Year 3 Day 27
Read - Ezekiel 1:1-3
Message - Alan Burke
You might have read these verse from the beginning of the book of Ezekiel and been left at least at points scratching your head. Like when was the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day that Ezekiel was among the exiles by the Kebar River and where is the Kebar River? We are then told he saw visions of God and the next thing it is the fifth of the month, the fifth year of the exile! Before we think of those questions and likely a few more I’ll tell you a bit about the book of Ezekiel. Well it’s about the prophet Ezekiel, the title of the book is a give away and it records his preaching to the people of God of the divine judgement upon His people for their faithlessness. Yet it ends with the message of restoration, of hope, but it is not for the peoples sake but for God’s purposes in bringing forth a redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ. The name Ezekiel means “God strengthens” or “May God strengthen,”
These opening verses give us some context, firstly we are told in that it was ”In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day”. It is unusual, but when we know that the age that priests began their priestly duty in the temple in Jerusalem was thirty it begins to make sense. God was calling Ezekiel to begin his priestly service, not in the temple but among the exiles in Babylonia. We know that it is Babylonia because it is there that the river Kebar was and verse three makes clear to us even if we missed it that this is taking place in the land of the Babylonians. So Ezekiel, far away from the promised land, living as an exile, at the age that he would have been going forward to begin his priestly duties in the temple, instead sees the heavens opened and saw a vision of God calling him to be a prophet.
Then in verse two we are told it was the “fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin”. This helps us date what is going on here, the exile of King Jerhoiachin began in 597 B.C. when Jerhoichain was 18 at the time and had been king for only three months (2 Kings 24:8) and so it is 593 B.C.. And Ezekiel himself was part of the second group of people that Nebuchadnezzar took from Judah to Babylon, what Nebuchadnezzar was doing was taking the best of the best from Judah as punishment for their revolt under the reign of Jehoiakim.
Ezekiel, “saw visions of God” (v1) and “the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest” (v3) and even in the land of the Babylonians “There the hand of the Lord was upon him” (v3). So Ezekiel an exile, among the exiles, far away from the dwelling place of God, unable to begin or fulfil his duties as a priest. Yet what is abundantly clear from the outset, as Ezekiel saw visions of God as the word of the Lord came to him, as the hand of the Lord was upon him is that the Lord was at work, speaking to these exiles.
Even though God symbolically dwelt in Jerusalem the Lord God is not like the gods of the nations, limited and bound to a place, no He is the God of all the earth, the true and living God who is the God of all of creation. Their God, our God, the living and true God is the God of all the earth. For us from the outset this is a reminder that should give us comfort. The Lord God we come before today isn’t confined by a building, a place, there is nowhere that is beyond his reach or we can hide as Jonah found out the Lord God is God of all the earth and he dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, and one day we will dwell with him for eternity, that is our hope, whether we feel like we are in distant lands in exile God is with us, with you as you repent and believe by His Spirit.
Q31 What is effectual calling?
Effectual calling is the work of God’ s Spirit, (2 Tim. 1:9, 2 Thess. 2:13–14) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, (Acts 2:37) enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, (Acts 26:18) and renewing our wills, (Ezek. 36:26–27) he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (John 6:44–45, Phil. 2:13)