Seeing with Spiritual Glasses
The man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.” Ezekiel 40:4
“When you reach a certain age,” my eye doctor said. I knew what was coming. He prescribed “progressive” lenses: three types of lenses in one with a gradient change for distance (top), for intermediate (middle), and for near vision (bottom).
Sometimes I also need to put on spiritual glasses to show what’s just beyond the current situation, what’s way down the road, as well as what’s going to happen in eternity.
God gave Ezekiel spiritual glasses. He was one of the Israelites taken into exile to Babylon. Though born into a priestly family and trained to be a priest, he couldn’t minister in the temple at Jerusalem. After five years in exile, Ezekiel received a call from God to become a prophet. He prophesied in Babylon for the next twenty-two years.
One of the prophecies God gave him was that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. Some time later, both the temple and city would be rebuilt. Meanwhile, God showed Ezekiel that His Presence was right there with the exiles in Babylon. Not only that, but He was there on His “portable” throne in all His glory (Ezekiel 1:4-28).
In Ezekiel’s time, gods were considered local. If you were traveling, you had to carry them with you as Rachel did when she left her father’s house (Genesis 31:34). God made it very clear to Ezekiel that the Israelites shouldn’t make graven images of Him because He was sovereign over the whole world.
Removed from the comfortable rituals of religion he had grown up with and confronted with the truth that God’s Presence was not limited by a certain temple or city, Ezekiel began to develop spiritual eyes.
God’s message to Ezekiel was meant as an encouragement for the people. His message is also for us. No matter where we are, in whatever our circumstances, God is not only with us, but His glory also surrounds us. Whether we see it or not.
Do you feel like an exile, wondering why God has placed you in certain circumstances? Ask Him to give you spiritual glasses to see your situation from His perspective.
Ezekiel may have questioned why God had allowed him to be exiled. What did God tell him was the purpose in Ezekiel 40:4? Can you describe a time when you questioned why God put you in uncomfortable circumstances? Did you eventually see His purpose?
Why do you think God showed Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed (Ezekiel 4:1-14)? How would that affect the exiles? Would it make a difference in how they lived in Babylon?
Read Jeremiah 29:4-7. What advice did another prophet give to the exiles in Assyria? How can we apply that advice to our role with neighbors and the city in which we live?
You might also want to read Ezekiel: Part Two.
Nancy J. Baker