Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 1-3, Psalm 89
Jeremiah was not the only one God called to prophesy to His people during this difficult time in the life of Israel and Judah. While Jeremiah was hearing from God from within the walls of Jerusalem, Ezekiel had already been exiled to Babylon when “he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him” (Ezekiel 1:3). I love that description! Can you testify to that action in your life? Have you felt the hand of the Lord take hold of you?
The call on Ezekiel’s life would be a very difficult one but God equipped him for what was ahead, just as He continues to equip us today. Through visions, God would show Ezekiel the worst side of the Israelites. Ezekiel’s eyes would be opened to the horrific things God’s people were doing – the reason God was so angry and His punishment was so harsh. That is a lot for one person to know and you can imagine that Ezekiel’s burden was very heavy.
With this call came a great deal of responsibility which added to the weight on Ezekiel’s shoulders. “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me” (Ezekiel 3:17-19).
The call on Ezekiel’s life was great, but so is the God who called him and who would equip him! All he had to do was respond in obedience to what God was calling him to do and to say. He was not responsible for the choices of others, but he would be held accountable for his own response to God’s call.
Just as Ezekiel saw the horrible and heartbreaking actions of his people, he also saw the glory of God and was filled with the Spirit. He had difficulty even describing what he saw, so he described it as best he could using descriptions such as “looked like” or “what appeared to be” or “this is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me”.
Above the surface was something that looked like a throne made of blue lapis lazuli. And on this throne high above was a figure whose appearance resembled a man. From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me. “Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet. I listened carefully to his words (Ezekiel 1:26-2:2).
Praise God that the Spirit of the Lord continues to fill us and set us on our feet when we feel overwhelmed. God also gives us His words to fill and prepare us for what is ahead.
“Open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked and saw a hand reaching out to me. It held a scroll, which he unrolled. And I saw that both sides were covered with funeral songs, words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom. The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you – eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth…Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.” Then the Spirit lifted me up… (Ezekiel 2:8b-3:3,10-12a).
What God is calling you to do today is not a heavier call than He gave Ezekiel. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed and have fallen on your face before the Lord. Trust God’s Spirit to lift you up off your face and fill you. Rest in His hand as you feel the strength of the Lord’s hold on your life.
“The Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I went in bitterness and turmoil, but the Lord’s hold on me was strong” (Ezekiel 3:14). Notice Ezekiel did not say that he went in joy and peace but rather bitterness and turmoil. God allowed Ezekiel’s heart to break at the things that were breaking His heart. The road ahead of Ezekiel would not be an easy one but neither would God leave him alone to face what He was calling him to do, just as He will not leave you alone.
If Ezekiel resisted God’s call and disobeyed, people would die. That is a lot of pressure. Those of us who have been called by God to work in the prolife pregnancy center ministry face this kind of pressure every day. If we resist God’s call or refuse to speak the words His Spirit gives us to say, babies will die. If any of us give in to our fear and to the lies of the enemy, God’s children might not hear the message of salvation. We do not know for sure if there will be another opportunity for them to hear that Jesus died for their sins, that there is forgiveness and hope in their future if only they will repent and make Him Lord. They might not listen but God is calling us to obey him regardless of the response of His people.
Are we ready to accept God’s call? When He places His Word in front of us and tells us to eat, will we find the time to consume his words and let them sink deep into our heart, listening carefully to what He has to say to us? Do you feel the hand of the Lord on your life? His hold on you is strong – Do not resist.