Day 26: Ezekiel 2:8-3:11
But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. But 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 people.”
And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
Some time ago, I was having a difficult pastoral conversation with a family. After a strong comment I made, one of the family members said to me, “I don’t really feel the love of Jesus in what you’re saying. You may be telling the truth, but it’s hurtful.”
I have always empathized with Ezekiel, because he is a man who is sent, not as a missionary to people that are not his own, but to those he knows best. God calls Ezekiel to prophesy to his own rebellious house: the house of Israel. Modern Christians in America, like the people of Israel prior to the exile, don’t like words of prophetic truth. I have sat across from multiple people in my office who are having affairs, surprised that I would tell them that their decisions are destructive and godless. Men looking casually at pornography are surprised when I tell them that they are crucifying the son of God all over again, as Hebrews states, when they choose to lust after one of God’s daughters. Church people are amazed when I tell them that God is not as easily co-opted by political parties as they may hope. Rich people are often offended at the call to give away a greater sum of their money than others.
God’s Word doesn’t always feel good. It often stings. This is why people in Ezekiel’s time rejected God’s truth, and why people in our own time do the same. This is what John the Apostle was talking about in the opening of his Gospel when he said about God’s Word, Jesus, that “he came to that which was his own but his own did not receive him.” The Word of God often offends and hurts. We love to sprinkle the love of Jesus on ourselves, but forget the tough lines of Jesus where he promised us pain and a cross. We neglect the promise that if we accept the hurt and the pain of the cross, we are promised everlasting life of resurrection and hope. I pray that we heed the word of God’s discipline in this life, lest we find ourselves surprised when Christ comes as the judge.
Jonathan Burkey | Worship Pastor