If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.
30 May. Ezekiel chapters 1-3
What a dramatic start! Unlike some of the other prophets of the Old Testament, we hear nothing of Ezekiel’s past, but are presented with both a first-person and third-person accounts of his earth-shaking vision. Full of vivid imagery of light, noise and motion – wheels, eyes, flashes of lightning, the faces and feet of humans and animals, angels’ wings – clearly Ezekiel was struggling to put into words what could not really be described. This was the ‘shekinah’ or glory of God, a privilege which few people have ever had (Moses, Jesus and his disciples Peter, James and John among them).
The whole of the first three chapters is taken up with his two encounters (or ‘epiphanies’) with this glory. Before we get to read the details of God’s prophecy through Ezekiel to his captive people in Babylonia, we have to understand the instructions given to Ezekiel by God in this vision. Eight times the Jewish exiles are called a “rebellious house”, and it is clear that they are unlikely to act on whatever God’s instructions to them are going to be. It is also clear that they would oppose Ezekiel, and would be like “briers, thorns and scorpions” to him (those things that prick, scratch and sting). Nevertheless, Ezekiel would be failing in his calling and duty, and held guilty by God, if he did not pass the instruction on.
In a much smaller way, that is the challenge facing all people of faith. If we believe we have a message for the world from God then we must deliver it, however much opposition we might face. This week the Archbishops of England have asked all the churches to pray for their communities, and in particular for the spreading of the Christian message among them, under the title “Thy kingdom come” (words taken, of course, from the Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus). Unlike Ezekiel who had no support for his one-man ministry, church members can come together for mutual support in prayer, speaking and action.