TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 9–12
Missions is God-centric. We are not fully missionary until we come to terms with God being more important than the lost, more important than the ministry, more important than the missionary. There is a rebellious core to all men that resists the supremacy of God in all things, including missions. When missions becomes a tool to make us feel good about being little saviors, we have lost the plot. When we are offended by hell, judgment, and the Lord killing the wicked, we have lost the plot. We have essentially forgotten that all things are about our glorious God and that whatever God does is good.
Ezekiel helps us in our missiology because over and again he focused on the glory of God, the weight of the presence of God, and the reality that God is explosively more than we can understand, contain, or explain. The poetic language of Ezekiel is presented with qualifying language such as “the appearance of the likeness of” (Eze. 10:1) because even Ezekiel struggled to articulate the wondrous things that he saw.
Even in the struggle to communicate heavenly realities to finite minds, God’s passions are present. Ezekiel compared the unacceptable behavior of God’s children to the customs of the Gentiles around them (11:12), and judgment on God’s chosen was strategically intended: “Then they shall know that I am the Lord, when I scatter them among the nations and disburse them through the countries. But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (12:15–16).
Because God is marvelously, beautifully, and eternally good, it is right that all things (including missions) be about Him. When missions is essentially about the glory of God, the weight of His indescribable presence, it cannot be essentially about how many are judged and go to hell or what happens to His disobedient family. If missions is supremely about God, then it must center on God’s well-being, not on man’s. And this, of course, offends us and all men. We distort the love of God for man into something that replaces the love of God for God, which is idolatry and vainglory.
Ezekiel’s prophetic, missionary, and God-centered visions remind us that all things are about God, He cannot be dishonored, and all things go well. When God is dishonored, He removes His presence and we live in “ichabod”—vainglory, non-glory. Our greatest good is found in glorifying God, living holy before Him, seeking His good. It is hard for self-centered us, but the good of God means His judgments, His punishments, His wrath, and His terror are good. It’s hard for stony hearts to hear and think that God loves Himself more than He loves me or the nations. It’s hard, for deep within we still want to be the center of God’s affections. But we are not. And missions truly begins and new hearts of flesh received (11:19–20) when we understand that God is the center of God. And this truth is glorious.