The Glory of the Lord (continued)
Some Examples from the New Testament (continued)
Ezekiel and the Glory
True, everything may seem to contradict this. We come to the prophecies of Ezekiel, and there is plenty that seems to contradict this glory. But you cannot get away from the fact that the glory is disclosed in the very first chapter. It is not reserved to the end, so that you have to wade through all the wearisome tale of judgments and woe, and then at last find that God comes out with things in His own hands - so to speak just manages to survive. You are told right at the very beginning that everything is governed by glory. In everything that is going to happen, everything that is going to be said,right on to the end, the governing thing is the glory of God; it is there as the very foundation of everything. We must take note of that. What is God's end? Paul has seen it, and has given it to us in a matchless fragment: "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages" (Ephesians 3:21). You cannot get beyond that! That is finality; that is the end - "unto the age of the ages, glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus."
We come then to Ezekiel. There is much here to help us as to God's own concern for His glory. We may have a concern for the Lord's glory, the Lord has a far greater concern for His glory that we have. This book of Ezekiel is a book just full of God's own concern for His glory. Notice how precise Ezekiel is, even to the year, and the month, and the day of the month. "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the so of Buzi ..." (1:3) - where he was, when he was, how he was. It is like the Lord, moving so exactly, so meticulously, in this matter, and laying hold of this man. Remember, it had to be a laying hold of him, because it resulted in a complete change in his whole vocation. Ezekiel was a trained priest; he belonged to the priesthood; he was a young man, who was expecting that through his life he would fulfill the ministry of a priest. This broke in and upset his whole career and his whole vocation: he had to change his whole manner and method of life, from priesthood to prophet. It was something very strong in this man's case. It is interesting to notice that his name, "Ezekiel," means "God will strengthen." For the glory of God that is very necessary, especially in conditions such as those in which Ezekiel lived.
Ezekiel, thus, as a young man, was carried away with the captives to Babylon, and was "among the captives by the river Chebar," he tells us (1:1, 3); and, from what we know and what we read, it was a pretty hopeless situation. We know something of the conditions in Jerusalem from the prophecies and ministry of Jeremiah: it was pretty bad there; poor Jeremiah had his heart broken, as he had ministered in Jerusalem. But there are reasons for saying that, whatever it was like in Jerusalem, it was even more difficult in Babylon - that is, so far as the people were concerned to whom Ezekiel ministered. They were a difficult, recalcitrant people. Read these early chapters; see Ezekiel's encounter with them, and the measures to which he had to resort.
(continued with # 41 - "An Unpopular Man")