What is the book of Ezekiel about? Ezekiel describes how God gave him visions that he records and proclaims to Israel. Chapter 1 gives us background for the book dating his prophecy at the fifth year of the exile of Jehoiachin. We find that Ezekiel is a priest, that means he is from the sons of Aaron. We read that he is located on the Kebar River in Babylonia, so he lives among those in exile.
Most of chapter 1 gives us Ezekiel’s vision of God’s presence in preparation for God’s mission for Ezekiel.
Then God lays out Ezekiel’s job description in chapters 2 and 3.
Let’s just walk through some of this scripture together and explore what it says.
Ezekiel tells us that God spoke directly to him. There’s no question about that. Ezekiel wants us to all know: my message is from God. Ezekiel hears the words of God and reports to us what they were. As Kendall shared with us a few weeks ago, the prophets were a mouthpiece for God’s Word. This mission became their life, not just a segment of it. Being a mouthpiece for God defined Ezekiel, did it not? Does being a follower of Christ not define us as Christians? Are we not to speak and act like God’s own son? In the New Testament we learn that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and Jesus Christ is our Lord, and Jesus Christ is our life! Amen? Jesus Christ defines us. Is that not truly what God wants for us? How are we doing at this?
How was Israel doing at being God’s people? Listen again to how God describes the people of Israel here: 2:1-8
What is wrong with Israel’s relationship with God? Verses 3-4 a. Where does this resistance and rebellion lead them? So, here we have it. God knows their hearts. He knows, but he still seeks to get through to them. God is amazingly persistent is He not? I mean, why not just give it up, Lord? Why not just up and move on and find another people who will listen to You? The truth is, God loves Israel and has God’s heart is set on bringing them back to Himself. He will continue to punish and call and punish and call them over and over and over. Why? Because God knows His people. He knows that there will be some among them who will indeed listen and turn back to Him. He will take those few whose hearts will hear and heed His word and He will redeem them and He will bring them back to Himself, and God will ultimately bless them with eternal peace. But what about all those that will not listen and return? In chapter 5 God gives Ezekiel a skit to perform to demonstrate to His people what He will do with those that will not return. Ezekiel cuts off all his hair and divides in into thirds. A third he burns in a fire. A third he cuts up with a sword all around a little play city he has built that represents Jerusalem. A third he scatters to the wind. But a few hairs he tucks into his cloak, then he takes even some of them out of his cloak and throws them in the fire too. What’s the point, God? What are you trying to tell us through your mouthpiece, Ezekiel? God is saying that those very few that remain in his cloak represent the few who will listen and be saved.
What do you make of that? Does that sound just a bit familiar? Didn’t Jesus say enter the narrow gate that leads to life? Didn’t Jesus say there is a wide gate and a broad path that leads to destruction and that many go that way? Didn’t Jesus say that only a few find the way to life?
Look around in this world today. Don’t the images of Ezekiel and the words of Jesus still ring true today?
Think of how easy it is to get a Bible. We have been extremely blessed to have such access to the word of God! We in America can get a Bible for less than $5. In fact, the Bible applications for your phones or tablets (which are free) will even read God’s word to you. Anyone in this country has access to dozens of English translations right at their fingertips. We’ve never had so much free access to God’s word in human history. With that much of God’s word available to us, how are we doing? Yet, we are a nation that by in large, listens to anything else but God.
But not at this church! May God make us an Ezekiel church! May He fill us with His word and pour it out through us to others! Listen. What we do here at this church is becoming more and more rare. We focus on the Bible as God’s word in all our meetings together. Most of us have read through the entire Bible last year, and now this year we are over half way through it again. Lord willing, next year, we will be reading the Bible again! For God’s sake and for your sake, don’t grow tired of this! As soon as everyone of us knows it all by heart and is walking by God’s word in full obedience, we can talk about stopping. But I tell you, if that were true, we’d all be horrified at the very idea of stopping! God’s word in scripture is what we are tuned into in this church. It’s our station, our spot on the dial, our source of truth and standard for life. We believe God gave us His word and it’s right here in this book, the Bible.
