Reading through the Bible together
Chapter three continues the theme of chapter two. God tells Ezekiel that his call is to be a watchman (3:17) and to preach the Word to his people in exile (3:18-21).
As I read this chapter where God instructs Ezekiel to spread the message to everyone, my mind is drawn to the Parable of the Sower. In Matthew 13, Jesus describes a sower broadcasting seed everywhere with some falling on the roadside, some on rocky soil, some on thorny soil, and the rest on the good soil. Just as the sower in Jesus’ parable, Ezekiel is told to broadcast the seed to everyone without being selective over who receives it or not.
For most of us, the thought of evangelism is daunting. If our success is assured, the thought of sharing our faith is much easier. But, if the chances of our success are slim, it’s much more difficult to follow through. I’ve caught myself at times not wanting to share my faith while saying things like, “This is area is too hard to reach,” or, “Rich people aren’t interested in the message.”
I think this fear of failure is a primary reason we struggle following through with God’s call to share our faith with others. At times this fear leads Christians to do a lot of “soil analysis” (looking for those who are most receptive to our message) before we share our faith, and then share it only with the ones most likely to be receptive.
With this in mind, it’s important to recognize that in Ezekiel 3, God doesn’t seem as concerned about Ezekiel’s successes in evangelism as He is with Ezekiel’s obedience to the call. In the vision found in verses 22-27, Ezekiel is told that he will be tied up with ropes and will be unable to speak a single word until God allows him to do so. Ezekiel is literally bound and figuratively his mouth is tied shut to keep him from talking. How can a prophet preach tied up with a rope in his own house while not even able to utter a single word? An immobile, speechless evangelist is not capable of fulfilling his calling to share the Word of God even with the power he has.
God’s message to Ezekiel and to us is simple, “When I call you, I empower you. You are weak, but I am strong. You have no words to reach the human heart and to convict others of their need for Me, but I do. When I use you, people may respond or they may not, but just be willing. Be faithful and surrendered to Me, and I will do the work.” When you and I read what God said to Ezekiel, I don’t know about you, but that is good news to me! Amen.
Dr. Eric Bates, Pastor
Gulf States Conference