"The Persistent Energies of God Toward His End (continued)
Now let us come back to our part of the study, for we are still going to spend some time in the first section. I think that it is most important that we should spend much time with this section. I suspect that from time to time you will be saying, "Well, I do wish that he would get on with the book," but I am in no hurry to cover a great deal of ground. I want to make sure that we really do get hold of these fundamental truths.
So, let us come back to the first three chapters and see the prophet's preparation for his ministry. This is a matter which concerns us very much - how the prophet was prepared for his ministry - for what was true of Ezekiel is true concerning us spiritually. We saw the time factor in his ministry, the situation to which he was called to minister, and the expressed Word of the Lord to him personally.
Now we come to the "visions." You notice what this says: "... I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." And I want to say right here that while the form of these visions will not be repeated in the case of the Lord's servants, the spiritual principles and meaning must be true of us all. Our purpose is to get behind what is objective to the meaning of things, and we shall all the time be trying to get at the spiritual meaning. You see, the objective side is only the temporary method; it is just the means that God employed for the time being. The spiritual meaning is the permanent and the real.
The Prophet was Given to See the Way
So, we come to the visions. Ezekiel said: "I saw visions of God." That had two meanings: 1. that means that the visions came from God, they were visions which God gave him, and 2. it meant that they were the visions of the goings of God. God was on the move, God was taking a certain course, and the prophet was given to see the ways that God was taking: that is the meaning of "visions of God." But before he saw visions of God, it says "the heavens were opened." I am going to speak mostly about that. But before I come to that, there are one or two things to say.
The visions that were given to Ezekiel varied in time, in nature, and in method; that is, they varied at different times - they did not all come to the prophet at the same time. The Lord gave something to the prophet, and this had the effect of bringing the prophet down on his face before the Lord. That is what it says at the end of chapter one. Then the Lord put him on his feet, and this kind of thing happened from time to time. My point is that there were intervals in the prophet's life, and in those intervals the prophet had to think about what had been shown. Now, I want to put a line underneath that. We must have such intervals in our life before the Lord. If the Lord shows us something, we must take a time to consider it, to face what it means and what it implies. That is a necessity! A very great deal of value is lost by our just continually going on, and not giving those periods for quietness with the Lord over what He is saying. There must be a kind of Sabbath-quiet to meditate upon what the Lord is showing, and to adjust ourselves to it.
The Lord says something, and then we go and give it out, and we go on and on like that, and we do not pause to think about what the Lord is really saying - what this really implies, and to adjust ourselves to it. I believe that a very great deal of the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul came out of his two years of silence in the desert. He had the vision of the Lord on the way to Damascus. It was a tremendous vision that brought him down on his face. It required two years of silence to adjust himself to the meaning of that vision. I have often tried to imagine what was going on during those two years - what it was that Paul had to adjust himself to, how he had to real all his Bible over again in the light of that vision. He had to reconstruct his whole theology in the light of that vision: he had to think things all over again in the light of that vision. And I believe that a great deal that we have from Paul came out of those two years.
(continued with # 13)