This is my Blog – and right now I’m just commenting on Ezekiel.
I’ve been going through Ezekiel chapters 2-4,…actually several times now. To me there are some fascinating things going on here. As always, I find myself engaged at a human level. My point in writing this is not to repreat the verses, but instead to highlight points where Ezekiel’s experience and message resonate.
For instance, looking at the beginning of Chapter 2, there is a line where God tells Ezekiel, “…I am sending you…” I am very certain that Ezekiel felt the weight of the message he had to carry and knew very well the less than popular reception he was going to get. But going back to Exodus, the I AM is actually speaking here and sending Ezekiel – the same words as spoken to Moses. Ezekiel must have been thinking, “….well at least I’m in good company”. That sense of commission here is very strong. Ezekiel is literally knocked off his feet and God tells him to first stand up back on your feet, and then, I will talk with you.
Any normal human being should be thinking of how he/she would react to similar circumstances. Mostly, it could be summed up as, “AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…….!!!??????” panic, panic, panic. Fight or Flight instincts just begging to kick in.
To this, God says to Ezekiel, “Fear not…” Wow (I know, I say that a lot.) But isn’t that the exact same message that the angels said to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus to announce the beginning of the Gospel story? Fear not. I love this message because it is authentic and true to the nature of God’s message, the same message Jesus preached. It’s amazing to me how often that message gets lost in the noise and confusion of modern theological battles between groups hollering at each other over Christian values. Is there really need to fear so much that we must exclude people who don’t conform to our concept of a Godly existence? God’s voice is the voice of peace, therefore, the voice of fear belongs to someone else.
Moving on in this portion of Ezekiel, our hero is standing there wondering how on earth he’s going to carry this message. I’m not equipped for this, he must be thinking. I don’t have the staff for this, my software is out of date, where will I find an online carrier……-what if someone gets confrontational with me because of all this???! These are the questions of man.
First the message. To Ezekiel’s surprise, this bitter message of judgement on Israel is actually sweet on his tongue, as sweet as honey. The Word of God is challenging to us, it does take us to new places that are sometimes scary. But the prophets consistently report to us that when they embrace the revealed nature of God, and cast off bagage and preconcieved notions, the message becomes clear, attractive, tasty and good.
Next God tells Ezekiel not to worry about the people to whom he’s tasked with delivering the message. “I will transform you” is the message to Ezekiel, I will make you just as hard as they are, just as tough. They are an unpliant people, so I will show them that I can be unpliant too. I will demand that they open their ears….but don’t be surprised if they don’t listen anyway.
I don’t know if this brought relief to Ezekiel, exactly, but he must have felt bolder and more inclined to risk what God was expecting.
As a side thought, I’ve heard it said that Christianity has nothing to do with the Old Testament. Here in these chapters we see that, in fact, the opposite is true. Christianity was ushered in with the words “Fear Not”. Christ himself often finished his parables with the statement: he that has ears, let him hear – which is a direct reference from the visions of Ezekiel. The message of Christ that the kingdom is here, is captured in this 3-D Imax vision of Ezekiel where the Spirit if God takes Ezekiel away to the desert and says I will speak with you here….eg. not in Israel, not in the temple, Here where you are. Jesus told his disciples that even as He was sent, they were now sent, just like Ezekiel.
I see in these chapters the great compassion of God towards humans – those that try hard to embrace God’s nature and message. He preps, He explains, He gives warning, He pleads, He gives words of encouragement, He seems to have a very high opinion of human beings and seems to have undaunted confidence and optimism in us even in the face of His own impending judgements
I’m really meditating on the end of this sequence, but that’s all I have for now….