Ezekiel -- 7.8 - 7.20
With Ezekiel, we come to one of the major prophets of the Exile period, along with Jeremiah and Daniel. But Ezekiel, with his extraordinary visions of 4-faced 4-winged cherubim, the throne of sapphire, and the Temple with the River flowing from it, was unique. Here was a man who grew up in a priest's household, was educated and trained as a priest, but was taken to Babylon in the second of three deportations (597). This was a thorough dislocation: loss of homeland, loss of occupation, and spiritual devastation. Had not God abandoned them? There, in his 30th year, himself one of the dry bones he later described, the Spirit of the Lord blew upon him, and he rose and stood and prophesied.
This man had been trained for another dispensation: that of Law, commandment, sacrifice, ritual. He knew the precise steps in making sin offerings, he could judge between leprous and non-leprous skin conditions, he knew every jot and tittle of Sabbath-keeping. All of this was now abolished. The foundation of the entire priesthood had been swept away, and all his preparation with it. And in the place of a career of sheep-cutting and rule-tending, God bestowed upon Ezekiel a ministry in the Spirit:
He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me (Eze 2:1-2).
And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat (Eze 3:1-2).
This scroll signified both the authority and gifting of the prophet. And it made Ezekiel into the "van Gogh" of the prophetic tradition: his words pulsed with energy, color, emotion, power, even to excess.