August 15, 2010

Ezekial 2

After the opening vision in Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel lies prostrate before the voice of God awaiting the Word that is to come to him. Ezekiel receives his commission from God at this time (vs. 1-5), that of being the designated prophet to minster to the rebellious people Israel. After hearing the words of God, Ezekiel then receives the sins and judgements of God on a scroll, eventually eating the scroll and then moving on to preach to the people Israel starting in chapter 3.

So we being, Chaper 2....

Inner Strength

Ezekiel lies face down in awe of God, in holy reverence to the granter of the sparkling vision of God and beauty of God's Spirit out of the whirlwind to being this book. Does God commend him for his humble adoration? No, but rather calls him to stand, not unlike his call to Moses upon Moses' experience at the Burning Bush. The call to standing up is a call to action, but the decision to stand and take in the commands of God is on our own doing. Matthew Henry's Commentary (MHC) points this out:
v. 2. God bade him stand up; but, because he had not strength of his own to
recover his feet nor courage to face the vision, the Spirit entered into him and
set him upon his feet. Note, God is graciously pleased to work that in us which
he requires of us and raises those whom he bids rise. We must stir up ourselves,
and then God will put strength into us; we must work out our salvation, and then God will work in us.

When the Spirit of God calls, our adoration cannot delay our response but rather quicken our feet to action. God calls us to pray, but God also calls us to listen closely to his Spirit and when the call to action is placed upon our lives, we must be ready to heed the call.


Why is it that we often get this picture of God being some lovable Shepard with the little children smiling around him while forgetting that that same God is also a God of righteousness and justice? Is it that we want an excuse to continue justifying our own self-righteousness?

In verse 4, God calls out Israel saying, "For they are stiff-faced, hard-hearted and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.'

MHC describes the true message of God in more depth saying, 'They are impudent children, brazen-faced, and cannot blush; they are still-hearted, self-willed, and cannot bend, cannot stoop, neither ashamed nor afraid to sin; they will not be wrought upon by the sense either of honour or duty.'

Oh how often we fall short and instead relish in our own rebellious ways. This is the reason God is sending Ezekiel to Israel as their self righteousness smoke has reached heaven's gate. God will not strive with, nor will he keep his anger from us forever.

Conscience as Witness

While man can try to explain away their naturally evil bent behaviors, nothing can explain away the feeling of guilt or sin upon the conscience. We all show the work of the law written on our hearts, with the conscience bearing witness to the truth and our thoughts accusing or excusing our behavior. Likewise, the conscience also responds to the Gospel in a similar manner.

Verse 5: He has authority to call those to an account to whom he
sends his ambassadors. Whether they will hear or whether they will forbear,
whether they will attend to the word or turn their backs upon it, they shall
know that there has been a prophet among them, shall know by experience.

The natural question that Ezekiel or anyone else in likewise predicament would be stating is, What difference will it make if I go or not if they won't even listen to the message? God states it clear in verse five that their response will not be involuntary and unaccounted for, their conscience will bear witness to the truth of the gospel being preached. MHC states, '
When men’s hearts are made to burn under the word, and their wills to bow to it, then they know and bear the witness in themselves that it is not the word of men, but of God.'

The quality of omniscience, the all-knowing characteristic of God's nature should put the fear of God in any one's heart. MHC states, 'God knew this concerning them, how inflexible, how incorrigible, they were. God is perfectly acquainted with every man’s true character, whatever his pretensions and professions may be. ' We can run, but we can't hide. Our character, our very being, is always on display before the God of the universe as if a secret video camera is on full display and filming every move you make.


While God sees our natural bent toward evil and hard hearts, He is always wanting to bring us to the truth and do so in a way that involves our participation. Toward the end of the chapter, Ezekiel receives the scroll of the words of God for His people Israel and in verse ten, God 'spreads it out before Ezekiel.' God did not want Ezekiel to implicitly eat up the scroll without having any knowledge of what it contains. He rather wanted Ezekiel to understand what it was that God wanted to communicate to the people Israel and then make that message his own. He spreads out his word for Ezekiel to see and understand, and then he commands Ezekiel to eat it. MHC states, 'Be not rebellious, says Christ, but eat what I give thee'.

God's message of salvation is likewise free, ready to eaten up by an understanding heart.

August 8, 2010

Ezekiel 1

Exiled in Babylon following the siege of Jerusalem in 597BC, a priest and prophet named Ezekiel communicates the message of God for his people Israel through the usage of prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols. Preceding the exile into Babylon, it had been the main custom of Israel to worship God at the temple, but now that they were exiled in a distant land was it still possible to worship God? Ezekiel, whose name means "God strengthens" or "Strengthened by God", is indeed infused with strength through visions to reveal to the people of Israel that God is still with them in their captivity.


Ezekiel's inaugural vision of God is nothing out of the ordinary, a descriptive majestic drama outside of the normal realm of thought written down. He describes four living creatures with four faces and four wings, surrounded by two moving beryl (Neptune, sea blue) wheels and moving like the appearance of lightning and fire. Above these creatures is expanse of crystal of which sits the appearance of God on a throne like that of a cloud on a rainy day.

A terrific animated description can be found here, with the help of some animated graphics and the chapter being read in the background.

A key verse I found here is in verse 20:
"Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels."

The picture here is of God in his heavenly like chariot, although his chariot sounds like an army, coming in an orderly fashion and moving as the spirit directed. In a sense the wheels, of which one wheel is inside and controlled in the other wheel, is like God's providence and direction controlling the circumstances of events here on earth in precise, orderly fashion. From our perspective it seems like his chariot is moving disorderly; however, what we fail to see is that every action of the chariot is being controlled by Divine will and moves guided by the Spirit of God.

The outer wheel is God's perfect steady providence. Vs. 18 mentions that the rims of the wheels 'were awesome, and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them." God is an infinite, all knowing omniscient God who moves as his Spirit directs. Matthew Henry's commentary states," The issues of things are not determined by a blind fortune, but by those eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the earth, and are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." It is not by some blind ignorant act of God that evil occurs, although we often treat the judgement of God like death, a future event that will never happen to us. The passage also describes the crystal layer above the spinning wheels upon which God sits and directs. While it may appear as a cloud from below, to God it is a crystal structure like clear glass for which God can see right through.

God is not slow in keeping his promise, as some count slowness but is patient with, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.