The Glory of the Lord (continued)
An Unpopular Man
I do not want to stay with too much detail, but it is very necessary, for our encouragement, that we should get the setting of the glory of the Lord. Here Ezekiel is with these captives. Now, a man who has to bring home to a people the reasons for their condition and for the judgments of God; to speak faithfully in the name of the Lord, without compromising on any principle; who will put his own very life and future in the balances of his ministry and be thoroughly faithful. He will not condone any wrong. He will not compromise on any principle in order to preserve their favor and his own position. The man who really has the glory of God at heart at any cost is a very unpopular man.
And Ezekiel was an unpopular man among the exiles - so unpopular that he had to resort to all sorts of seeming tricks in order to gain their attention, to get a hearing. Look at the things to which he resorted, and had to do - spectacular things; unusual things; unnatural things. Sometimes he seemed to act the fool to draw attention, so that people should look in his direction. It was a hard time to get a hearing, to have any attention at all; he was the most unpopular man, perhaps, in the country. It was a desperately difficult situation that he was in among his own people there.
The Heavens Opened In Difficult Situations
In the midst of such a situation - which I do not think I exaggerate; indeed, I could add much more to it from these very chapters - in the midst of such a difficult and, for the time being, seemingly hopeless situation, he tells us that the heavens were opened, and he saw visions of God! There is no situation so hopeless as to make it impossible for the glory of God to break in; no situation that can shut God out and be too impossible for a fresh manifestation of His glory. Do you not take heart from that, if it is true? Well, here it is! It is an amazing thing when you take the whole setting, and the whole circumstances, and the whole provision. You could say, Well, that is altogether beyond any hope; that has broken Jeremiah's heart; that has brought the wrath of God - destroyed Jerusalem and sent the people far away: what can you hope for in such a situation? And, right in the midst of that, Ezekiel says: "I saw the heavens open, and visions of God." And he sums it all up: "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."
Now, difficult as it is for us to take hold of that, really to believe it, this may be a message to us. Perhaps we are sometimes very near to despair over the whole situation. Let it come to us as a message from the Lord. In our own lives, or in the place where we are, perhaps as a company of the Lord's people, things create such difficulty that sometimes we get near to giving it all up. Ezekiel might well have done that, for he had far more occasion for doing it than you or I have; but right in there - there - "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." "The heavens were opened." We have thought and said much about an "open heaven." All we will say about that, for the present, is that, if there is any indication at all that the Heavens are open, that s always the most hopeful thing in any situation. You may be having some difficult times in some difficult people - well, Ezekiel had some difficult people; you may be having much discouragement; there may be things which you feel to be very wrong, and so on. And yet, when you come together and give yourselves to the worship of the Lord, there is a wonderful sense of unction. You just become occupied with the Lord! For the time being, at any rate, you let the other go, and the Lord becomes your Center - the Heavens are opened! While that lasts, there is every hope for your assembly; there is every hope for the future. There is nothing more hopeless than a closed Heaven.
(continued with # 42)