Day 26 Ezekiel 2-3 ... Toughening Up

Orthodox Jewish rabbis forbid anyone under the age of thirty to read the first three chapters of Ezekiel. No young person, they reason, is ready for such a direct encounter with the glory of the Lord. Indeed, Ezekiel himself barely survived the experience. He kept falling on his face, and was knocked speechless for seven days.

Such exalted revelations were part of God's training regimen, a process of toughening up the prophet for a demanding task. With Isaiah sawn in two and Jeremiah thrown in a well, the prophets of Judah had plenty of reason for alarm. What might befall Ezekiel as he took the word of God to an ornery people in the heart of enemy territory? To embolden him, God gave Ezekiel an experience he would never forget or doubt, no matter what difficulties he might confront.

God warned Ezekiel that few Israelites, if any, would listen to his message. He had to become as stubborn and yielding as the audience he addressed. As a result, Ezekiel lived a lonely life. People thought of him as a dreamy storyteller, and scoffed at his pessimistic predictions of Jerusalem's fall. Still, despite the negative tone of his prophecies, Ezekiel never once lost hope. He could see past the tragedies of the present day to a future time when God would restore his people and his temple. Ezekiel's faith could not be shaken, because he had received a vision of the glory of the Lord. Due to his priestly training, he undoubtedly recognized the light, the fire, and the glow - Israelites had seen those images in the pillar of fire in the wilderness, and in the cloud tat descended into Solomon's temple. Now the nation was in shambles, its chief citizens in exile. But even there, in Babylon, the glory of the Lord appeared to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel looked upon the glory not once, but twice, at the beginning of his ministry. That experience alone gave him the courage he would need to fight off the enemies - "briers and thorns and scorpions" - that surrounded him.

Point to Ponder: What obstacles do people face today when they try to deliver a message from God?