Ezekiel’s Easter vision comes to fruition in the death of death in the death of Christ.
Jesus stands at the cusp of the Jordan River, trying to convince John the Baptist to baptize him. Of course, John says no: I am lesser to you; in fact, you should baptize me! Jesus disagrees, and stresses the necessity of his baptism. In fact, his mission would be incomplete if he was not baptized. It was necessary to complete all righteousness.
As Jesus comes up from the water, the Spirit-dove descends upon him. The new Noah, he rises from the flood waters to see a dove, signalling dry land. The wrath will be appeased in Jesus. The Father speaks: “Listen to him! He is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Ezekiel stands on the cusp of the Chebar canal. Thirty years old, he is the priest of the exiled community. Suddenly, a vision. A fiery chariot appears from the north, bringing in a stormy wind. Four multi-faceted creatures appear, each with wings touching another; they move in perfect unison. They were accompanied by wheels on the earth which moved with them. A crystal expanse shown over the chariots, the bottom side of the firmament between the waters above and the waters below.
On top of the chariot, a man. His top was metal, his bottom was fire, surrounded by a brilliant brightness. This brightness was reminiscent of the bow that God hung after the Flood had abated. This man carried the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. This man speaks, calling for the Son of Man.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem a second time, again to the temple. He sees the temple filled with people, the hustle and bustle of an upcoming Passover celebration. The poor Jews in the area, or those who needed to travel, are in desperate need of sacrificial animals. Gentiles were kept in the outer courts. Rather than basins and pillars, the center of the temple has changed from her architecture to her money changing tables. The worship of Yahweh has been replaced with buying and trading. Jesus, taking a whip, overturns tables and pushes the merchants from the Temple. This house would be a house for the nations, a house for worship, from Jew and Gentile alike.
Ezekiel is transported from his house to God’s house, the temple. As he looks upon the temple, he is given a crack in the wall to see in the temple to see what transpires inside. A man in linen stands by with a writing block; he is ready to cleanse Israel with his weapon of choice. The elders are committing abominations in the Temple: the house of worship has become the house of uncleanliness.
As Ezekiel watches the man in linen take his men throughout the city to cleanse it, his attention is drawn back to the temple. The chariot is at the center, but it rises. It moves to the eastern gate of the temple before taking one final look. The chariot moves in perfect unison; not back to the center, no, but to the Mount of Olives.
Surely, God’s glory has left the Temple.
Ezekiel stands over a valley of dead bones. A battle had transpired here previously. God is curious. “Son of Man,” he asks, setting Ezekiel up, “can these dry bones live again?” Ezekiel does not know how to answer. He knows that God has taken barren Israel, a bloody mess of a woman, and adorned her in the clothing of a priest. He has seen the ways in which God has brought down the high. But can the dead live again? “Oh, Yahweh, only you know.” A safe answer. “Speak to them, then, and they will live.”
Ezekiel speaks. Bones come together. Disparate bodies fly from across the valley to be rejoined to their former glory. Sinews and flesh comes back to the bones. These bones, explain Yahweh, are a symbol for Israel, who thinks that she has been cut off. Israel, the bride in exile, was dead. But now, now she is coming back to life.
“Behold, I will open your graves and raise you up from your graves, O My people. I will put my Spirit into you, and you shall live, and I will place you in my own land. Then you shall know that I am LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares Yahweh.”
Stone hearts are turned to flesh; the dead walk again. Soon, a new temple comes into purview.
Jesus hangs on the cross, bloody and tired. “My God, my God,” he cries from his heart, having memorized Psalm 22 years ago, “why have you forsaken me?” The crowd looks on. “Doesn’t this man claim to be Messiah? Can’t he save himself?” they ask. Jesus calls out, and dies.
The earth shakes. Darkness falls upon the land. But, other curiosities abound. A Gentile man proclaims that Jesus is innocent. He says, “Surely, this man was the Son of God…” Tombs roll open. The dead of Jerusalem wake up; they stand and they walk into the Holy City.
Jesus lays silently in the tomb, dead. But soon, the apostles start to realize: maybe this Jesus is Lord, maybe he is the fulfillment of our dreams. Fifty days later, as the Spirit descends, the apostles preach to the entire world: Jesus is Lord, and judge; come to him, and find life. Together, we will reclaim the inheritance God has given us. This crucified Jesus who has come to life will bring you from your grave.