Brace yourself, ’cause this is gonna get real crazy, real fast. Ezekiel has ‘visions’, and I’d say he was trippin’ on something, but what do I know? Read for yourself and decide. And pay attention, because the craziness in Ezekiel will be important when we finally get to Revelation. The crazy stuff starts with v 5 and continues for the rest of the chapter, ending with the vision of a man that Ezekiel assumes to be ‘the glory of the Lord’.
Nutty as this story is, it has been believed and celebrated in song and art for centuries. And apologists still try to explain it rationally (headshake). Who would believe this nonsense from any other source than the bible?
Right off the bat, there’s something different here. The voice from the ‘glory of the lord’ creature in chapter 1 speaks to Ezekiel, addressing him as “Son of Man” instead of by name. Yahweh has never used that form of address before. There’s nothing remarkable about the message – Ezekiel imagines that god wants him to go and preach to the Israelites. (What a surprise.) But then god reaches out his hand to pass Ezekiel a scroll filled with messages of doom and gloom, and god tells him to eat it. Besides crazy, this is interesting, because I don’t remember any actual physical interactions between god and man since the beginning of the OT (like in Genesis 32 when god touched Jacob’s thigh). Later books of the OT only report voices, visions, etc – nothing physical. This guy Ezekiel is right wacko.
If you’re reading a modern translation of the bible, it’ll be much easier to understand, but you’ll miss some of the amusing turns of phrase in the KJV. So here, the vision (supposedly god or whatever) tells Ezekiel to eat the scroll: “cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee” (v 3). The NLT turns this into the much simpler and uninteresting “Fill your stomach with this”. Then he (it?) tells Ezekiel to go and preach, even though he is well aware that the people won’t listen. (v 4-7). Well then, what’s the point? And it seems that in v 14-15, the spirit physically picks Ezekiel up and carries him away. In v 18-21, god explains the rules for why Ezekiel should warn the people (even though we all know that they won’t listen). The bottom line is, the sinners will die anyway, but if Ezekiel fails to warn them, he’ll be held responsible and die, too. After that, Ezekiel has his second vision, where god explains that he will be tied up… heck, you read it or you won’t believe me (v 24-27).
I cannot summarize this chapter in any meaningful way, because it’s completely inane. Just read it. Ezekiel has to draw the city of Jerusalem on a brick, and then lie on one side for 390 days (more than a year!), while tied up with ropes. While he is lying there, he is to live on special bread, baked using human dung as fuel (YUM!) (v 12); nope, cancel that order – god relents after Ezekiel complains, so he gets to use cow dung instead. (Is that better?) Then god promises to bring famine and drought to the area (no reason given). I couldn’t make this stuff up!!!