Ezekiel’s Prophetic Call

I am currently reading the book of Ezekiel and in chapter 2, Ezekiel is called by God to become a prophet. God explains to Ezekiel that He is sending him to the children of Israel who are rebellious and mentions how their ancestors were also stubborn and hardened their hearts towards God (Eze 2:3). But if we read verses 5-6, we also see God’s compassion on the children of Israel:

              The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them. 

When God was telling Ezekiel that the children of Israel and their ancestors were stubborn, He wasn’t exaggerating. If you read the book of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua and even the book of Judges. Especially the book of Judges! The children of Israel continued to disobey God by worshipping idols, cried out to God when He removed His protection (delivered them into the hands of other tribes) and He raised a judge every single time to set them free – God still had compassion on them.  And even after that, these people went back to the very thing that kept them in bondage.

Even today, there are rebellious people but there are 3 things that we as Christians can learn from the instructions that God gave to Ezekiel.

1) God has compassion on His people, so should we.

Since the beginning of time, we all have free will. He didn’t create us to be people who involuntarily obeyed Him. He gave us a choice – submit to God or submit to your flesh (slave of sin). In Romans 1, Paul talks about how God gave these people over to the lusts of their flesh, the desires of their heart and they became vain. They knew what was right and acceptable in the eyes of God but chose to commit all kinds of immorality (wickedness). Ephesians 2 reveals that we were once children of wrath following the ruler of this world and lived according to the passions of our flesh (Eph 2:1-3).

Each time the children of Israel decided to deliberately rebel against God, He gave them over to their lusts. It didn’t mean that God didn’t care for them, He did but He also wasn’t going to force them.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that God could have decided to abandon them the way that the children of Israel abandoned Him. Instead, He sends a prophet (Ezekiel) to them because at least “they shall know that there has been a prophet among them”. In other words, they will be without excuse because He has spoken to them, shown them the way that they should go and explained the consequences of their actions.

Sometimes we forget that God still compassion on His people. They may not be children of God because they haven’t chosen Jesus as their Lord and Saviour but He still created them. Just as He has compassion on every single person, we should also have compassion on our neighbour even if their lifestyle and choices contradict the word of God.

The second commandment that Jesus instructed his disciples was:

“You shall love your neighbours as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

God really shows us how patient and faithful He was with the children of Israel. 2 Timothy 2:13 explains that even when we are faithless/unfaithful, He is still faithful because He cannot deny Himself. That is His nature.

Just as He is rich in his mercy and grace, we should also be able to extend the same mercy and grace towards our neighbours despite what we may think.

We didn’t deserve the grace of God and yet Christ died for us while we still were sinners (Romans 5:8).

2) Share the Word (Truth)

Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them. – (Ezekiel 2:5)

You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house. – (Ezekiel 2:7)

God in His compassion wanted the children of Israel to hear His voice. Although we are not called to the office of a prophet or the rest of the 5-fold ministry, we still have a responsibility. Just as we are not all called to be teachers, we still are to teach one another the word of God. Likewise, we still have to evangelise even though we are not all called to be evangelists.

Paul encouraged Timothy that there will be a time when people will not listen to sound doctrine but will flock to teachers who will tickle their itching ears (2 Tim 4:3-4) but Paul tells him in the previous verse,

“…proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2)

The second thing we can learn is that Ezekiel was instructed by God to speak His words whether they listen or not. This is applicable to us. We are to share God’s word, His truth and also proclaim the Good News. The outcome of whether they respond to the truth or not is not our responsibility but rather being obedient to His voice. For in chapter 33, God warns Ezekiel that if he doesn’t warn the people to turn away from their wickedness, blood will be on his hands because he will be held accountable. But if he warns them and they refuse, blood will be on their hands.

Jonah who was also a prophet ran away from God’s instructions because he feared the people of Ninevah. As he flew to Tarshish on a boat, well, he tried to. Long story short, Jonah cried out against the people of Ninevah and they repented but that wasn’t enough for Jonah. Maybe in his mind, he would rather have destruction come upon them, even at the expense of the many souls that would have been lost.

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
– Romans 10:13-15

The heart condition of people as they respond to the truth is something we cannot control but all we can do is to continue to plant seeds and another person will water that seed. The outcome is not within our power but we have a responsibility to obey God’s voice.

It may feel like the person that you’re trying to reach is being stubborn and out of frustration, you internally say “they will never get saved”. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t disqualify them from hearing the word of God. Just as God continually used prophets to speak to His people, we should continue to share the Word and pray for them.

3) Stand firm

God prepares Ezekiel’s mind that the children of Israel may not like what he has to say and tells him not to be afraid of their hostility, their words or the looks that he will face (Eze 2:6). God warns Ezekiel in verse 8:

But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you, – (Ezekiel 2:8)

Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Do not compromise. In other words, stand firm.

It’s one thing to proclaim the word, it’s another thing to practice what you preach. To stick by what you said. To walk according to the Word.

It’s easy to give in, to try to fit in because of the fear of others but we are to stand firm at all times. Do not compromise what you evangelise about. People need to hear the truth in its undiluted form and this truth must be spoken from a place of love, not condemnation. But they also need to see how we continue to be a reflection of Christ, despite their rejection of the gospel and possible persecution.

These were the 3 things that I learnt from this chapter.

God bless,
Susan ♡

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