3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. (Ezekiel 2:3-5)
Several years ago, I was ticketed for driving solo in the HOV lane in Nashville, Tennessee. I wasn’t in the lane for very long, and it sure didn’t seem like a big deal. But when I studied the traffic ticket, to my surprise it said that I was required to appear in traffic court! There was no wiggle room. The law said I must go, so I went.
Our justice system assumes that we will show proper respect to the governing authorities. I obey the law because of the respect I have for the lawgiver. I answer the summons because of the authority of the judge.
In many respects, Isaiah and Ezekiel have very similar stories. Both men are priests-turned-prophets. Both had breathtaking visions of God in His glory. Isaiah’s was in the temple, while Ezekiel’s was on the banks of the Chebar canal in Babylon. Both men had their vision of God in the midst of national crisis. For Isaiah, King Uzziah had just died. For Ezekiel, the crisis was the deportation of the Jews from Jerusalem.
In addition, both Ezekiel and Isaiah had ministries that were destined to fail from the start. Isaiah was sent to a people who would be “ever hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9). Similarly, God sent Ezekiel to Israel, a “rebellious nation.”
Ezekiel was under no illusion that the people would automatically listen to his message. In fact, God found six different ways to describe the people as rebellious in just three verses (Ezekiel 2:3-5)!
For all their similarities, however, I see one big difference between Isaiah and Ezekiel. In Isaiah 6, God asks the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8). But in Ezekiel 2, God doesn’t ask; He commands:
And he said to me, “Son of man,[a] stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. Ezekiel 2:1-3
In other words, Isaiah volunteered; Ezekiel was drafted. Not that it makes that much of a difference. God never asks a question He doesn’t know the answer to, so His “question” to Isaiah was probably more of a Godfather moment– it was an offer Isaiah couldn’t refuse.
Nevertheless, perhaps that is why the Lord gave Ezekiel such an awe-inspiring vision of Himself on His throne. Knowing the people would probably question Ezekiel’s authority, God wanted to make sure Ezekiel would have no question about God’s authority. When God summons, you obey. No questions asked.
What about you? When the Lord gives you instructions, do you obey without question? Perhaps all of us need a renewed vision of God on His throne from time to time. He has the authority. We need to answer His summons.
Father, when you call, help me to answer.