My grandson’s middle name is Ezekiel. Ezekiel means “God will strengthen”. I just finished reading the Book of Ezekiel and I pray that God blesses my grandson with the strength that He gave Ezekiel. Ezekiel was preparing to become a priest when the Babylonians attacked Judah and carried him and many others into captivity. He was a young man at the time of his captivity. Although he was a captive, God commissioned him for a great service. The prophet Ezekiel had the thankless job of proclaiming God’s message on the crowded and hostile streets of Babylon. At the same time that Jeremiah was warning the citizens of Jerusalem of the coming destruction of that holy city, Ezekiel was preaching the same message to the exiles in Babylon. They were hundreds of miles away from the Promised Land and the temple, but God would not leave them in the dark. He sent Ezekiel. Even though his exiled audience was cut off from the temple, the priesthood, and the related ceremonies and feasts, the prophet Ezekiel informed the exiles not only of these details, He warned the people of national calamity, including warnings of disease, death, destruction and deportation. But he also warned of the importance of obeying God’s law and seeking after Him. His purpose was to remind the people of their spiritual unfaithfulness and of God’s faithfulness to His own promises. During Ezekiel’s life and ministry, the northern Kingdom of Israel was corrupt politically and spiritually. (sound familiar) They were in captivity because of their disobedience.
Our Lord is the God of second chances. God could have wiped them out but instead He sent Ezekiel to be a tower of strength among his people during their captivity. Ezekiel’s message to the nation was that they return to the Lord. God declared that he would restore them to their own land. Sometimes it is easier to give God’s message to other people than your own family or friends. But God is not concerned with difficulty, He is concerned with obedience. Ezekiel probably seemed strange to his neighbors and friends. Ezekiel did whatever God asked him to do, and God asked some extraordinary things of him. He shut himself up in his house, he ate his food by weight, and he sacrificed his personal appearance. It is one thing to prophesy about impending judgment and warn people to repent; it is quite another to lay on your left side for 390 days and then your right side for 40 days. And I can imagine what the people said when he did not mourn his own wife’s death! But Ezekiel did not worry about how he looked to others, for he owed his obedience to God. So if God told him to do something he did it. God had a purpose in having Ezekiel perform each thing He told him to do. A point was illustrated and a lesson was taught. Some may have laughed at the prophet, and many probably ignored him, and unfortunately they missed the lesson.
God did not just throw Ezekiel out to the wolves, He prepared him for what He was asking of him. Ezekiel received and reported revelations from the God. He told Ezekiel that “I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flit” (Ezekiel 3:9). Through his visions Ezekiel was adequately equipped by God for his calling. My favorite is the vision of the “dry bones”, it shows the power of God, how he can raise those who have been scattered, but who are also dead in sins. This was Ezekiel’s message to Israel, a nation that had been scattered and God’s promise to restore. God’s presence being revealed to Ezekiel in captivity demonstrates that holiness has nothing to do with geographical location, but the condition of people’s hearts. God is moved by the faithfulness of men like Ezekiel, who became a prophet not because of status but because of his faith in God in a dark land, no matter the circumstances. God told Ezekiel to speak to the people, whether they listen or fail to listen, was not his concern, his responsibility was to deliver God’s message. No one wants to hear bad news or hear about the consequences of their actions. Ezekiel probably was not very popular and people dreaded seeing him coming. But God strengthened him. God also told him, if he was not obedient, the people’s blood would be on his hands. It is our personal responsibility to spread the Gospel, no matter where we are, or how uncomfortable we may feel.
Obedience to the will of God can be difficult. It is a struggle to live the way God wants us to live while the rest of society continues in its sinful ways. Our actions may not be as dramatic as Ezekiel’s but the consequences can be important, both as examples to others, and as indications of our obedience to God. Obedience is better than sacrifice. The Book of Ezekiel stresses the ultimate aim of God’s charity and chastisement, that “they shall know that I am the Lord.” The message is clear, we must obey God and seek after Him! God may ask us to do things that are at odds from our wills and desires. We may be laughed at and talked about. The question is will we still be obedient like Ezekiel? Much Love…