And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat…8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.” Ezekiel 3:1,2,8,9 NIV
When Pam and I planted our church we invited many of the neighborhood children. Pam is a gifted teacher and great with kids. On one occasion she shared the story of Moses parting the Red Sea. One child listened attentively, then inquired, “Are you saying that this story really happened? If so, where can I get one of those sticks?”
It dawned on me that this was the first time that this child had ever heard that famous Bible story. Each generation is responsible for sharing with the new generation about the stories of God’s involvement throughout history and how He is still changing lives today.
Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet of God who had the task of delivering God’s message to people who would only hear, but not change. Notice the descriptive words that God uses about the people of Israel, unyielding, hardened and rebellious. That’s not the type of people which you would choose to try and grow your church.
Ezekiel 3 captures the responsibility of the watchmen to speak regardless of the response of the hearer. If the watchmen refuses to share the word of the Lord, he will share some of the guilt of the potential hearer’s demise. Specifically, God says their blood will be upon the watchman. Take a moment to read the entire chapter.
God’s Equipping Strategy
The Word of God + Strengthened By Faith + Boldness + Obedience = Mission Accomplished
The Word – Twice Ezekiel was instructed to eat a scroll then go and speak to the people. Spending time reading God’s word always fills your life with something valuable to say. God’s word lasts forever and ever. It’s very possible we fail to share with our friends and neighbors because we are not filling our hearts and minds with the food from heaven.
Strengthened by Faith – Ezekiel ate the scrolls. The second time he replied that it was sweet as honey. The Holy Spirit uses revelation of the scriptures to inspire and build our faith. We read and the thought inside begins to grow. “If God helped this broken person in the Bible, maybe He could help me also?” Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Boldness – God would change the constitution of Ezekiel’s character to match the challenge of hardness of the people’s heart. The power and boldness of the early disciples was noticed as they stood toe to toe with the religious leaders. Listen to Peter’s declaration to the Sanhedrin officials –But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20
Obedience – For Ezekiel and the disciples obedience involved sharing and speaking of what they had seen and heard. Yes, it included holy living as part of obedience. BUT the first step and anticipation of obedience was to be a witness of what they had experienced with God. Acts 1:8 says the Holy Spirit brings power – to be a witness not to display miracles by themselves. Ezekiel 3 is very clear. Obedience includes sharing with others that God has a better way of living (His kingdom) than the path they are choosing (which leads to destruction). Let me say this again, Obedience is more than living holy – it includes speaking and sharing with others. If you are not being a witness in telling others what you have seen and heard…you are not following through in Obedience.
On this Fear Not Friday, look at verse 9 again, “I (God) will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.” All of us have some tough challenges to share with people who do not agree with our view of God.
Maybe you have a family member who is going astray; maybe you have a co-worker who told you to be quiet about this religious stuff; maybe you have been afraid of rejection; maybe you don’t feel skilled enough to turn a conversation to talk about spiritual matters of eternal significance; or maybe you are just afraid. God wants to make you strong enough to stand and speak.
Fear of response is not an excuse that God allows us to entertain. Don’t be afraid to speak and bear witness of the truth of God’s love and forgiveness. People are bound in sin and have not received the revelation of new life in Christ. Why? They are waiting on somebody (like you) to tell them. God will make you strong enough for the challenge.
Be encouraged, be filled with the Spirit, and be inspired. May the fire of God stir up the embers of faith within you. May His words well up like a spring ready to flow forth into blessing for others. May your joy of the Holy Spirit rise up within and fall upon all that you encounter today.
Blessings Love y’all