Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Prophet's Call: Witnessing to the Lost

By Benjamin H. Liles

           Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe. ~ Ezekiel 2:8-10, New American Standard

          I remember scores of times in my life where my dad wanted the best for me. Every time I told him I paid attention, I turned away from what he said and did my own thing, yet again. Such is rebellion. We think we know so much better than those who love us. They tell us something for our own good, to establish something greater. And sadly we think we know what's better. Such is what God calls Ezekiel to do.

          He tells Ezekiel, "Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have disobeyed Me to this very day. I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they listen or not—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious" (Ezekiel 2:3-7).

          If obedience is what God wants the most out of us, then those who are rebellious are also disobedient. The psalmist declares, "Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, For they are rebellious against You." (Psalm 5:10). But how do we reach those in their condition of disobedience if we sit back and do nothing? Aren't we being just as disobedient? 

          I see a clue and an encouragement within Ezekiel 2: "As for them, whether they listen or not" (Ezekiel 2:5). Some may listen. Some may actually give ear to the hard thing God is saying, and in humility, in their brokenness, return to him, asking His forgiveness for their part in the insurrection. I love how Esther's cousin Mordecai models this. "When Mordecai learned all that had been done, [a]he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. He went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes" (Esther 4:1-3). 

          Mordecai does this because he has learned of what Haman plans to do to the Jews who are dispersed throughout Babylon: "Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries" (Esther 3:8-9). 

          I want to stop here to say that when it looks like those who are evil and wicked are prospering for their works, it is only for a short time. God tells us in another portion of scripture, "I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they will be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. Then all flesh will know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (Isaiah 49:26, Holman Christian Standard). 

          But you say God is loving, gracious, and merciful. How can this be if everything God is doing towards people seems to contradict that He loves His people?

          I contend that a father who rules his household wisely will deal in disciplining his children when they do wrong. And in the case of God, the whole world is His. If He so chooses for a nation to dispossess His people for going their own way, to worship idols, to serve other gods, and to do the same things as nations around them; then, yes, God can deal with those who are His as He pleases. Should a child who does wrong not go unpunished? Rather, not only does God deal with the wrongs His people commit, but He also deals with those who have done wrong to His people: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5, New American Standard).

          Let's truly think on this, seriously; God anoints His servants for doing His will in their lives. He causes the horn of salvation to produce a never-ending supply. He does so to show His extreme favor. He does this in front of the enemies of His children. So, should those who are living in disobedience be allowed to eat at this same table with those who fear God? I don't think so. May God deal with everyone according to their faith.

          Moreover, God tells Ezekiel, "neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 2:6). Briars and thorns hurt only temporary when you get caught in them. I know as I have walked among plenty in my youth to get to a creek bed. God is saying to Isaiah, "I will be with you, do not fear anyone, for I am with you." It's like God's promise to Joshua rings true towards this man God calls to go talk to Israel on His behalf, "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9, Holman Christian Standard).

          Whatever God commands us to do we are to do and find delight in God's will for our lives, regardless the danger it may put us in. Jesus told those who believe in Him, "If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers" (John 8:31, Expanded). What is it Jesus commands us to do as His disciples? "Therefore having gone, disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20, Berean Study).

          So, obedience to God means to continue in doing His will in your life. It means making those choices to follow Him fully; to be holy, to be pure, to remain apart from the world. We can be in this world, but we don't have to do the same things this world does to reach others. It means keeping God first. It means keeping Him first and foremost in our lives. It means seeking to extend His kingdom to those who are lost and perishing. There is still time to extend grace and salvation while time allows. For there will come a day when all things will cease. It will be when Jesus comes back for His church. And who knows when that will be?

           We need to off sin so we may have Christ at the center of our lives. If we truly want and desire God to be at the center of our lives we can't practice things which He condemns. He doesn't care for things like we do. We need to have His mindset on what's right, noble, pure, and true. And it is in this, by choosing life and Jesus, that we can have it for eternity. We need to have a heart for those who are still in disobedience. They need to see it for what it really is: evil. I choose what I do so that God will be known to you and so that you have eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son.

           Father, I praise You for the work that You do. I can never do the things that You do. You are more holy than I. I submit myself to Your authority so that I can do what You call me to. I want to see You high and lifted up. To me it means continuously telling everyone of You, Your wondrous love, why You have to punish sin, and why those who remain in it will be separated from You. My desire is to make you known in my life and in the lives of others. I may not be like Ezekiel, but i do believe You want to see captives released, that their bonds be broken. Allow those who have seen Your light come out of those dark places. Let them humble themselves before You and be the shining example they need to be to reach others in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray this in Jesus' holy and precious name. Amen.

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