Ezekiel 1 and 2
Ezekiel, an Old Testament prophet has a vision before He is called by God. He has this vision, sitting by the Chebar canal, with exiled people, people without a home, without a plan, maybe feeling without purpose. To be in exile is to be out of place, and when one feels out of place, they typically distrust trust their own as well as others decisions. If I were Ezekiel in this moment, I probably would have trouble trusting my vision, mistaking it for a hallucination.
But his vision in the first chapter of Ezekiel, the book that bears his name, for all intents and purposes, is beautiful and wondrous. We all need visions like this. We all need communication with God like this. It puts into perspective His creativity and our need to be helped in our understanding. 4 creatures each with 4 faces, facing 4 different directions, with 4 wings, each creature going straight forward in their respective directions, not turning as they go. They go with a purpose throughout the earth, with wheels covered in eyes. (If you haven’t read it and think I’m making it up, read it for yourself) In an expanse, above these creatures is a throne with a Man, presumably Jesus?, sitting on it. The vision overwhelms Ezekiel, so he falls on his face.
Then he hears a voice: “Stand up, so I can speak with you.” Energized by the voice of God, the Spirit of God fills him and sets him on his feet telling him some news that is quite surprising. God tells him, (paraphrased) “I’m sending you to the people of Israel, you know the rebellious, stubborn people that you are sitting in exile with. The people who speak your language, tell them what I say, whether they want to hear it or not. Don’t be afraid of them, and don’t be rebellious. The words that I am giving you are words of lamenting, mourning and woe.” It’s a good thing God gave him these comforting words, right?
These 2 chapters are an interesting start to a book. The first chapter makes sense, a weird vision that Ezekiel will come back to several times. Chapter 2 also make sense because it is the calling Ezekiel receives that will set the tone for the rest of the story. As far as a narrative goes, it is great; a prophet who is called to stay with a homeless, plan-less, and somewhat purposeless people and told to give them more bad news. He’s not going to win a popularity contest; we can deduce that. What should confound us is why God would do this to someone. Why would you send someone to a rebellious group of people who are now suffering because of their self-inflicted mistakes to tell them that circumstances will likely get worse?
The answer, as you read the whole book, makes more sense, but in short, God does it for Ezekiel. God has this weird way of testing faithfulness. God has this weird way of searching the human heart. God has this weird kind of love that demands total devotion. Why does he do it? He wants to know how far Ezekiel will go in obedience for the sake of love so He can reveal to Ezekiel, a plan devised by God. He wants to know He can trust Ezekiel with a picture of the kingdom of God and all its glory. Chapter 1, God shows him a glimpse and chapter 2 God calls him to step into His plan despite a severe cost. Part of the cost of glory is that often it will just look a little weird to the ones not looking for it.