The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 15
Ezekiel, whose name means “God strengthens,” has been trained in Jerusalem for the priesthood, but he ends up in captivity before he can begin serving. God uses him to prophesy, instead, to those in exile. His is a refugee ministry. Ezekiel faithfully serves as God’s refugee minister and watchman for more than twenty years. Over the course of those years, the LORD has him do some strange things.
Before Ezekiel’s calling, God appears to him in a vision, just like He did with Jeremiah and Isaiah. Ezekiel sees the glory of God, “In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar . . . the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1).
Like Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel falls on his face in fear. No words adequately describe what he sees. Following this experience, the LORD commissions Ezekiel for his task and requires Ezekiel to “open your mouth and eat what I give you.” He then assured Ezekiel that his audience would resist his message, “I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day . . . I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse . . .“ (2:3-5). What an assignment!
God gives Ezekiel three experiences:
- A vision of God’s glory to sustain him, “And above the the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around . . . this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God” (1:26-28).
- The “eating” of the Word of God to maintain him, “‘Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.’ So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness” (3:1-3).
- The enabling of the Spirit of God to empower him, “So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me” (3:14).
Ezekiel’s preparation for his task differs little from our own preparation to serve God today in a world gone wrong.
We are sent into the world as watchmen—men and women who proclaim the coming judgment of God on unrepentant sinners. What sustained Ezekiel will also sustain believers today:
Christ-followers need a vision of God’s glory. Jesus is the glory of God. They must consider Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection until they are overwhelmed with His glory.
Christ-followers must take in the Word of God until it seeps from the pores of their lives.
Christ-followers must learn to appropriate the Spirit’s presence in their lives until He becomes their greatest reality.
The task is too big to be done in the flesh. Only a right view of God will sustain those called to minster during dark days.