Ezekiel’s call to ministry was overwhelming. His vision of the glory of God is filled with the phrase ‘looking something like’ or close equivalents. He describes terrifying creatures, a glorious throne, amber and a crystal dome. But it’s clear that these and the other details of his vision are just the closest that he can get in words to what he has seen. One image piles onto another as he tries to get across the wonderful, terrifying experience of the vision of the LORD.
His ministry was no less overwhelming. After the gift of God’s word (in good Ezekiel fashion, described in concrete terms as eating the scroll) it’s made clear to Ezekiel what his responsibility will be. He is to obey and to pass on all that God speaks to him – what notice people take of it is then up to them, but if he has warned them and they do not respond, he is not to blame.
That proclamation, though, isn’t just in words but in compelling actions – setting up a model city under siege, lying still as a symbol of captivity for over a year and then publicly shaving with a sword are all a bit weird but they’d certainly get people’s attention!
If we today are called to speak to our culture, it’s tempting to think that we just have to say something to fulfil our duty to God – then it’s up to our hearers, not to us. But Ezekiel wasn’t only told to speak, he was also commanded to act. Whether we act by well-aimed PR stunts or by the day-to-day actions of caring for our communities, that action to gain people’s attention and willingness to hear us is part of our prophetic call as much as Ezekiel’s. How we speak God’s word matters as well as the content of what we say.
So how can we act in such a way that people want to hear what God has told us?