Monday, August 6, 2012
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."
Again God reminds the prophet Ezekiel of the kind of tough ministry that is facing him. God promises to be with him and to protect him. But there is a warning that Ezekiel's words as God's Words would go unheeded. But Ezekiel was encouraged to stay faithful to proclaiming God's truth despite the negative reactions and lack of acceptance.
The metaphor that God employed to relate the seriousness of the prophet's task is that of a night watchman at the gate of the city (Ezekiel 3:16-21). As long as Ezekiel was faithful to speak God's word to the people to whom God directed him to speak, he would be doing well. The watchman warns and tells what he sees coming. But if he did not take the message where God intended, Ezekiel would be liable for the lives of those who needed to hear the truth. It was a solemn responsibility to warn the exiles.
Individual choice and personal responsibility factor strongly in this metaphor. Once warned, the exiles were held responsible for their actions. If Ezekiel failed to warn as God revealed, he was held responsible. Whether the people obeyed God's messages or not, the prophet was still compelled to be faithful to deliver those words. God may have had stern warnings of judgment, but he would not MAKE anyone accept or reject them. People would respond to God of their own free will choice. Ezekiel could not control their choices. He just needed to obey with proclaiming the message. That is how the Word of God still works. The watchman cries out. The people choose to act on the warning.