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The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Messages for the Modern World from an Ancient Prophet is the theme we are working through and is based on Ezekiel’s prophecies.
This prophet lived in a foreign country during perilous times.
He found God to be very real and present, just as we can find Him to be today.
Today we are talking about Practicing Your Faith Where You Are.
Ezekiel 3:17 NKJV
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:
Ezekiel 3:4-27 NKJV
4 Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.
5 For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel,
6 not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you.
7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted.
8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads.
9 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.”
10 Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears.
11 And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.”
12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place!”
13 I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise.
14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
15 Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
Ezekiel Is a Watchman
16 Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:
18 When 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, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.
21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”
22 Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.”
23 So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.
24 Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: “Go, shut yourself inside your house.
25 And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them.
26 I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke 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 hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
In Jesus name we pray.
Tonight we are going to “sit in” on an ordination service, Ezekiel’s.
But then, perhaps we need to understand what an ordination service really is.
Most of us have attended at one time or another the ordination service for someone about to become a minister or for a group of people in the church set aside by the congregation to serve as deacons.
These are memorable exercises.
They especially hallowed experiences for the people involved.
And they are appropriate and proper rituals, for they are designed to impress on those ordained the unique servant roles that are theirs among the people of God.
But at the same time, we must keep this business of earthly ordination in proper perspective.
Ordination does not establish a better class of Christian as opposed to all those unordained Christians who must forever remain a lower class.
In a very real sense, every believer was ordained “A priest and a minister of God” when they were born again.
Now we as priests of God have many and varied functions in life.
Some of us lay bricks, some plant corn, some rock cradles and prepare meals, some teach in schools, others repair cars.
Still others preach sermons from pulpits on Sunday.
But all of us are called to be Gd’s special agents wherever we are, all the time!
Thus what happened to Ezekiel happens to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It happens in a different way and perhaps for different purposes, yet we all, as Christians, share this mysterious and Devine ritual of ordination.
It is God’s special way of equipping us for and making us acutely aware of our responsibility practice our faith where we are.
- First, in examining Ezekiel’s ordination experience, we shall see the meaning of the hand of God upon him.
Ezekiel 3:14, So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
Throughout this book there are two words that have the same meaning, Hand and Spirit.
Both represent the mystery of God at work in the world.
This would compare today to the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer.
In the Old Testament the word, spirit, also means breath.
This is an excellent way to describe the life principle God has given to us.
So there we have it, “The hand of God, the Spirit if God, the holy breath of God, was upon me!” Said Ezekiel.
Already in those early days of his special relationship with God, Ezekiel had had some wonderful experiences.
In the midst of those moments, he was totally secure in his faith.
He was not being challenged by the cold, profane, obscene world.
But then, almost anybody can be an exuberant, and bubbly, overflowing Christian when things are going well and they are having all types of great experiences like Ezekiel was having.
But God was about too impart to Ezekiel a peculiar ability and talent every believer must have.
Ezekiel was about to learn that the Spirit of God, the hand of God, is still at work even when everything seems to be going wrong.
We read, So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
Ezekiel learned, just as God wants all of His children to learn, that He is with us in the glory moments of our faith, and He is also with us in the times of struggle, of boredom, of pressure, and yes, even of agony.
2. Now that we have seen the hand of God come to rest upon Ezekiel, let’s note his performance.
Did Ezekiel’s personality match his task?
How did he relate to these people to whom God sent him to preach and minister?
To begin with, we must remember that God had called Ezekiel to serve as the preacher and pastor of a lonely, frightened, depressed, and disillusioned group of Hebrew exiles living in a pagan land as captives.
And these were the people of God, the specially chosen people through whom God had intended to work out His purposes for the salvation of humankind.
They were frustrated, bewildered, and bitter people.
They were about to the point of wondering whether their God was a powerful as they had always believed Him to be.
It is doubtful that any preacher would deliberately choose such a role as this for his service to God.
The “First Church of Tel abib on the Chebar” was not the most desirable pastorate for a young preacher straight from his ordination service!
Nor did Ezekiel always manifest the gift of a good personality and charm, but he was God’s servant, and he served God to the fullest with the gifts and abilities he had.
Ezekiel had some shortcomings, and it is good that we know about them.
It gives us hope that God can use us in spite of all our imperfections and strange quirks and idiosyncrasies, if we honestly and completely give ourselves to God as Ezekiel did.
Lets imagine Ezekiel, this young prophet, sitting in his home.
His mind is spinning, he is trying to sort out all of the experiences he has had during these days.
On the one hand, he thinks of the glory and majesty of God he has experienced, and his soul soars into a state of unbounded ecstasy.
For the rest of his life, he will never forget the glory of God in that swirling dust storm!
But then, at the other extreme, the evidence all around him indicates failure, shattered dreams, a weak and powerless religion.
Ans with a growing sense of horror, he realises as God speaks to him that things are going to get worse before they get better!
All of this failure is going to be compounded, Jerusalem is going to fall, and God is telling him that he must be the messenger to carry this terrible news to his people.
But just before he throws up his hands in despair, he remembers again the overwhelming glory of God that he has just seen.
He realises that the faith God has given him is more than just a personal, selfish thing to carry him through the rough days ahead.
This new faith he has received will give him the strength and the courage to preach judgement and repentance, as well as the glory of God to his people.
Then it was that God gave this young prophet a new title to add to his job description, Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:”
High watch towers stood at intervals along the massive walls of Babylon.
When the exiles went into the city on their daily business, they could see the catchment in their towers observing them.
When the people returned to their homes, the watchmen were still at their posts.
These watchmen knew what was going on in their world all of the time.
This is very much part of a pastor’s task.
The true pastor whom God calls needs to know what is going on in the world of his people.
He needs to know when there is dissection in the flock and when false doctrine is being taught.
So with a sense of determination, Ezekiel accepted his assignment as a watchmen over his people.
Then God gave him an example of what he was to do in this role.
He described four individuals and Ezekiel’s relation as a watchmen to each of them.
The first illustration shows an evil man whom the watchman fails to warn, and the evil man dies in his sin. The Lord said sternly to Ezekiel, “If you fail to warn him, then I will require his blood at your hand!”
The second illustration is of an evil man who will not listen.
But if the watchman does his duty, then he is not responsible for the spiritual death that follows.
The third illustration presents to every pastor a painfully familiar scene.
Here is a good man whose outward life and conduct are beyond reproach.
But he is going away from God, he is becoming totally confident in himself.
Perhaps he has money, position, influence, and security.
But eventually he comes to that point where he has shut the door, finally and conclusively, on God.
If the watchman fails to warn this “good man” on his collision course with disaster, the watchman will share in the guilt of this man.
The fourth illustration presents the ideal.
Here is a person who is faithful to God.
The watchman, the pastor helps him, encourages him, and supports him as he practices his faith.
Being a watchman is not an easy job.
It was not easy in Ezekiel’s day, nor is it in our day.
Are you practicing your faith where you are?
Only a few, comparatively, are called to serve God within the framework of the organised church in a professional status.
But all of us, as believers, are called to serve God where we are.
Doctor, lawyer, teacher, carpenter, whatever your vocation, is your ministry to God.
Ezekiel’s message to us, then, is simply this. The glory of God is found wherever faith in Him exists, God is in charge of this world, and He will be victorious over it, your part and mine in the final victory is to practice our faith to the utmost wherever we are and to the glory of God.
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.
When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.
Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!
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2022 IS A YEAR OF REPENTANCE AND BLESSINGS
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