Ezekiel is 30 years old. Judah is in captivity to Babylon, Jerusalem is in ruins, the temple of God is empty. Into this communal chaos, God calls Ezekiel to be a prophet to his people. When you are promoted to prophesy, you better be certain God is speaking, thus chapter one of Ezekiel proclaims, "the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God" (Ezekiel 1:1). The chapter is to be experienced more than explained, for the mysteries of God rise beyond our grasp, but one message is plainly clear, though God's people are captive in exile, their God remains seated on the throne of heaven and earth.
The job of prophet is to tell the truth, "and whether they listen or fail to listen-for they are a rebellious people-they will know that a prophet has been among them" (Ezekiel 2:4-5). Jack Nicholson was right, we can't handle the truth; but God summons his prophet to say it anyway. "When I say to a wicked person, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood" (Ezekiel 3:18).
The entertainer Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) does not believe he needs saving. He is an atheist; he believes there is no God. He believes there is no everlasting life. A man approached Penn Jillette with a gift, a Gideon's Bible. The man believed Penn Jillette needs saving. I know what Penn Jillette thinks about the Bible, about God, about heaven and hell and salvation. I thought I knew what he would think about this man.
"He was a very very very good man," said Jillette. I was wrong. Penn Jillette respected this man who shared his faith. "I don't respect people who don't proselytize," reasoned Jillette. "How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them about it?" Good question. Whether or not Penn Jillette welcomed the word, he knew that a prophet had come close. He called him a good man.
Everlasting God, out of love You created us. You created us in Your image and You created us good. I can only imagine what it was like to know You back then. No sin, no separation, no need of a Savior. I could see You clearly and worship You fully.
Now I've sinned, I am separated, and I truly need a Savior, and you delivered One. You gave Your Son and brought me back close to You with the certainty of eternity in Your presence. You sent Your Son for me, and He came. You now send me to others. I will go and I will tell the truth.