Meditations from Ezekiel: 7. Ezekiel’s Mission
Ezek 2:1,2 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
God’s personal communication: From the strange nature of chapter 1, as we move into chapter 2 we move into simple straight forward instruction. Now it is almost so obvious that we don’t usually think about it, but what we find behind all that we have read so far in this book, is that the Lord is revealing something of Himself and His glory because He has a message to convey to Ezekiel and the Lord wants the message to come in the overall context of the heavenly vision. Now of course He could have sent a single angel to convey this message to Ezekiel as we find with such figures that we have referred to previously, Gideon, Zechariah and Mary, but when it comes to calling a prophet it seems God appears to speak to the prophet personally. (See Jeremiah or Isaiah, for example) The point is that God has a task for Ezekiel and when we speak of his calling, we refer to what God calls him to do for the rest of his life. Observe.
Son of Man: “He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” Note, ‘Son of Man’ a designation used over 90 times in Ezekiel emphasizing his humanity. The Lord knows his frailty as a human being and will provide accordingly, but also it may be He uses this designation to keep Ezekiel in a humble perspective because he is going to be the recipient of amazing prophecy and there is always a danger in that. The apostle Paul said the Lord had given him a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to counter any pride that the enormity of revelation he received might stir up in him (see 2Cor 12:7). C.S.Lewis had Aslan the Lion refer to the children as “son and daughters of Adam”, his way of conveying the same thing, but perhaps it also reminds us that we are part of the sinful human race and we constantly need God’s mercy and grace.
Empowered: Ezekiel is flat on his face so the Lord instructs him to stand up because He wants to speak to him face to face, but, “As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.” (v.2) The power of the holy Spirit accompanies God’s words and it is the Spirit who raised him up. When God instructs, He also enables.
Directions: Then comes the message we’ve been waiting for all this time: “He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’” (v.3,4) He is going to receive words from God and he is to convey those words to the Israelites there in Babylon, and maybe those words will get back to Israel and Jerusalem as well. He is to be under no illusions about this task for the Lord sees that this people “are obstinate and stubborn”. On what does He base that assessment? On the fact that He has sent His word to Israel again and again and again, calling them away from idolatry and back to Himself but, in His words, they had been in rebellion and revolt against Him for decades, if not centuries.
Now Ezekiel is given some helpful encouragement: “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious house–they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (v.5) i.e. it’s not down to you whether they respond; all you have to do is bring the message with the result that they will know you are a prophet from me and will never be able to say they didn’t know what I want.
But then He brings a stronger instruction: “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” (v.6-8) Three times he is told not to be afraid of the people. Yes, they are obstinate, yes, they will reject you, yes, they may even oppose you, but you don’t need to be afraid of them. All you need to worry about is that you convey my word to them; don’t be like them and disregard or rebel against what I am saying to you.
Now we may understand the context a little more, the incredible vision of chapter 1, of which these verses are still part. The enormity of heaven and the powers of heaven are behind you Ezekiel, the Lord God Almighty is with you and sending you. His might and authority go with you.
And Us? Now there are similarities and differences here from what we experience. First of all we have been called and the result of our calling is that we are now Christians, we are part of the body of Christ and individually members of it (1 Cor 12:27). As such God has plans and purposes for each of us: “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) Moreover God will gift us with whatever we need to do whatever He calls us to do: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Rom 12:4-6)
The big difference for us is that neither you nor I are called to speak to a whole nation (There may be someone out there called to speak to a community of whatever size) but most of us will operate with the leading, the calling, the empowering and the gifting that God gives to us as PART of the body of Christ, the Church. In general terms we are all called to be witnesses to Christ whenever we have the opportunity, but a few of us will be called to be evangelists, some pastors and teachers and so on.
How we are ‘called’: Now honesty demands that I acknowledge that few Christians sense a very specific call to a particular ministry. Some do and that may be you, but many of us find we get ‘called’ by dint of circumstances or heart yearning and opportunity. What will happen is that we find a particular desire or even burden on our hearts and this the Lord uses to lead us into His ‘good works’ (Mt 5:16) that He knows you will be good at. That may be being merciful to the needy, it may be teaching Sunday School, or it may be bringing prophetic encouragement, the range is extensive. But here’s the thing: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:27) that we’ve already quotes but which needs emphasizing. YOU and EACH ONE, those are the words to note. Every single Christian is a member of the body of Christ and the purpose of that analogy is to get us thinking and doing the WORKS of Jesus. The works of God for Ezekiel will be conveying His message to His people. That’s what will be coming in an intriguing variety of ways. Watch this space.