Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The call of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is a contemporary, although younger, to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah spent his life prophesying to a nation in rebellion, namely Judah.  Ezekiel spends his life in exile, having been taken from Jerusalem in 597 by the conquering army of Nebuchadnezzar.  Ezekiel is preparing to become a priest when he is taken and is diverted by God on the banks of the Kebar river perhaps in about 592 b.c. since Ezekiel says that it is the 5th year of the exile for King Jehoiachin.

Ezekiel is living as an exile among the exiles when God sends a vision to him, a vision that many have tried to decipher and I will not.  Suffice it to say, for our purposes, God speaks to Ezekiel out of the vision and Ezekiel, like others before and since, who find themselves in the presence of the most Holy, falls to his face in abject fear.  God is holy and we are not and when sin is confronted by God it will always quake at the prospect of that which could occur.  Righteousness will always win.  ( I am speaking about eternity and not about a specific time in human existence.)

God places his word in the mouth of Ezekiel and Ezekiel experiences the sweetness of that word.  When we are working conversely to the word of God it will not be sweet.  Legions have tried to deny the word of God and they are broken by the effort, but every person who has given themselves over to the wisdom of the Word has found peace that passes all understanding.  Such is a sweetness that cannot fully be explained to someone who has not experienced it.

God tells Ezekiel that he will not serve him as a Priest, rather he will serve as a prophet to the exiled nation of Israel.  Jeremiah prophesies to the failing nation and Ezekiel prophesies to the nation in exile.  There messages are similar in that they both speak of God's anger that has been stirred up by a stiff necked people who had been blessed by God but had refused to love him in return.  Both offer words of hope in the midst of their difficult messages.  Both live extraordinarily difficult lives from a human perspective.

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel might be labeled failures in the modern world in that not many folks responded to their calls for repentance.  It is important to remember that God will measure us by our faithfulness rather than the world's definition of success.  Ezekiel will be very successful in his faithful pursuit of speaking the word that God gives him.  His visions, his miraculous works, him obedient lifestyle continue to speak to those who seek to honor God by their words, deeds and lifestyle.  Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear that we might discern God's message for our lives as we read this wonderful Old Testament Book called Ezekiel.

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