Forget the Wheels—Part Two

Considering some of the weird and wonderful things Ezekiel was commanded by the Lord to do, he probably couldn't be blamed if he had been a little peeved at his assignment. After all, Ezekiel was a priest, a dignified member of his community and it just didn't seem right to ask him to lie around on his right side in a public view for 390 days and then on his left side for another 40. Not to mention how offensive it was for the poor man to have to cook his meals, in public, over a campfire fueled by human excrement. Happily the Lord allowed him a reprieve on this last one and let him cook his bread over cow manure. But, still…! Then he had to shave his head and his beard—a definite nasty for a Jew.

What was all this about? Why such "in-your-face" illustrations?

Israel has been taken into captivity to Babylon. Judah is about to suffer the same fate at the hand of the Assyrians. God's people have behaved so badly for so long that God has come to the end of the divine patience and is taking measures to get their attention. But he knows very well that Israel's pain is not going to result in gain for Judah. His people are a stubborn lot.

Which brings me to what God told Ezekiel in the vision that resulted in the rather humiliating living illustrations of God's displeasure.

I remember well the words I often read in Henry Blackaby's book, Experiencing God. He mentioned several times that we needed to be where God was working, i.e where people were responding. Ezekiel hadn't read the book. In fact, God told him to go when the Lord Almighty knew that nothing was going to work!

"Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn, Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet have been among them" —Ezekiel 2:3-5, NIV.

The test of the true prophet was whether or not what he said came true. The arrival of the death and disaster that Ezekiel predicted would become his credentials as God's spokesman—not exactly what any of us would hope our "claim to fame" might be. And it certainly is no fun being engaged in a ministry that is pretty much scheduled to end badly right from the start.

God doesn't always choose to send his servants to places were only good things happen, but he always promises to be where he chooses to send those servants. He tells Ezekiel: "And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen…the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house" —Ezekiel 2:6, 7; 3:7, 8, NIV.

It's wonderful when people respond positively to the call of God on their lives and it's wonderful to be a part of that kind of ministry. The harsh reality is that, though God is always speaking, men still have the choice whether or not to listen. And though people may choose not to listen, that doesn't give us permission to stop speaking on his behalf. There are consequences to refusing to be his voice (Ezekiel 3:16-21). 

Ezekiel's assignment was not a pleasant one. But God promised to equip him with the resources to accomplish the task. And when God calls on us to labour to a rebellious house, that same provision will be available for us as well.

Comments

  1. "Ezekiel's assignment was not a pleasant one. But God promised to equip him with the resources to accomplish the task. And when God calls on us to labour to a rebellious house, that same provision will be available for us as well."

    Amen - great reminder that results are NOT the sign of God's calling - no matter how much we wish they were.

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