Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lost in Time and Space

I have a hand-written cross-reference near the opening verses of Ezekiel 1 referring to the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was about 30 years old, and, like Ezekiel, here he was by a river, among "exiles" in the sense that they were still out-of-place in their land (under Roman control) and out-of-joint with God. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel is asked to act out several of his lessons and sermons. But like Daniel, Ezekiel’s writings take on an apocalyptic, other-worldly character.

For instance, in the opening verses of Ezekiel 1, we find Ezekiel at a particular place at a particular time: 30th year; 5th day, 4th month, by the river. But then something happened that rendered Ezekiel “lost in time and space.” The heavens are opened and he sees visions of God. He is transported in his mind and spirit beyond where his feet are fixed, so that he can see and describe wonderful and amazing things to these poor exiles. We find something similar when Paul is caught up to “the third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2) and yet cannot put into words the things that he experiences. John, exiled on the island of Patmos, in a real (terrible) place in a real time (Revelation 1:9,10) is transported by vision to report on scenes from beyond time and place. We struggle with their descriptions, because words fail to portray what we have not yet experienced, and yet it is good for us to puzzle over these things, if only to remind us that this is not all there is.

It is good and gracious of God to take those whose lives are fixed in time and space, and through them to reveal to us “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). But it is better that God has sent One who was forever beyond time and space, to be born of a woman in a barn, and to die like a criminal on a cross – the eternal Son of God now not lost, but nailed in time and space, so that we who are but sinful creatures can know and worship the One and True and Living God forever.

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