So, in my reading of Ezekiel, I got all the way to Chapter 8 before I realized that I needed to go back and read the very first sentence again. You know, it’s that sentence that almost never gets read when you’re scanning through a book of the Bible looking for that certain verse…and it absolutely never gets read during a sermon. So after plumbing through chapter 4 several times and then reading on to chapter 8, I went back and read verse 1.
So, Ezekiel is an experienced minister after the manner of the traditional professional priesthood. He’s dealing with life as an exile in Babylon. But the first verse shows me how the rest of the book is Ezekiel’s way of dealing with something that shattered his organized world. He packs 4 important things in the very first sentence for us, and at least for me, lets me know that I’m reading about a real person.
What four things? Hmmm?
1) Exactly what date – to the day. None of this “…oh it was in the spring time” or “ten years ago, I think I had a dream….” No it was in such ‘n such year, this month, that day. What ever happened made a specific impression on him.
2) Where was he? He was with his people in exile. Not fasting away on some mountain (been there, done that). He was among the captive outcasts of Israel. He shared their distress – he was hip deep in it.
3) And then? Ezekiel says that ‘….the heavens opened” Again, not “I heard a voice”, or “my impression” or “my feeling”. No. God knew he needed to blow this guy’s socks off to get his attention. From Ezekiel’s reaction I see that this was way off the scale of normal, nothing he would expect being of your average priestly family. Witnessing the heavens open is as unthinkable as going behind the veil in the Holy of Holies in the former Jerusalem temple. Your average Priest just didn’t do something like that.
4) “…and I saw visions of God.” Simple. To the point. Cuts right through it all and rings of sincerity because it is so simple. It is also the very core of witness – I saw, so now I tell.
That’s authenticity folks, and it’s all in one sentence.