After Ezekiel’s vision, he went in the Spirit and with the hand of The Lord upon him to the exiles at Tel-abib. He was bitter but he went. He sat among them overwhelmed for seven days. Ezekiel obeyed the Lord although he didn’t want to. The mission and the vision had been a lot to take in. And so he sat overwhelmed by the whole thing for a week. The Bible doesn’t say whether he prayed. I imagine he did. I would guess he took that time to process everything. He didn’t turn away from the job God had given him to speak to the Israelite exiles and tell them whatever God had for them.
After God allowed Ezekiel to sort out everything, He spoke to the prophet again. Verses 16-17 read,
“And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”
God told Ezekiel whenever he heard a word from Him, he was to warn the people. He didn’t give him the option of picking and choosing which message to give and which to withhold. Every word from God’s mouth to us has weight and should be heard by whomever God has chosen to receive it. We sometimes may pick and choose. God gives us a word or tells us to do something and we decide if we feel brave enough, we consider whether we think the person will receive it well, and then we decide if we’ll obey Him. I personally have had many conversations with God after His command to me in which I’ve said, “I really don’t want to.” Thank God, He is so merciful and gracious. Most of the time He just nudges me again, tells me in His quiet voice again to do it. Most of the time, I do.
God isn’t giving us commands, telling us to go, speak, give, or stop for His entertainment. He is telling us for a reason. He chose us for a reason. And our response affects things. It affects the person we might help, and it affects us. Verses 18-21 say,
“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
God doesn’t give us a word of prophecy for a brother because He thinks it is cool. He gives it because our brother needs to hear it. He doesn’t tell us to go to someone because He has nothing better for us to do. He chooses us because we are the ones whom that someone needs to interact with, because He deemed us the most appropriate for the job.
Remember, their reaction or response is not your problem. They have free will, just like we do. But God wants them to hear His Word, know His Love, and see Him. If we refuse to obey, and they continue down the path of destruction, God is clear, their blood is on our hands. If we tell them then the responsibility of their response is with them and our hands are clean.
What is it that we are afraid of in telling someone God’s message? Are we really afraid of this person? Shouldn’t we much more fear the Lord God Almighty than any person? Do we love God enough to love His people the way He loves us? Do we love them enough to use our gifts and obey our Lord? If we can’t obey God out of love for Him and love for others, at least we should obey out of the fear of their damnation on our heads.
Oh, how I pray that none of us are that selfish! I pray that each of us really does obey the most important commandments of God’s commands as quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:29-31.
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
These are active not passive commands. Loving God with all our heart or emotion, with all our soul or will, with all our mind or intelligence and discernment, and with all our strength or physical power. And just the same as a natural result of the first, we love our neighbor, the people not only in our inner circle but all those we come in contact with the way we want to be loved ourselves.
After God spoke to Ezekiel He told him to go to the valley and He would speak to him some more. So Ezekiel went and saw the glory of God just like He had seen before. He fell down at once, but the Spirit entered him and lifted him up again. Verses 24-27 read,
“But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house. 25 And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.”
It may seem pretty severe to keep a man bound and mute except when he is doing or speaking for God. But God often used the prophets and circumstances as clear illustrations for His people. He wanted Ezekiel to only speak His words, to only go where He told him to go, and to only do what He told him to do. Ezekiel could only do God’s work by God’s power. It was obvious to the people who heard him because unless God was speaking through him, Ezekiel couldn’t speak. Remember it is God’s power you display, His love, His will, and His words you speak.
It is a stark reminder for us, not to add to God’s words. We are to say and do what He says when He says it. How many of us have gotten a word from the Lord for a brother or sister and waited, added to it, or taken away from it? We muddy the message. That isn’t obedience. That is letting fear sully God’s pure and perfect word.
My Brothers and Sisters, I encourage you to listen to the Lord well and obey Him immediately. Let’s stop arguing with Him and just trust Him. Let’s love people wholeheartedly enough to be willing to give them the chance to respond and choose life. Let’s trust God and see what He will do.