier in the great deportation of 597 B.C.) At 55 he gets a new lease on life, but he will not figure in Judah’s future history.
[52:34] 巴比伦王赐他所需用的食物，日日赐他一分．终身是这样，直到他死的日子。 (Ca. 561 B.C.)
Whether Jeremiah is still alive at this time is not known. His last prophetic utterance took place in 586 B.C. after he had been taken to Egypt by a renegade band of his own people. At that time his ministry had spanned more than 40 years, and it has been about 25 years since then. Without knowing how old Jeremiah was when he received his prophetic call, in 627 B.C., it is not possible to determine his age at this time. In any event, the record of Jehoiachin’s release is probably added to Jeremiah’s prophecies by his faithful scribe, Baruch.
Although there will be other prophets and prophecies to come, the era of the great written prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel now comes to a close.