TODAYS’ READING: Ezekiel 1–4
Ezekiel was a young priest taken to exile in Babylon in 597 BC. He appears to have received his prophetic and missionary call five years later around 592–3 BC. A contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel preached the same message of judgment on Judah and the nations. Ezekiel prophesied that the temple would be destroyed, for the national breaking of covenant meant God’s glory long since left the building and no godless stones endure forever. What will endure forever and among all nations is the glory of God, which is how Ezekiel begins.
Ezekiel was exiled in the first wave, and his compatriots were consumed with going home. Ezekiel on the other hand was consumed with his vision of God, a vision he cannot adequately express in words. The first missionary lesson of Ezekiel is that a vision of God makes you forget your natural gravitation to the comforts of home and draws you to the fearsome discomfort of the glory of God. The first response of missions is then is to fall on our face before this glorious God and to listen to His voice (Eze.1:28). The second missionary lesson of Ezekiel is that we should fear God more than we fear men and that we need to speak His words no matter what it costs us (2:6–7). A reoccurring fallacy in mission is that we will be loved. Fearing God more than fearing man includes reconciling our future to being hated, just like Jesus promised (Matt. 24:9, 14).
The context of a glorious, force-us-to-the-ground power of a vision of God provides the setting for our call to be warning watchmen with foreheads stronger than all our critics (3:1–9). Missions obedience is not centrally about whether anyone listens to us; it is about the glory of God and we as messengers relaying His gospel no matter how we are received (3:11–12, 16–21). As if God’s glory knocking Ezekiel flat once was not enough, it happened again (v. 23). Ezekiel was told to be a warning watchman and then told to shut up until ordered to speak (v. 26). What is consistent in our speaking or in our silence is the glory of God.
Some scholars think Paul’s reference to the knowledge of the glory of God that Paul makes when explaining his call (2 Cor. 4:4–6) was a quotation of Ezekiel 1. “The gospel carries the knowledge of God among the nations. Paul understood himself to be God’s apostle to the nations, entrusted with the task of taking this gospel of the knowledge of the living God to the nations that knew him not. But he clearly saw this personal mission of his as entirely dependent on the prior mission of God, that is, God’s own will to be known. It was not the case that Paul chose to have a mission to the nations on behalf of Israel’s God. It was that the God of Israel chose Paul for his mission to the nations.” From Ezekiel to Paul to you and me, the process is the same. It all starts with a vision of the glory of God, and it all ends with the glory of God among all nations. The prophetic people of God are always the missionary people of God because they have had visions of the glorious God in all His terrifying beauty. The words of God always follow the visions of God.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 122.