4. God With Us: Ezekiel
In your uncertainty and anxiety, look to the presence of God with you now
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
Isn’t it baffling how often we choose to struggle alone when God is right there with us? While God’s heart is for us to live life with him, we often resort to figuring things out on our own. But when we’re aware of God’s presence with us, when we look to him in moments of uncertainty or anxiety, we inevitably move forward in the right direction. God’s presence is what leads to abundant life!
This reality is why the Israelite priest Ezekiel is so devastated when he sees a vision of God’s presence leaving Israel’s temple. Ezekiel has been taken into exile away from his homeland along with his fellow Israelites. God gives Ezekiel several visions to convict Israel of the sin that led to their exile: they have forsaken their relationship with God, worshiping idols and turning from God’s ways.
In one of these visions, Ezekiel sees God’s throne-chariot leaving Israel’s temple and moving towards Babylon, the place of Israel’s exile. This is an overwhelming reality for Ezekiel because it signifies God’s presence leaving its dwelling place among his people! The vision is an announcement of judgment upon Israel and their unfaithfulness.
But as the book continues, we see that God does not leave Ezekiel or his people in their sin or without hope.
God also gives Ezekiel visions of a future reality. God promises a king of Israel that will bring about restoration. The people themselves will be restored and given new and transformed hearts. In one vision, Ezekiel sees God breathe on a valley of dry bones, and his breath brings life and transforms the bones into living people! God is conveying that he will one day renew the spiritual deadness of his people.
In a final vision, Ezekiel sees God’s presence entering a new temple located in a city named The Lord is There. From this temple, Ezekiel sees a river flowing to a barren land and bringing life to everything it touches. This image conveys that God’s presence will one day bring a cosmic restoration. Evil will be judged; death will be done away with; and the earth will be renewed.
The vision of a future king would have brought comfort to Israel whose current king was dethroned. The promise of a new heart would have brought hope to the Israelites who had realized their inability to obey God on their own. The assurance of God’s judgment on evil would have brought relief to the Israelite people currently suffering under oppression. But most of all, the reality of God’s restored presence would have given unspeakable joy to the exiles who currently felt abandoned by God.
Do you resonate with any of the Israelites’ experiences: discouraged by your sin; weighed down by the brokenness around you; distant from God; or apprehensive about your future? Ezekiel’s vision holds out hope for those walking with Christ today because it reminds us what Jesus accomplished! Jesus’s death and resurrection meant God could dwell in the hearts of believers, giving them constant access to his presence.
If you are in Christ, know that you are never alone. God is always with you, equipping you with the power that leads to abundant life and strengthening you with hope for a restored world full of his presence.
RESPOND: Are you wrestling with something on your own right now? Take a moment to look to God and his presence with you.