Today’s reading is on Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1-3).
Think back to a time when you were forced to deliver bad news to someone. Bonus points if you were not the first person to deliver them bad news in a row. The difficulty of having to inform someone of something extremely unpleasant or devastating can be frightening, especially so if it’s directly a consequence of their own actions. This is especially true if you’re a non-confrontational person like me, a problem that tends to get exacerbated the closer you are with someone. Now imagine that scenario, directed to thousands of your fellow exiles after watching their homeland get ransacked and ravaged.
This offers a basic summary of the position of Ezekiel, one of many captives from the Babylonian’s siege on Judah way back in 2 Kings. Ezekiel had been training to join the priesthood at the time, but plans had changed slightly after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed his hometown. Now, stuck in the desert with about 10000 other exiles, God appears to Ezekiel with a very convicting command – to go and tell his fellow Israelites about how their downfall had been a direct consequence from God for their disobedience in Him and turning away from Him.
Talk about salt in the wound. These people had watched their home been destroyed and their leaders slaughtered before their eyes, and Ezekiel the priest comes along to inform them it is their fault this all happened. While we know it to be the truth and the obvious results of generations of sin, I can not imagine the Israelites would have accepted this so easily or quietly. In situations where warning non-believers about the consequences of sin and the result of separation from God arise, it can be easy to feel incompetent or unable to express the Lord’s word properly, or to invite their often harsh or derisive responses upon ourselves.
But from this passage, and Ezekiel’s tale of captivity in Babylon, we know the Lord equips us to handle whatever may happen when we spread His word. As the Lord says in chapter 2 verse 7-8, “…the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are.” The Lord equipped Ezekiel in his unique circumstance of preaching to those with hearts angry and deaf to God by giving him tough, unshakeable faith and an equally tough disposition.
In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul instructs this: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” To share the Word of the Lord is of utmost importance; to spread the Lord’s message and bring hope to those who need it through Him brings Him immeasurable joy. More so, the Lord has equipped us each with our own special way of reaching someone’s heart who needs it. Only the Lord knows how, when, and where exactly your talents may come in handy, but He has given each of us tools to share the Gospel effectively to someone responsive to your talents. He has given us each a mission, to go out and tell others about His good news, but not without planning and thought.
Ultimately, Ezekiel’s tale serves as a reminder of the necessity for sharing the Lord’s word with those who need to hear it. As believers, the Lord calls us as He did Ezekiel to help direct others away from sin and towards Him. It is as Peter says in Acts 10:42 of Jesus’s command to His disciples and to us: “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one who God appointed as judge of the living dead.” We are called as Christians to testify about our savior, and that even when difficulties arise from it, God has already given us everything we need to endure. Let’s all pray today for hearts and tongues of love and wisdom, and to be filled with His spirit, ready to share the good news with a world that desperately needs to hear about Him.