The Chebar Canal
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. (Ezek. 1:1 ESV)
What does this verse mean to us? What does this verse imply about our God?
The Chebar canal was a river that flowed through Babylon. It was where many Israelites had fled to exile, where they were forced to settle. They were in exile because of their disobedience. This river did not speak to them of life, this water did not quench their thirst. This canal spoke to them of hopelessness and despair. Amongst the canal was much talk of Israel and Judah, much complaining and despair. Yet, there was hope. One man. His name was Ezekiel. His name means, “God strengthens”. An exiled priest, amongst a disobedient and despairing people. One man whose heart remained loyal to God. One man very far from temples who found out the Lord was with Him in the hardest times. One man who had heard the stories of how God was with the people as they crossed the Jordan, now wondering if this testimony would still be true for them today. Yet, his heart was willing, repentant, and expecting and he saw the visions of God. He felt far from home, an exile staring at a foreign canal, yet God gave him a vision. God drew near to Him, because his heart was near to God.
Just like Ezekiel, you might find yourself at your Chebar. A place that represents despair and hopelessness. Maybe you might be struggling with a home situation that speaks of anger and despair. Maybe just like Ezekiel you might have a call on your life, yet you find yourself staring at a foreign river. Just like this river reminded Ezekiel that he did not belong there, you might be in a similar place that reminds you that you don’t belong there. There is one truth that stands on the basis of Scripture, if your heart is near to God, God will draw near to you, even in a place that represents hopelessness.
If your heart remains willing and expectant, then you will see the visions of God. It does not matter where you are, in what hard place you are in. God will speak with you, if you allow Him too. Many times we will be at the river Chebar, but are we seeing the visions of God? Do we hear the Lord speaking to us in our moments of difficulty? When we read the Scriputes do they give us hope in places that represent hopelessness?
My encouragement to those reading is that in whatever hard time you find yourself in, your heart might be found ready to receive the word of God. Just like Ezekiel you have a place of ministry in a hard place. Just like Ezekiel God can show you His plan, and give you a vision for your future and those around you. Your heart must remain willing and ready.