Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 2 November 19:
The Bible says that Christians are Christ’s Ambassadors entrusted with the message and ministry of reconciliation, reconciling people to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Today’s readings in Ezekiel have much to say to Christ’s Ambassadors —
Ezekiel 3:1 — “Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”
As ambassadors, we are to consume God’s word and communicate it to the world.
Ezekiel 3:7-11 — “’But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.’ Moreover, he said to me, ‘Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”
God often sends His ambassadors to people He knows won’t listen. God strengthens His servants to endure opposition. The ambassador’s success is measured in faithfulness, not by how the rebellious respond to the message. In fact, God warns Ezekiel that, “[they] will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because [they] have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart…. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” The fact that God knows that the rebellious will not receive His word does not relieve the ‘ambassador’ of the responsibility to proclaim the message. Are you ready to proclaim the Gospel regardless of how it might be received?
Today, many Christians are very careful not to share the Gospel or Biblical truths with people they believe will not receive it well or with people who might be offended by God’s word. Rather than becoming peacemakers (reconciling man with God), some have become more concerned with being peaceable and peace loving (avoiding conflict at all costs), often to the expense of holiness and evangelism. Paul was severely beaten by crowds for proclaiming God’s word, and he would get up and preach again – some believed, and that was Paul’s hope.
Ezekiel 3:10 — “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears….”
You must know the word of God in order to share the word of God. We must diligently study God’s word and only speak God’s word. Don’t substitute ‘good ideas’ or popular opinion for God’s word. We represent Jesus, not the current version of morality.
Ezekiel 3:17-21 — “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
As Christ’s ambassadors, we have been given a great responsibility; we have been directed by Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19) This charge is often referred to as the “Great Commission;” but the “teaching them to obey” part has often been called the “Great Omission” because we are uncomfortable addressing the demand for repentance and obedience to a Holy God. This is not a popular message (John the Baptist lost his head for calling out the sexual sins of Herod), but God holds us accountable for delivering the message, not for how others respond to the message. God also holds us accountable for the way we proclaim the truth – “yet do it with gentleness and respect…. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…. peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (1 Peter 3:15; Ephesians 4:2; James 3:17) Proclaim the truth so that when you meet the Lord you will hear Him say, “Well done, my good servant!” (Luke 19:17)
Ezekiel 3:22-27 – “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there. And he said to me, ‘Arise, go….’ the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, ‘Go, shut yourself within your house. And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.’”
God’s true servant is led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, not by human wisdom or ability. When Christ’s ambassador speaks, he speaks God’s word, not popular opinion, common sense, or personal opinion. Also, when Christ’s ambassador speaks, he always acknowledges Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 November 19: Be a faithful ambassador for Jesus today.