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Ray Rooney, Jr.: Where Is Ezekiel?
Friday, March 14, 2014 11:15 PM

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the prophet was told to eat a scroll that contained the word of God.  As soon as he did, God told him “go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.”  The metaphor is clear: the word of God in; the word of God out.  And the word of God was not a happy one to the Hebrews.  Repeatedly the prophet is told by God that the people were rebellious and hard-headed  and would not listen to him.  However, despite the fact that God foretells the Israelites would not take Ezekiel’s words to heart “they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2:5).

That’s puzzling isn’t it?  Those who reject the word of God seem to know that it is indeed the word of God they are rejecting.  More than anything else I believe this is what it means to made in the image of God and after His likeness.  The words of God cannot help but ring familiar and true in the human race…whether we like it or not.  Even if they hate, reject, despise, ridicule, and humiliate the purveyor of God’s word, they know what it is when they hear it. 

It takes someone special to enter into a vocation knowing ahead of time that by every worldly standard and measure of success he will be deemed a complete failure, but forge forcefully ahead because that is the calling of God on his life.  With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the New Testament Church has assumed the role of God’s prophet.  We have been told by Jesus

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you ((John 15:18-19). 

And

 

Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God (John 16:2). 

And

 

In the world you will have tribulation (John 16:33). 

Does that sound or look anything like the Church in the world today?  Not by a long shot.  Today’s Church is desperately seeking to be accepted by the world; its society and culture.  Very clearly, a Church that is not hated and persecuted is not espousing the word of God.  God’s word does at least two things when it is spoken in the world: it convicts and compels.  It convicts a sinner’s conscience and compels a decision.  Because it is God’s word the Spirit Himself brings conviction (John 16:8).  Which is why God told Ezekiel that “they will know that a prophet has been among them.”  What to do with the word rests solely with the hearer(s).  But whether they decide to accept or reject it they cannot hide from what it is.  They know from whence it truly comes.

The problem with today’s Church is that it doesn’t have the stomach for the word of God.  It doesn’t want to hear that abortion and homosexuality are vile corruptions of human relationships.  Abortion has been the law of the land for decades and homosexuality is wildly popular.  The Church has no interest in telling sinners what kinds of behaviors will keep people out of God’s favor and kingdom (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10;  Galatians 5:19-21; and Revelation 21:8).  

As a whole, the Church has no prophetic word today.  It no longer calls sinners to repentance inviting them into a right relationship with God based on holiness.  Instead, it affirms sinners’ rights and tells everyone that God doesn’t judge people based on how they live.  The Church doesn’t ingest the word of God anymore so it cannot proclaim to the broken sinful peoples “Thus says the Lord…”  

Parts of the Sermon on the Mount are trotted out to justify its endorsement of sinful behavior like “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) and “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).  Of course the parts that uphold the integrity of holiness are conveniently overlooked like “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you…” (Matthew 5:11) and “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21).  

The Church instead wants to fit in with culture and succeed by worldly standards.  It is compromised.  Consequently, the sinful people that God really does love, do not know that a Prophet is in their midst.  The word of God never has been nor ever will be fully embraced by a fallen world.  Like Ezekiel the Church has been told not expect a warm welcome or even acceptance in the world.  We have been told the pathway of obedience will lead through the valley of humiliation and despair.  Yet even so, like Ezekiel we are told “go…and speak with my words to them.”  We aren’t assured of either acceptance or appreciation.  The only “perk” we get is “they will know that a prophet has been among them.”  

Where, oh where, is Ezekiel today? 

Ray Rooney, Jr.

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