August 8, 2021
"In the thirteenth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, while I was among the exiles by the Chebar Canal, the heavens opened up..."
“In the thirteenth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, while I was among the exiles by the Chebar Canal, the heavens opened up and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month – it was the year of king Jehoiachin’s exile – the Word of the Lord came directly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar Canal. And the Lord’s hand was on him there.” Ezekiel 1:1-3
Christianity is a religion of the Word. That is why I cannot trust any congregation or religious institution, which does not esteem God’s Word and vigorously exhort its congregants to read it. That is why these Bible devotionals exist. In the Bible, God has revealed all that He requires of us to know concerning Himself, His plans, and purposes. Hundreds of thousands of words, written over 1,500 years by some forty different authors, underline that words are essential to our faith.
But in literature, a stubborn truth persists in making itself known: most people remember pictures better than they remember words. Remember the old saying, “a picture paints a thousand words”? It is true. That is why the Bible’s writers, guided by the Holy Spirit, seasoned their words with vivid word pictures to help communicate something of the thoughts of God to the feeble minds of men. Ezekiel is full of word pictures!
G. K. Chesterton once wrote in a children’s picture book:
Stand up, and keep your childishness,
Read all the pedant’s creeds and strictures
But don’t believe in anything
That can’t be told in coloured pictures!
The opening verse of Ezekiel’s book relates how, along with the text of the Revelation, this prophecy is packed with intricate word sketches: “I saw visions of God.” Colored pictures abound throughout Ezekiel’s prophecy, but as we will soon see, the images are not Ezekiel’s but God’s. More importantly, these God-given pictures need interpreting. It is a message and not a picture that Ezekiel will be called to deliver to God’s people.
Most followers of Jesus have never read Ezekiel, figuring experts should explain such Scriptures. I say it’s time to grow up, do some thinking, and ask the Lord what He is trying to communicate to you, personally. Understand that God gave His Word to share with individuals, not just scholars. It is you whom He wants an ongoing personal relationship with, not an exclusive club of PhDs.
A word of caution, though: Pictures, without correct Biblical interpretation, are dangerous vehicles for truth. People are prone to interpret them however they want. We must remember that the book of Ezekiel is essentially Messianic. While Ezekiel begins with words of unremitting judgments, he ends with restoration and blessing, a message America could use these days!