Just more blogging from me on Ezekiel.
There is a small section at the very end of Ezekiel Chapter 3 that doesn’t seem to attract much notice. In all the commentaries I’ve read, there is only brief mention of Ezekiel’s reaction to the first vision. The one commentary I’m focusing on by Arno C Gaebelein looks at the seven days of silence by Ezekiel to show Ezekiel’s horror, remorse, guilt over the impending doom of the Lord’s coming judgments. Very dark.
I see it differently. Yes the text in verse 14 says that Ezekiel went away in bitterness and anger. Very strong emotions indeed. For my part, that is something that I can relate to, and it’s what makes Ezekiel stay human in our eyes. I digress though,…
Stepping back, we see Ezekiel staggering from the impact of the vision as a whole. Remember – it was sweet as honey on his tongue as Ezekiel read (ate) the scroll – the message from God. It’s an interesting metaphor because whenever you eat something then you have to take time to digest. Ezekiel needs to process – and don’t we all. He says that the Spirit lifted him up. So here we begin to see identification of that Spirit of God as being an active agent in the same way that Jesus promised the same Spirit to his disciples. That Spirit lifted him up.
Ezekiel has enough where-with-all to still make note of some interesting things to him. All of this first vision took place in the presence of that incredible chariot which carried the Lord’s presence here into this strange desert place – far indeed from the temple in Jerusalem. And to Ezekiel’s astonishment, he heard a voice that said,” May the glory of the Lord be praised in his dwelling place.” Imagine Ezekiels confusion – but Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple ruined. What holy place??!!!
This action by God is driving home the concept that the Holy place of God is not some specific section of rock in a certain place in Judea. In this case, the Holy place was the humbled and broken heart of Ezekiel willing to accept the pure Word of God in, take it in, and have faith enough to face the implications of an encounter with God’s Spirit. That is the Holy Place, that is the Kingdom about which Jesus said, “…the Kingdom is at hand.” It is a place of faith and prayer.
Ezekiel says again that the Spirit lifted him up. He returns to his people, his fallen and defeated people – those of his tribes who have lost their faith and believe that the Lord only dwells in the ruined temple in Jerusalem and will not hear them in this new place. He is angry and he is bitter because he sees the vast distance between the people and God, not because of geography, but because of the condition of their heart and their dry arid faith.
Ezekiel falls silent for seven days because of all this. Wouldn’t you? It’s an interesting silence too. Seven days to consider how everything had changed. Ezekiel’s whole concept of the Temple, of priesthood, of religion as a whole, …..the idea of “God, with us”. It’s a lot to take in. And Seven days was the Jewish number of perfection. It was out of respect that Ezekiel was silent, it was out of awe.
And God, knowing what humans were capable of, knowing when we need to digest, gives Ezekiel those Seven days to come to grips with the fact that the story that Moses began is still yet unfolding. God was with his people, even in judgment. And his kingdom? The most valuable place of all, a willing and humble heart.