Fear Not: Ezekiel

Fear Not: Ezekiel

Fear Not: Ezekiel. 

“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. ‘Son of man,’ he said, ‘I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. They are stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, this is what the Sovereign Lord says! And whether they listen or refuse to listen – for remember, they are rebels – at least they will know they have had a prophet among them. Son of Man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.’ Then I looked and saw a hand reaching out to me. It held a scroll.” (Ezekiel 2:1-8).

God really put Ezekiel through the ringer. He was a Jewish street preacher to his fellow exiles in Babylon for 22 years, and was asked to do a number of outrageous things. The Lord asked him to act out his prophesies… Lock yourself in your house and tie yourself up with ropes; lie on your right side for 390 days and your left side for 40 days, eating only flat bread baked over coals fueled by cow dung; shave all your hair and beard off; sneak out of a hole in your back wall in the middle of the night for parts unknown; sing a long funeral song in the middle of a public street in downtown Babylon. Time and again God asked Ezekiel to demonstrate the word of the Lord. He tended to preach about Israel’s judgment as well as its salvation. God showed a sense of humor when He told Ezekiel that He was going to make him just as stubborn as these Israelites in exile. “I have made you as obstinate as they are. I have made your forehead as hard as granite. so don’t be afraid of them.” (3:8). Even with all these attention-grabbing theatrics, the exiles continued to show resistance to the word of the Lord. For most of them, Ezekiel seemed to be no more than an interesting distraction, a harmless diversion from their daily affairs. They wouldn’t listen, they ignored his words. No matter how strongly Ezekiel preached about the holiness and moral perfection of Yahweh, the people wouldn’t respond. They were consistently stubborn, rebellious, and they simply wouldn’t admit their sinfulness, just as the Lord had warned at Ezekiel’s calling. Ezekiel closed his autobiographical book by preaching messianic prophesies about the new Kingdom of God and the new Temple. His somewhat discouraging book closed on a high note of hopefulness. The name Ezekiel means “God strengthens,” and his life is a powerful testimony to that fact.

Ezekiel’s calling was very similar to that of Isaiah and Jeremiah. God handpicked him to demonstrate His Word and preach His message. Ezekiel’s success was based on how faithful he was to God’s call, regardless of whether the people responded or not. These three major prophets did their work and found little openness in the hearts and minds of the people. There were times when the exiles were unkind to Ezekiel, bordering on abusive. But Ezekiel stayed true and faithful throughout his ministry. God told Ezekiel during His call to him to be unafraid, to be fearless when the people ridiculed or rejected him. God repeated that command three times…. don’t be afraid; do not fear. do not be dismayed. It appears that directive from God was received, because Ezekiel was indeed a fearless prophet unafraid to make a fool of himself, in the face of consistent opposition.

An Answer to Fear: Trusting in God’s call on our life, we can be assured of His presence and strength when we face rejection or opposition. God had Ezekiel literally eat the holy scroll and take in His Word. We also need to eat His Word spiritually, digesting it and sending those sacred nutrients to every part of our spirit. That daily diet will settle our fears about what people might say or do to us. Fortified in the Word through the Spirit will enable us to overcome our fear and live into our calling. 

Take Heart: “O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere  mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:1-4).