Food for Friday

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. Ezekiel 1:1

A large segment of American history deals with slavery. Many accounts have been written about the slave trade, the conditions under which slaves lived, the abuse and overwork they endured, the struggles for survival, and many other issues. Books and movies abound, both factual and fictional, that tell us about these people, in stories fascinating and poignant. Against this vast volume of material we compare Ezekiel’s miniscule description of the enslavement of many of the Jews during his day. The prophet devotes only a few phrases, not even a whole statement, on the conditions he experienced. Why? Because he had something far more significant to relate: the visions he received from God!

Have you ever wondered what life was like for Ezekiel and the other captives. That they were by the river indicates they probably performed backbreaking labour in the fields. That they are described as captives indicates they had little freedom or possessions and were likely treated cruelly. But Ezekiel does not fill in those details for us. God had opened the heavens to show him visions, and that was all he was interested in. He gives us a lesson in priorities. When we get together for discussions, do we talk about our conditions and troubles, or do we talk about what the Lord has opened up to us from His Word?

Life isn’t always easy, with its pains and heartaches, its disappointments and struggles. But God gives us two great assurances regarding our mortality: He will never allow us to be tested beyond our ability to cope, and He will soon come to take us to our eternal dwelling of joy and rest. With these great assurances, we can lift up our eyes from our discouraging surroundings and behold God’s eternal blessings.

Our happiness does not come from any extent of ease and pleasure down here, but rather on our appreciation of the glories that await us up there. God’s Book is an opening to Heaven, where we may enjoy visions of God. – Jim MacIntosh

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