playing in the dirt

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playing in the dirt

Ezekiel 4:1-3 (JDV)

Ezekiel 4:1 “Now you, son of Adam, take a brick, set it in front of you, and chisel ‘the city of Jerusalem’ on it.
Ezekiel 4:2 Then lay siege to it: Construct a siege wall, build a ramp, pitch military camps, and place battering rams against it on all sides.
Ezekiel 4:3 Take an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between yourself and the city. Face it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.

I have been asked to do some interesting things as a minister of the gospel, but nobody has ever asked me to get down in the dirt, and play like I did when I was a kid. It must have been embarrassing for Ezekiel to do this — out in front of everyone.

But we cannot avoid the call to prophesy, even if it puts us in embarrassing situations sometimes.

The apostle Paul said “since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching” (1 Corinthians 1:21 NET).

LORD, if the people you call us to communicate with cannot hear the message any other way, give us the courage to embarrass ourselves preaching it.

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a frustrating life

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a frustrating life

Ezekiel 3:22-27 (JDV)

Ezekiel 3:22 The hand of Yahveh was on me there, and he said to me, “Get up, go out to the plain, and I will speak with you there.”
Ezekiel 3:23 So I got up and went out to the plain. I noticed Yahveh’s impressive appearance was present there, like the impressive appearance I had seen by the Chebar Canal, and I fell face-down.
Ezekiel 3:24 The Breath entered me and set me on my feet. He spoke with me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house.
Ezekiel 3:25 As for you, son of Adam, they will put ropes on you and tie you up with them so you cannot go out among them.
Ezekiel 3:26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth, and you will be mute and unable to mediate for them because they are a rebellious house.
Ezekiel 3:27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you will say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says.’ Let the one who listens, listen, and let the one who refuses, refuse – because they are a rebellious house.

a frustrating life

The LORD was teaching Ezekiel that his life was going to be a mixture of good and bad experiences. First, he sends him out to the plain, and Ezekiel has another experience of God’s impressive appearance.

From there, the same Sacred Breath moves him to go back to his house and shut himself up inside it. He was symbolically imprisoning himself. The LORD wanted him to know that his own people would tie him up so that he could not go out among them. Even the LORD would keep him from mediating for these people.

The consequence of these two truths meant that Ezekiel would have a frustrating life. He would learn much about God but there would be few in his generation who would care to learn from him.

The consequence for us is this remarkable revelation that we can now read, and see in our minds the magnificent glory of Ezekiel’s God — who is our God.

LORD, thank you for using Ezekiel’s frustrating life to reveal your glory to us.

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If you did not warn him

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If you did not warn him

Ezekiel 3:16-21 (JDV)

Ezekiel 3:16 Now at the end of seven days the word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of Adam, I have made you a guard over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, give them a warning from me.
Ezekiel 3:18 If I say to the guilty person, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him – you don’t speak out to warn him about his guilty way in order to save his life – that guilty person will die for his violation. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.
Ezekiel 3:19 But if you warn a guilty person and he does not turn from his guilt or his guilty way, he will die for his violation, but you will have rescued your throat.
Ezekiel 3:20 Now if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and acts unjustly, and I put a stumbling block in front of him, he will die. If you did not warn him, he will die because of his failure, and the righteous acts he did will not be remembered. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.
Ezekiel 3:21 But if you warn the righteous person that he should not fail, and he does not fail, he will indeed live because he listened to your warning, and you will have rescued your throat.”

If you did not warn him

Today is the day we American celebrate our independence, and freedom in general. But this passage provoides a helpful word for those of us who are trying to live like Christians in America, and elsewhere.

There are many people in this world who have the freedom to live sinful lives — to be independent of God and his truth. They want us to leave them alone — to let it be. Ezekiel was facing the same attitude in his own countrymen.

But Ezekiel learned that God was not going to allow him to let those people sin. He had to warn them of God’s judgment. If he refused to warn them, they would die, and God would hold him responsible.

This same God calls us to speak into our own culture and warn people who are failing him. We cannot step aside and just let things be. It is not an option.

Lord, give us the courage to challenge those who demand freedom to sin.

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I sat there among them

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I sat there among them

Ezekiel 3:12-15

Ezekiel 3:12 The Breath then lifted me up, and I heard a loud rumbling sound behind me – bless the impressive appearance of Yahveh in his place! –
Ezekiel 3:13 with the sound of the living beings’ wings brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound.
Ezekiel 3:14 The Breath lifted me up and took me away. I left in bitterness and in an angry breath, and Yahveh’s hand was on me powerfully.
Ezekiel 3:15 I came to the exiles at Tel-Abib, who were living by the Chebar Canal, and I sat there among them horrified for seven days.

I sat there among them

Ezekiel was given a week to observe what was happening among the Tel-Abib exiles. Before he would speak the words of God, he was given a good look at the people he was to speak to. What he saw horrified him. The contrast between the glory of God he had seen in his inaugural vision and the corruption and sin he saw there terrified him. He knew he was going to have to condemn these people.

Lord, give us a clear understanding of your holiness, and the failure of those to whom you call us to speak.

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the hard headed prophet

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the hard headed prophet

Ezekiel 3:4-11 (JDV)

Ezekiel 3:4 Then he said to me: “Son of Adam, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.
Ezekiel 3:5 For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or a difficult language but to the house of Israel–
Ezekiel 3:6 not to the many peoples of unintelligible speech or a difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. No doubt, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you.
Ezekiel 3:7 But the house of Israel will not want to listen to you because they do not want to listen to me. For the whole house of Israel is hardheaded and hardhearted.
Ezekiel 3:8 Notice, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.
Ezekiel 3:9 I have made your forehead like a diamond, harder than flint. Don’t be afraid of them or discouraged by the look on their faces, though they are a rebellious house.”
Ezekiel 3:10 Next he said to me: “Son of Adam, listen carefully to all my words that I speak to you and take them to heart.
Ezekiel 3:11 Go to your people, the exiles, and speak to them. Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says,’ whether they listen or refuse to listen.”

the hard headed prophet

God told Ezekiel that he was being sent to his own hard-headed people, so he would make him into a hard-headed prophet. Only he must be hard-headed in declaring God’s truth, no matter what kind of reception he got.

