I took a trip down ‘Nostalgia Avenue’ this week, when I was reminded of the British Gas TV Advert from the 1980’s (Yes, it was that long ago!!), starring Bob Hoskins, and the strap-line was ‘Don’t you just love being in control’ and then when Hoskins flicked his thumb a gas flame appeared above it.
I think we would all like to believe that we are in control of our lives; and in some areas we do have control; yet there are times when things happen that are totally out of our control. Often things happen and it’s a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’.
The last few months of ‘lockdown’ has been a clear reminder that things can change very quickly and there is little that we can do about it.
The people of Israel were in exile in Babylon and one of the Old Testament prophets that God raised up at the time was Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a young trainee priest when the Babylonians marched him off to Babylon, and when he’d turned 30 he’d have qualified – if only he had been in Jerusalem to finish his training! Life hadn’t gone as he had hoped; he may have understandably had a heavy heart; but God met Ezekiel in a place where he didn’t want to be and through no fault of his own. In Ezekiel’s ‘imprisonment’ he had a spectacular encounter with God that changed his life and he became God’s prophet of the day.
Ezekiel 1:3 – ‘There the hand of the Lord was upon him’, or as the New Living Translation puts it, ‘Ezekiel felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him’……… God was working out HIS Kingdom purpose and Ezekiel had been called to take a message of judgement and restoration to the people of Israel. Ezekiel had to remind the people that Jerusalem’s judgement was not yet finished, and this didn’t go down too well with them – they wanted messages of comfort and hope. However, in 586BC, Jerusalem was destroyed and Ezekiel’s words were proven to be true, and from then on, the people of Israel listened carefully to his preaching.
In Ezekiel 1:1, we read how Ezekiel’s shattered hopes were transformed when the ‘heavens were opened’ and Ezekiel experienced God in a new way. Some commentators suggest that at this point, Ezekiel was filled with the Spirit of God. Whatever your opinion, one thing is for sure, this encounter proved to Ezekiel that God’s glorious presence was right there with him and his exiled people.
God was beginning a ‘new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19), foreshadowing the coming of the future Messiah, and the pouring out of His Spirit on his people (Joel 2:28). One day, God’ Spirit would dwell in the hearts of all believers, and we are recipients of that same Spirit today!
In Ezekiel 11, God reminds the people just who is in control; and that same God loves us so much and He works His heavenly purpose out in every circumstance; strengthening us in our weakness, transforming us in holiness for His glory and service, and drawing us close to His heart.So, who is in control??????????