Do you believe that? Do you hold the Bible up as the word of God? Do you trust that God has spoken and has inspired this book, the Bible as a holy, heavenly message of truth that can lead us to eternal life in God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ? I do! I know that most of you do too!
God has spoken to us through his prophets in the Old Testament and now He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. As we read through the Bible we are moving through Israel’s history and will very soon be smack dab in the middle of the four books God gave us about His Son. Most of us are getting pretty hungry for some New Testament about now. Are you not? I know I am. But before we get there, we have a history of God’s people to read about that forms the very foundation of proof that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Without these difficult books of the Old Testament, we would have no basis for understanding who Jesus Christ is and why He came and what His life means for us. All the New Testament church preachers, teachers and leaders used the Old Testament to prove who Jesus is. Don’t get too impatient with God’s word in the Old Testament. God is doing a work here that makes the life and work of Christ make sense and supplies incredible evidence that its claims are true.
God wants you and me to hear His voice and know His will and ways. He teaches these to us in part by showing us what we are like, using Israel as His exhibit A. When we look carefully at Israel we see ourselves. We see how humanity responds to God. We see how God responds to humanity. Israel is the household of God. God begins his judgment with, guess who? The nations outside of Israel, God deals with as well, but God’s heart and God’s focus and God’s longing foremost is for Israel. He chose Israel. God loves Israel. God wants more than anything we can imagine for Israel to love and trust and walk with Him. All the God awful things God says about Israel in Ezekiel are true! They are not overstatements.
The prophets of God in the Old Testament show us something powerful. God uses those who will listen to His word and obey it to go share His word with those who are rebellious and resist God and His word.
Let me say that again, because that’s the lesson we need to take home from Ezekiel today: God uses those who will listen to His word and obey it, to go share His word with those who are rebellious and resist God and His word.
God’s word is to be heard. What comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God? Faith! Romans 10:17. But that same chapter of Romans immediately after saying that continues by asking, “But have they not heard?” In other words, not everyone who hears God’s word will receive God’s word as God’s word and come to saving faith.
What faith does to us is amazing! By faith we do God’s will. By faith we are saved. By faith we overcome the world. By faith God grants us grace and righteousness. We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Faith gives us the victory!
So, hearing the word of God so that it produces faith, moves us to obeying God’s word. Paul told the Romans that his mission was to call people through the gospel to the obedience that comes from faith. Rom. 1:5, 16:25-27.
Saving faith always obeys God. Again, saving faith, that is. James tells us that we can have a nonsaving faith like the devil, and not be saved at all. We can say we believe, but act like we don’t and guess which is true? We can have a dead faith that won’t work, it won’t obey, and it can’t save. That’s not the faith God is looking for in us.
Saving faith is obedient faith. Faith that moves us to fear God and to love God and to desire God and seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness first.
God’s word is to be heard in a way that brings obedient faith. Now, the next part must also follow. Obedient faith declares God’s praise and confesses God’s word to others. Follow it now… we hear God’s word, we believe God’s word, we obey God’s word and we share God’s word with others.
Faith that fails to confess and profess God’s word fails to qualify as redeeming faith. Jesus put it this way, “Whoever confesses me before men, I will confess before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Show me a man or woman of faith in the entire Bible who did not confess their faith by sharing God’s word with others. Saved people are people God commissions to share His word. Ezekiel 3:16-21 gives us a principle we can clearly see and apply to ourselves. (Describe)
The first Saturday of September we’ll have our second outreach day. Come with us and share God’s word with neighbors here on Signal Mountain. We’ll go in groups of two or three and simply reach out to the people around us. We’ll invite them to come visit us, we’ll ask them if we can pray for them and we’ll ask them to tell us how our church family can better serve this community. We’ll meet here at 9:30, pray, get cards and pens to give out, and go door to door trying to confess our faith and inviting others to listen to God’s word. At 11:45 we’ll meet at El Metate’s for lunch and share our experiences and pray for those we’ve contacted.
Please come! Jesus told us to go make disciples. Have you heard His word? Do you have faith in Him? Are you obeying all He commanded? Will you come take part in going and trying to make disciples with us? If you’re already doing that some other way, praise God, share it with us. If you are not making disciples as Jesus commanded, start now. It’s a matter of faith.