Chapter 1 ends with Ezekiel falling to the ground, and chapter 2 begins with God raising him up. “Stand up, son of dust, and I will talk to you. And the Spirit entered into me as he spoke, and set me on my feet.” There Ezekiel was, lying on his face in the ruins. God used the vision to expose two things; glimpses of God’s holiness and man’s wretchedness.
Where was Ezekiel to go from there? He was paralyzed from the inexpressible glory he had just witnessed, and too nauseated from his own sinful condition. The only thing left to mitigate the extremes of God’s holiness and his wretchedness was the Spirit of God. From then on, throughout the book of Ezekiel, we see his encounter with the Spirit.
Then the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet (Ezekiel 3: 24). The Spirit gave Ezekiel the courage to stand. He knew he was undeserving of the privilege to see the glory of God. But, with a touch from the Spirit, he found new strength. In the ruins, many lie on their faces in the shame of their wretchedness. However, once we turn, turn and live, once we unite our hearts with Gods, and keep going straight forward, then God’s Spirit will envelope and equip us for the journey in the ruins. God’s Spirit will raise us up and give us the courage to stand firmly while in the ruins.
The Spirit lifted me up, and took me away to Tel Abib… I went in bitterness and anger, but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. And I sat among them, overwhelmed, for seven days (Ezekiel 3: 14-15) I’m not sure exactly what made Ezekiel so bitter and anger. I can imagine, he knew being in the ruins was already punishment enough, and then having to work in the ruins was no easy task. He’d seen and definitely heard, how the people treated the prophets and now He had work to do…arduous work. But, the hand of the Lord was strong upon him. God’s Spirit will strengthen us to work as we journey through the ruins.
The Spirit lifted me up into the sky (Ezekiel 8: 3). The Spirit of God revealed everything Ezekiel needed to see, know and understand about the ruins. God gave him answers to the questions, “why the ruins?” by showing Ezekiel all the people had done. He showed Ezekiel, what He will do about the ruinous mess. He helped Ezekiel understand how significant the ruin experience is to redemption, restoration and eternity. We won’t fully understand everything, but we will understand what God wants us to know. God’s Spirit will teach us about our ruins.
As we will see later on, Ezekiel couldn’t have journeyed through the shattering ruins on his own. In the ruins, we will feel crushed beneath the crucibles unless the hand of God is upon us, as it was on Ezekiel. The ruins of sin is beyond our capability to fathom. It’s beyond our capability to conquer. It’s beyond our capability to repair. Many believe that they can ‘fix things” with more money, with new relationships, with better jobs. However, achieving all of these things in the ruins, doesn’t fix the ruins, but congest and contaminate the already ruinous circumstances.
It’s like having a jar of dirty water, and deciding to pour clean water into the jar to purify the dirty water. But, no matter how many cups of purified water we pour into the jar, the dirt is still there. In the ruins, only the Spirit can show us, how ruinous our circumstances are. Only the Spirit can call us to turn. Only the Spirit can set us on our feet and strengthen us to journey through the ruins. God raised up Samson. He raised up Nehemiah, Esther, Joseph, among many others whose lives would have otherwise been surpassing. The best way out of the ruins, is God’s way. Our way, is bound to fail. Our way is often temporary. God’s way is eternal. God’s intention is not to get us out of our current circumstances, His intention is to get us into Heaven. Take heart, if you are in the ruins, His Spirit will raise you up, set you on your feet, give you courage, and show you the way out of the ruins to the path of eternity.
Ezekiel 11: 19, “I will give you one heart and a new spirit; I will take from you your hearts of stone and give you tender hearts of love for God.”
Artwork: Donald Keefe (Used with permission)