Hey, a chronological book! What a unique concept! And quite refreshing considering all the time jumping going on in Jeremiah.
Ezekiel comes on to the scene at about this time of history. It was the fifth year after Jehoiachin, the second to last king of Judah, had gone into exile to Babylon. Along with Jehoiachin, Ezekiel and many other Jews joined him in exile. Ezekiel was the son of a priest, but at an age (30) when he would normally have started his service as a priest, God calls him here as a prophet.
Ezekiel first saw what appears to be cherubim. They had four faces, that of a man, lion, ox, and an eagle. Many of the church fathers take that as the different “faces” of Christ as found in the gospels. Jesus the “Lion of Judah” in Matthew, Jesus the servant in Mark (the ox), Jesus the son of man in Luke, and Jesus the Son of God in John (the eagle).
They also show the omniscience of God (with their four faces on four sides, nothing was out of their view), and the omnipresence of God (the wheel within the wheels able to go anywhere at anytime).
But then God himself appears, and speaks to Ezekiel.
And it is his call of Ezekiel that interests me the most here.
First he told Ezekiel,
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. (2:3-7)
Two key things here: First, God said that he was sending Ezekiel to the people of Israel. Second, he said, “Whether they listen or not, you are to give them my message.”
He tells us the same thing. He is sending us to the people around us, and commands us to give them his words. Some may listen. Some may not. But whether they listen or not, we are to give them his words.
Then he told Ezekiel,
Open your mouth and eat what I give you. (2:8)
He then gave Ezekiel a scroll with his words written on them. They were not happy words. Rather they were words of “lament, mourning, and woe.” In other words, they were words of the judgment to come because of the people’s sins. Ezekiel took in the words of God, and he said it tasted like honey in his mouth.
We too are to take in the words of God. We are to savor them. But we are not just to keep them to ourselves, we are to share them. Not just the good things God has said, but his words of warning as well. What happens if we don’t?
God told Ezekiel,
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die.’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.” (3:17-21)
What is God saying here? We have a responsibility as God’s watchmen to warn people to turn from their sin. If we do, and they repent, we will have saved them. If they don’t, they will die, but God will not hold us responsible for their blood. If, however, we say nothing, they will die and God will hold us responsible.
We cannot control how people respond to God’s message. That’s not in our hands. But whether they listen or not, God calls us to tell them. To tell our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our coworkers. Some will listen and be saved. Some will close their ears and die because of it.
But the question you need to ask yourself is this: “Am I doing what God has commanded me to do? Am I telling them his words of warning and salvation?”