Lord, make us people who stubbornly decalre your truth to our generation, regardless of who listens or responds.

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his sweet words

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his sweet words

Ezekiel 3:1-3 (JDV)

Ezekiel 3:1 He said to me: “Son of Adam, eat what you find here. Eat this scroll, then go and speak to the house of Israel.”
Ezekiel 3:2 So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll.
Ezekiel 3:3 “Son of Adam,” he said to me, “feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving you.” So I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.

his sweet words

In this vision, Ezekiel is told to eat a scroll containing “words of a dirge, mourning, and woe” (2:10). One would not expect such words to be sweet as honey. But these are God’s words. He often gives us bad news to tell his people. But just knowing the heart of our Lord makes us eager to pass on his words — even when the listeners do not want to hear them.

Lord, thank you for your sweet words.

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his negative words

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his negative words

Ezekiel 2:8-10 (JDV)

Ezekiel 2:8 “And you, son of Adam, listen to what I tell you: Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.”
Ezekiel 2:9 So I looked and noticed a hand reaching out to me, and there was a written scroll in it.
Ezekiel 2:10 When he unrolled it before me, it was written on the front and back; words of a dirge, mourning, and woe were written on it.

his negative words

If God had bad news for you, would you accept it? Ezekiel was given a scroll with words of a dirge, mourning, and woe written on it. He didn’t hand it back and tell God he was only interested in positive and encouraging words. To do so would be rebellious. He would have been no different than the rebellious house he was sent to prophesy to.

LORD, give us the courage to accept your words and present them to the world unadulterated and without shame. We trust you with what we say.

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a rebellious house

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a rebellious house

Ezekiel 2:1-7 (JDV)

Ezekiel 2:1 And he said to me, “Son of Adam, stand up on your feet and I will speak with you.”
Ezekiel 2:2 As he spoke to me, the Breath entered me and set me on my feet, and I listened to the one who was speaking to me.
Ezekiel 2:3 He said to me, “Son of Adam, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebellious pagans who have rebelled against me. The Israelites and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this day.
Ezekiel 2:4 The descendants are obstinate and hardhearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says.’
Ezekiel 2:5 Whether they listen or refuse to listen – because they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them.
Ezekiel 2:6 “But you, son of Adam, do not be afraid of them and do not be afraid of their words, even though briers and thorns are beside you and you live among scorpions. Don’t be afraid of their words or discouraged by the look on their faces, because they are a rebellious house.
Ezekiel 2:7 Speak my words to them whether they listen or refuse to listen, because they are rebellious.

a rebellious house

Ezekiel’s call to preach was clear. He was to speak God’s words to his rebellious, pagan nation. He was not to be afraid of them, no matter what they said, no matter what look was on their faces.

The call to preach today is the same. We need a generation of stubborn prophets who dare to speak the word of God because we might just face a rebellious house or two.

LORD, give us your Sacred Breath, and enable us to preach your pure, unadulterated word to our generation.

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he matters most

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he matters most

Ezekiel 1:26-28 (JDV)

Ezekiel 1:26 Something like a throne with the appearance of lapis lazuli was above the expanse over their heads. On the throne, high above was someone who looked like a human.
Ezekiel 1:27 From what seemed to be his waist up, I saw a gleam like amber, with what looked like fire enclosing it all around. From what seemed to be his waist down, I also saw what looked like fire. There was a brilliant light all around him.
Ezekiel 1:28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was what Yahveh’s impressive appearance looked like. When I saw it, I fell face-down and heard a voice speaking.

he matters most

Ezekiel had looked up and noticed the sky over the heads of the impressive beings. Then he looked above that and saw something even more impressive. He saw God as a reigning king, emitting brilliant light and fire.

Now, he falls down. Those amazing beings with wings and wheels were not the main show. This is the main show. This is what it is all about. We should fear God above all else. He will decide our ultimate destiny. He matters most.

LORD, we choose to fear you above all.

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over their heads

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over their heads

Ezekiel 1:22-25 (JDV)

Ezekiel 1:22 Over the heads of the living beings the likeness of an expanse was spread out. It gleamed like awe-inspiring crystal,
Ezekiel 1:23 and under the expanse their wings extended one toward another. They each also had two wings covering their bodies.
Ezekiel 1:24 When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of a huge torrent, like the voice of the Almighty, and a sound of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stopped, they lowered their wings.
Ezekiel 1:25 A voice came from above the expanse over their heads; when they stopped, they lowered their wings.

over their heads

If the vision of these four amazing living beings is starting to frighten you, you need to look up. Something is happening over their heads.

As amazing and terrifying as these four beings are, the vision draws our gaze to someone even more amazing and terrifying. Their wings are making a roaring sound — a sound of a tumult like the noise of an army. But we need to look up. The sovereign God who made them is in control of their power.

There are all kinds of amazing people who want to capture our attention today. There are also terrible monsters who want to frighten us, cause us to lose sleep, and even endanger our lives.

That is all the more reason for us to take our gaze off these beings and look over their heads. There is a supreme being, and only he deserves our worship, and we should fear him more that these.

LORD, we adore your perfection, and fear your power — more than any other.

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