“Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go speak to the house of Israel.” Throughout his time as a prophet of the Lord, Ezekiel was instructed by God to do some very unusual tasks. Readers of the New Testament will remember that the Apostle John was similarly told in Revelation 10:9 to eat a scroll. That little book, like the one given to Ezekiel, was “sweet as honey” in his mouth, but John was assured that it would make his stomach “bitter.” Speaking for the Lord, whether in the days of Israel or in the New Covenant era, would not always be pleasant.
Prior to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the prevailing instruction to the Lord’s prophets was to go “to the house of Israel” rather than “to many peoples of foreign speech.” With the beginning of the worldwide church, however, the commission for God’s people would be greatly expanded. They would eventually go not only to Jerusalem and Judea, but to Samaria and even to the furthest reaches of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Ezekiel learned in his day that Gentiles would have actually listened to his message more readily than God’s own children. Yet he was commanded to go to the Jews, even though the Lord assured him that “the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you.” The prophet was not permitted to abandon God’s explicit directive, despite the fact that proclamation to the Jews would be very frustrating. The Lord Jehovah brought Ezekiel where He wanted him to be and He told him what to say and to do when he got there.
The prophet was clearly instructed that there would be grave consequences if he were to shrink back from his duty as a “watchman for the house of Israel.” Even after the most sober warning, the message of his ministry was not left to chance. The Lord took away the prophet’s voice when he was supposed to be silent and He gave it back to him again when God had a Word for His people. As with Jesus so many centuries later, the primary sign of the successful ambassador would be faithfulness to the Lord God and not the approval of the majority of any audience among mankind. “He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse.”
In John 5:19 and John 12:49-50, we learn from the mouth of the true Son of Man that He did “nothing of His own accord.” Our Savior insisted, “I have not spoken on my own authority.” The message of Jesus was entirely based on the directives of the Father. Our Lord was the fulfillment of the prophetic ideal that was modeled so many centuries before by men like Ezekiel. Yet there was no need to make Jesus mute or to restrain His mobility in order to keep Him from abandoning His mission. Every impulse of His being was in perfect accord with the Father.
Imagine what a change it will be for us when all vestiges of sin have been entirely removed from our lives. Until then we do well to seek the Lord together as the body of Christ and to encourage one another according to the Scriptures, lest we veer off to the right or to the left.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Lord, we love Your Word. Help us to follow it. Thank You for Your prophets and apostles who have spoken this Word of truth. Thank You especially for the work of Your Holy Spirit. Without Him we would never have the will to hear and obey You. Restrain our sin, and not only our sin, but the sin of Your church throughout the world. Father, constrain Your ministers to speak Your Word in truth. They must warn Your people not to sin, or the guilt of many rebellious souls will be on the heads of Your ambassadors. They must not speak to us whatever our itching ears demand to hear. They must be true to You.