Last week we lamented the burden Jesus took on at the tender age of 33, this week we turn to Ezekiel at the tender age of 30!
And the way he started is like nothing we have ever seen before!
Ezekiel 1:2b tells us that he was… “…In the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar River, and the Hand of Yahweh was upon him there.”
Here in Babylon near the ancient city of Nippur a vision comes to Ezekiel; that can only be read to get the full context of our passage today.
In your bulletin is that passage, let us read it aloud together.
[Eze 1:26-28 ESV] 26 And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
This is why Ezekiel was exhorted to “stand on his feet” because any of us seeing what he saw…would be flat on the ground as fast as we could!
It’s rare that you see this kind of posturing today.
President Barak Obama just may have demonstrated a similar posture by bowing to Saudi King Abdullah, although some report it was not a bow at all, rather him leaning down to shake Abdullah’s hand because of the extreme height difference.
I let you check the video and judge for yourselves. But if it was intended to be a bow, President Obama was not the first to do it.
Eisenhower reportedly bowed to Charles de Gaulle. Nixon supposedly bowed to Hirohito in 1971, and Clinton bowed to Akihito in 1994.
So it has been done, but it is a rarity with few examples of it and it is often controversial when it happens.
It is even rarer amongst my peer group. I have only heard about Ezekiel’s posture being demonstrated one time.
It was a classmate of mine from seminary 18 years ago at his ordination; he laid full face and body down on the floor of the sanctuary in the church for his ordination.
Obviously this is common in the Catholic tradition of churches, but we’re Lutheran and almost nobody does that!
But I imagine the very first pastors of the church in the first century who saw Jesus resurrected remembered how they worshiped Him and clung to His feet when they saw Him alive for the first time.
As they continued the laying on of hands for the next generation of pastors, they likely retained this practice of prostrating themselves as homage to that powerful resurrection scene!
But it has become increasingly less practiced, so when we see this in Ezekiel today we need to know that this is a moment in time that is special and changes you.
Indeed God immediately changed Ezekiel.
The Lord changes him by addressing him no longer as Ezekiel, but rather only as “The Son of Man”.
93 times in Ezekiel God has opportunity to call him by his given name but never fails to refer to him as “Son of Man”
This is significant as it is the title Christ Jesus ascribed to Himself in the New Testament.
And as God speaks to Ezekiel we see the manifestation of the Holy Trinity as well.
God the Father is speaking the Word Son of Man and the Spirit of the Lord enters Ezekiel.
The Trinity causes Ezekiel to rise and prepares to send him.
So God says, “I send you”
Such a moment like this comes only to a few, and the few that it comes to, the response is clear.
In Isaiah 6 a similarly majestic vision is manifest and Isaiah answers the call.
In Jeremiah 1 and 2 Yahweh’s majestic vision of a throne at the gates of Jerusalem made it clear to Jeremiah that is was time, “…To go and proclaim…”
In Daniel 2:45 Daniel sees Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of the Prophecy that all kingdoms will crumble before Him and Daniel was called, by God, to give this message to the all-powerful King Nebuchadnezzar.
These are some of the most majestic visions from God that leads little to doubt about answering God’s call, and yet…
THEY STILL DID!
Isaiah wasn’t sure for he was a man of unclean lips (Is. 6:5)
Jeremiah said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth!” (Jer. 1:6)
And likewise we have our doubts as well.
I’ll never forget the first day I arrived at the church for my first call into the ministry.
I drove into the parking lot of that little brown church with knee high grass all around and ankle deep water flooding it all.
Paint was peeling on the building, and an elder in overalls was out in the field with a revolver shooting water moccasins, calling out to me,
“Welcome to Middleburg Pastor!”
For the briefest of moments I thought to myself, “Lord what have you gotten me into? They didn’t teach me how to handle all this at seminary!”
But I never had to handle any of it, because God had it all under control.
God sent the people who volunteered to scrape and paint the church. He sent the people with industrial sized tractor mowers to keep the grass under control. He even gave us the landscape engineers who reconfigured the swells of the land and got the water in the ponds where it belonged.
And none of it was because we were faithful; rather it was because God was faithful to us!
The only thing we knew; was proclaiming his Gospel and administering His sacraments to the people who needed it every day.
That’s all we really did, and God always took care of the rest.
We just had to let go and let God!
Oh I know it’s trite. But it was just as true for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel as it is for us today.
Isaiah had no control at all. All he had was his magnificent promise from God!
Jeremiah was but a kid with no adult aspirations, but his heavenly Father was ready to guide him.
Ezekiel and Daniel were nothing more than captives in a foreign land under the authority of a pagan king, yet God made it clear he was ruler over all.
We are but beggars in a universe that simply wants to wipe us off the face of the planet.
But lest we forget, Isaiah 40 reminds us, this is God’s earth and He is the one, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance. Who has measured the spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel?”
Isaiah clearly was not picked for his clean lips.
Jeremiah was not selected for his aged wisdom.
And Daniel and Ezekiel certainly were not recruited to be freedom fighters in a foreign land.
No they were all chosen because God called them and subsequently gave them what they needed to accomplish His will.
He literally cleansed Isaiah’s dirty lips with a burning coal and told him, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, your sin atoned for!”(Is. 6:7b)
He encouraged Jeremiah in his immature lack of confidence by saying, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 1:7-8)
And Daniel and Ezekiel were freed from their servitude in a foreign land to speak freely in the authority of the one true God.
This is a wonderful example for us.
For we have seen the glory of the Risen Lord Jesus seated upon His eternal throne too!
We have the truth of the one true God.
And because of His death and resurrection from the cross our guilt is taken away and our sins are atoned for.
Yes we may just want to lie flat on the floor in thankfulness to our God for all that He has done, but He tells us today to stand up, for He is the one sending us…
…sending us to the members who have wandered away from our ministry that need to be brought back…
…Sending us to the rebellious ones who never knew Jesus at all…
….Sending us even to the ones who knew God, but rejected Him, to the peril of their souls.
For God promises us…that although they maybe rebellious, impudent, stubborn and even not listen at all; Jesus will still call to them through us, so they can never say on the faithful day…why didn’t you tell me?
Ezekiel’s call is just like our call, only this time they will listen, because we’re not calling them, their Savior is.