Read: Ezekiel 33-34
There is a lot to consider in these two chapters, but I hope that they encourage us to be a witness to the world, to be accountable to whatever our calling may be as we live out our lives for Christ.
Ezekiel’s Call as a Watchman Revisited
Flashback to chapter 3, here we are reminded of Ezekiel’s call.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:7
While is it certainly an honor to be called by God to be the watchman, the price of this calling is now understood more fully. In the previous 30 chapters we’ve read Ezekiel’s words from the Lord to the people, hard words and difficult lessons. The most difficult, personally, was the death of his wife and the reaction required by the Lord (Ezekiel 24:15-27). With these experiences, the calling has deeper meaning.
if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Ezekiel 33:4
Life experiences changes how we witness to the world. Spiritual maturity happens by experiences we encounter, how we respond to those challenges and, probably more than anything else, how we introspectively examine both. We need deep friendships, brothers and sisters in Christ to help us process these times and work out how God is using them to sharpen us. Listen friends! Even in the hardest of times, when Israel is swept away into exile and Jerusalem destroyed, Ezekiel has these words from the Lord, the Creator of all:
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ Ezekiel 33:11
Our heavenly Father wants us to grow and be in relationship with him.
Now they know that a prophet has been among them
It’s no surprise to Ezekiel that Jerusalem will fall, that the crown jewel of the Hebrews is to be taken by force and all within it killed or dispersed. Yet he has to explain again that God is using invading forces to effect his wrath on his chosen people.
I’ve read this a dozen times and I’ve talked about the difficulty that comes with taking on the mantle of leadership in the church, rather depressing:
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. Ezekiel 33:31-32
At some level, there is some assurance that this will happen, but honestly, it’s not all that wonderful to be reminded that our message goes in one ear and out the other! The next Ezekiel consolation prize, now that years have passed and Ezekiel’s message is being lived out, the people finally start to recognize this truth:
“When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 33:33
It’s certainly not about fame or fortune, but to know that your words are heard and respected is enough. Sometimes we need to hear these words.
The Lord Will be Israel’s Shepherd
The Lord will not stand by idly while we screw up!
So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Ezekiel 34:5-6
As we are reminded in James 3:1, not many should become teachers, bearing the title “leader” in the church comes with a significant price.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. Ezekiel 10-11
What more could we ask for? As the world’s religion teach rituals and duties required to please their gods, the Lord himself reminds us that he will reconcile himself to us, that he will send his Son to save us. Our message is quite different that the rest of the world.
Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” Ezekiel 34:30-31
“You are my sheep,” perhaps some of the most comforting words declared by the Lord of all, spoken during a time of great desperation, must have touch some of those who heard Ezekiel’s message. Somewhere in the crowds there are those who took the words to heart. Like tossing seeds without discretion, Ezekiel’s words are spoken to all people with one assurance, God will shepherd his people. In the end, that is more than enough.