Well today we start reading Ezekiel. Ezekiel was among the second group of exiles taken by the Babylonians — Daniel and his friends had been taken to Babylon about 9 years earlier. We’re told he was settled in Telabib (or Tel Aviv) on the Chebar River (one of the canals of the Euphrates), though it is uncertain exactly where this was located. His ministry, therefore, was to the exiles in Mesopotamia — while Jeremiah was in Palestine and Daniel was in the palace.
Having said that let’s give a little thought to some of the ideas found in the first three chapters…
The Glory of the LORD
Given Ezekiel’s ministry to a rebellious house, he was going to need an awe-inspiring vision to keep him motivated; and God granted him a grand one. There are a lot of parallels in Ezekiel’s vision with the apostle John’s many centuries later. In both cases they are brought into God’s throne room, as it were, seeing visions of cherubim and of God. Though it was only a vision, it served as a long term reminder to Ezekiel of the importance of his message, of the responsibility he had to speak the message, and of the divine source of the message. We’d do well ourselves, wouldn’t we, to remember the source of things like the “Great Commission”, the expectations of morality, and the precious truths of Christian doctrine. They aren’t man-made rules; they are commands from the mouth of the high and holy LORD.
God’s prophet to a rebellious house
Did you notice how many times “rebellious house” or some version of it is mentioned here (especially in chapter 2)? Do you get the impression that God’s opinion of them is rebellion? What’s God’s impression of you? What would His impression be of your church? Now be careful, don’t be knee-jerk about this and say, “Well, God’s impression of me and my church is clearly faithfulness!” Paul tells us, (2 Corinthians 13:5) “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” Find the standard of individual discipleship and congregational faithfulness and maturity.
Being a watchman
God gives Ezekiel a metaphorical watchman’s job; and He gives it to him it view of the expected refusal, rebellion, and possibly even hostile reception Ezekiel was likely to be met with. Doubtlessly, Ezekiel was going to be greatly tempted to give up — “They’re not going to listen anyway!” He tells Ezekiel that He is appointing him a watchman because a watchman’s job is clear — you sound the alarm regardless of whether or not the townspeople were going to listen. A watchman who saw the approaching danger and decided not to sound the alarm would be clearly guilty of the slaughter of the whole town — they’d never had the chance to prepare, arm themselves, close the gates, or beat a hasty retreat. Now, if the alarm was sounded and people failed to heed it, the watchman would be innocent — he did his job, the people had failed to heed his alarm. It is not just Ezekiel who has been appointed a watchman, the watchman thing is a parable, a metaphor that applies to anyone who knows God’s word and is in the midst of those in danger of condemnation. We are all watchman with the message of the Gospel. There’s a hymn whose first line goes this way:
“When in the better land,
before the bar we stand,
how deeply grieved our souls will be,
if any lost one there
should cry in deep despair,
‘You never mentioned Him to me.'”
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.