The first few chapters of the Book of Ezekiel describe his being called by God to be a prophet. So far, it has been mostly focused on God’s revealing His glory to Ezekiel. This would not be much of a call story without God giving Ezekiel instruction on the path that lies ahead of him. This week we see God give those instructions, and how Ezekiel reacts.
God presents Ezekiel with a scroll and is commands him to eat it saying, “Young man, get your stomach to eat, fill your insides with this scroll that I’m giving you” (Ezekiel 3:3, Goldingay). After becoming filled with God’s word, Ezekiel is told to go and speak those words to the people of Israel. God recognizes that this will be a tough mission to accomplish, but also knows that the people of Israel and Ezekiel know each other. God says of the Israelites that they are “strong-headed and tought-minded” (Ezekiel 3:7, Goldingay). God further says, “Young man, receive into your mind all my words that I speak to you. Listen with your ears and go, come to the exile community, to the members of your people and speak to them. Say to them, ‘The Lord Yahweh has said this”, whether they listen or refuse” (Ezekiel 3:10-11, Goldingay). The Spirit of God then picks up Ezekiel to send him on his way, though he did not want to go.
“God does not will He should follow what man has initiated. Other than following God’s direction, we have no right to direct Him. We have no ability to offer save to obey God’s guidance.”
— Watchman Nee
Ezekiel then stayed with the community of Tel Abib (תל אביב), that was near him, for a week. On the seventh day, God spoke to Ezekiel again, this time about the consequences of not speaking His words to the people of Israel. God tells Ezekiel that if someone dies in thier unfaithfulness, and Ezekiel said nothing, he would ultimately be responsible for thier sin. They only way that Ezekiel would be able to save himself from this punishment would be to speak to everyone that God directs him to talk to. God then brought Ezekiel out of Tel Abib to speak with him in a valley. There, Ezekiel witnessed the full glory of God like he had by the River Kebar. He fell to worship, but the spirit picked him right back up. God tells Ezekiel, “I shall make your tongue stick to your palate and you’ll be dumb…But when I speak with you, I shall open your mouth…” (Ezekiel 3:26-27, Goldingay).
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
— James 3:1, NASB
With the end of this chapter, we finish the section of calling for Ezekiel. He has now be fully prepared and given everything he needs to fulfill the mission given to him by God. This time reading this chapter, I was struck by a verse I have not noticed before. In verse 14 he writes, “When a wind lifted me and took me, I went, bitter and in wrath of my spirit, with Yahweh’s hand strong on me” (Goldingay). I think, far too often, Christians are taught to be happy about the things God calls them to do. After all, ministers, missionaries, pastors, all seem to do it all with smiles upon thier faces. Ezekiel shows me, that it is perfectly acceptable to not be happy about the things God has called us to. I can understand this emotion. It is hard to tell people the truth, when you know they will not like it or accept it. Even though your audience is not receptive, does not make it any less the truth. God is telling Ezekiel to tell an entire people group that they have misbehaved, and that is why they find themselves in exile. At any time, these people can turn against Ezekiel and do any number of things to him. I am not sure I would be happy knowing that this could be my fate.
How have your reactions to God’s calling on your life gone? Have you been joyous? Apathetic? Excited? Angry? Empowered? Worried? Ezekiel has been given everything he needs to accomplish the task that God has given him, but he is still a man with emotions. It is acceptable for you to have emotions as well. People get far too carried away with how they should be (myself included) and give very little thought to how they are. For the remainder of this week, join me in recognizing that God created me as I am. That means, He expects me to have reactions, including negative ones. I do not have to behave in a certain fashion because I am a Christian and God has called me to something. Ezekiel was angered and Jonah was full of fear. I can be that way too. The question is, will I be willing to trust in God and do as I’m asked, or fight Him to whole way?