The Pew and the Pulpit (Ezekiel 2:1-3:11)
Since I’ve ben peaching, I’ve thought much about preachers and preaching.
Ezekiel’s call provides good information about preaching. We are mistaken if we think of prophecy only in terms of telling the future. Prophecy really means “to forth tell.” Prophets talked as much about their present situation (and really more about their present situation) as they did about the future.
This call comes immediately after Ezekiel had seen the glory of the Lord (Ezek 1). When Ezekiel aw this glory, he fell upon his face (Ezek 1:28).
This morning, we’re going to look at Ezekiel’s call and see what applications we can make to modern preaching.
The Pew, Ezekiel 2:1-7
God sent Ezekiel to the exiles in Babylon, and God had quite a bit to say about the exiles.
They were a nation of rebels.
They and their ancestors had rebelled against God to that very day. The Hebrew term implies subjects not submitting to the king; these Jews were not submitting to God as their king.
Ezekiel 20 gives a list of their sins:
- They did not put away the things their eyes feasted on.
- They did not put away the idols of Egypt.
- They did not walk in God’s statutes but rejected his ordinances.
- They profaned the Sabbath.
These people were not obeying God.
We live in a society much like that. Individuals say that they want God out of their lives; they want to make their own decisions as to what is right and wrong. We live in a society which rejects what God has revealed and does what it wants.
They were impudent and stubborn.
Literally, they were stiff-necked and stubborn. They didn’t care what God said they just weren’t going to do it.
We live in a society that rejects what God has revealed and does what it wants.
They may not hear.
Ezekiel is to go to the Exiles and say, “Thus says the LORD.” But God says, “Whether they hear or refuse to hear, they will know that there has been a prophet among them.”
Many today will not listen.
They were vicious.
Briars and thorns are symbols of hostility. Scorpions are a symbol of shock. God tells Ezekiel, “People may mistreat you.”
People mistreat preachers today.
The Pulpit, vv 2:8-3:11
After telling Ezekiel about the Exiles, God tells Ezekiel how he should live.
Ezekiel should not be rebellious.
Instead of being rebellious, Ezekiel needed to walk with God. We need preachers today who are not rebellious but who walk with God. Cervantes wrote in Don Quixote, “He preaches well who lived well.”
Here there is a clear difference between how the Exiles were acting and how Ezekiel should behave. Although those to whom he would preach would be rebellious, Ezekiel was not to rebel against God. We need preachers today who do not go along with the things of this world.
Ezekiel needed to eat the scroll.
Ezekiel was given a scroll. On this scroll was written words of lamentation and mourning and woe, i.e., the words Ezekiel would speak to the Exiles. He was told to eat the scroll and fill his stomach with it and then go prophesy. Ezekiel ate the scroll.
Ezekiel had to have the word of God in him. Ezekiel 3:10: “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.”
We need preachers who have the word of God in them. I don’t mean simply that we need preachers who know the word of God; I mean that we need preachers who live the word of God. We need preachers who love God and who love his word.
Ezekiel was to speak the word of God.
Ezekiel was to speak the very words of God.
We need preachers who speak the very words of God. “Preach the word” (2 Tim 4:2). “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet 4:11). “Oracle” is a revelation from God. Those who speak must speak the very words of God.
Ezekiel was not to worry if people don’t listen.
The people of Israel would not listen to Ezekiel because they would not listen to God.
Preachers can’t get upset if people don’t listen. He needs to stand and preach the truth out of love. But if people reject the message, they reject God and not the preacher.
Ezekiel needed to be stubborn.
God made Ezekiel’s forehead hard. Like the people were stubborn in their rebellion, Ezekiel needed to be stubborn in his resolve to preach and do right.
Ezekiel was to be bold in his preaching: “A minister without boldness is like a smooth file, a knife without an edge, a sentinel that is afraid to let off his gun. Men will be bold in sin, and ministers must be bold in reprove.”
We need preachers today who are stubborn. Even if everyone gets made, they will preach the truth. Even if everyone else refuses to do right, they’ll do right.
God contrasts two lifestyles. One lifestyle is rebellious toward God. The other lifestyle honors God and stands up for God.
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Main Street church of Christ in Pikeville, Kentucky.