Ezekiel 1-4

Several different things today.

First, his vision is so bizarre, so, well, disturbing. I don’t think that’s actually what anything looks like. I doubt if anyone else were to see the exact same creatures, the exact same revelation, it would look exactly the same. I think it’s just to make it very clear how very other spiritual beings really are. They are not physical. While they may be able to take physical form or appearance on occasion, they really don’t fit into the limits of our physical existence or perception.

Secondly, God’s explanation of Ezekiel’s responsibility is a pretty good answer for why we bother sending out missionaries. If God wants to reach a certain people, won’t he do so? Why does he need us?

Well, because he chose us. That’s pretty much it. God could use just about anything as that spark that prompts reflection and conviction and redemption. But he choose us. He could use dreams. He has. He could use visions. He has. He could use ordinary life experiences as an open door to start a conversation with someone’s heart and prompt them to seek him out. He has. But we’re relational people. We are built for conversation and interaction and connection. God would much rather use us to carry his word, to discuss his word, and to teach his word.

Yes, as God clearly tells Ezekiel here, he knows who will respond positively and who won’t, but his desire is to give us all our best opportunities, to ensure we all have our best chances to make the right choice. He would redeem us all, but he allows us to choose for ourselves. And we are all responsible for our own actions. Even in the scenario where Ezekiel does not carry the word, the punishment for the sinners is just, but Ezekiel will then also bear responsibility for his own sin.

God is capable of picking up the slack when we disobey, when we refuse to go; he does not need us. But once he has called us, we have a responsibility, and should we disobey, we are guilty.

It’s so easy, when we fail, when we mess up, to look around and mitigate our offense. We weren’t really needed. They wouldn’t have listened anyway. It wasn’t really all that bad. But we are each judged entirely on our own. It does not matter how anyone would have responded or how anyone around us failed in their own responsibility. We are judged only our own calling, our own responsibility, and how we responded.

Finally, we have another example of someone challenging God’s orders. Abraham negotiated with God. Here, Ezekiel questions God’s directions. He complains that the orders go too far, that it is asking too much of him. He doesn’t challenge the extended period of misery he’s being ordered to undergo, or question the harsh diet he’s being ordered to follow. All he has a problem with is the cooking fuel. And he speaks up. And God adjusts the plan for him, allows him to use a different fuel.

Questioning is not inherently wrong. Responding honestly is not inherently wrong. Christ prays to have his own impending execution cancelled. We are allowed, encouraged, to respond honestly, to make requests. God does not seek blind obedience; he wants a relationship. Yes, he owed humble submission and faithful obedience, but we are people that he gave emotions and personality.

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