Have you ever had a vision from God in which you were given a message to share with the people? If you have, how was the message received by the people? Was it accepted or rejected? If it was rejected, you can sympathize with how the prophet Ezekiel felt in Ezekiel 3:4-11.
Ezekiel was a priest who had favour in God’s eyes. Ezekiel suffered because of the sin of the Israelites. The Israelites were a people descended from a common ancestry. They were God’s chosen people and a nation among others. They were Ezekiel’s own people, the people he grew up with, the people who spoke the same common language he did. Ezekiel’s life was changed by God’s call just like our lives are changed by God’s call.
In the vision, Ezekiel was given a scroll and was told to eat it. The scroll was full of lamentations, mourning and woe. The vision foretold how Ezekiel would be satisfied with God’s message, even though it revealed the sorrows that would happen to the Israelites for rejecting his message. Ezekiel’s task would not be easy because the people were rebellious, but God never expects anyone to proclaim His Word in his own strength. God gave him the strength and resolve to carry out his mission.
There is an old saying that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. It means that God will give us everything that we need to accomplish the mission that He has laid out before us. Our skills can be useful to God, but we don’t need any particular skills to serve Him. We are enough, and our lives are enough.
Ezekiel is also a good example of Jesus’ comment that a prophet receives honour everywhere but in his hometown. Foreigners listened to Ezekiel but the Israelites didn’t. To the foreigners, Ezekiel was someone new, an outsider. Ezekiel knew it would be difficult for the Israelites to receive his offer to repent, but he continued his mission. They had the same hostile attitude that Pharoah had toward Moses.
Ezekiel had to understand that the rejection he encountered was not directed to him personally. He could acknowledge that any lack of acceptance of his message was not his fault. Jesus gave us the same message to preach. The gospel we preach must not be one we create. It must be God’s Word. We are to clarify it and not invent it. Conviction and strength proceed more from the heart than from the head. Hearing God’s Word is not enough; the message must penetrate the soul, where it takes root and branches out into a person’s being.
The word Ezekiel means, “God Strengthens”. Because Israel was so adamant in its rebellion against God, the Lord made the prophet even more determined to faithfully declare divine judgment against the nation’s sin. Effective ministry requires not only compassion and empathy but also strength, conviction, and firm resolve.
In order to carry out his mission, Ezekiel had to listen to God. Listening to God is essential to walking with God. It requires not only straining to hear His word but taking His words so seriously that they set up shop in the deepest places in our hearts.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1055-1056)
- Stuart, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 20: Ezekiel (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989; pp. 37-41)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- “Bible Pathway-Sept. 1, 2017.” Retrieved from www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/biblepathways