“You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen” (Ezekiel 2:7)
Elijah wasn’t the only warrior who God had called to a difficult ministry. Ezekiel found himself proclaiming “mourning and woe” to the unrepentant people of Israel. It must have been difficult to continue faithfully professing God’s Word to a hostile audience, often at great personal risk and sacrifice, especially knowing that the rebellious house of Israel would not listen. However, God also promised to be with Ezekiel, giving him the strength and fortitude to carry out his mission: “But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:7-9)
Despite immediate rejection, God was working through Ezekiel in His own way and His own time, and Ezekiel’s words from God would have a tremendous impact on the exiled Israelites at a later date. God promised that His Word would not go out in vain: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11: 19-20). Although Israel’s guilt was immense, God would remove the stain of their sin, promising that He would “make atonement for you for all you have done” (Ezekiel 16:63).
Sometimes Ezekiel probably felt like he was preaching to a bunch of dead bodies. Turns out, this was literally true (see Ezekiel 37:1-14). The people of Israel had become spiritually dead. They had detached themselves from the Living God and no longer sought life and nourishment in His Word. Could anything restore life and flesh to these “dry bones”? Absolutely. The Breath and Spirit of God could come into even these decrepit cadavers and bring new life and vitality to a nation of men and women who were utterly decayed. Although Ezekiel had been given a bitter task, the ultimate call to repentance and salvation through God’s Word was “as sweet as honey” in his mouth (3:3).
If the sweetness has gone out of your ministry, feed once again upon the honey of God’s story of salvation. Know that his Word does not go out of you in vain. When all you see are dry bones, speak the Breath of God and let Him raise up the mighty armies in His own time. Though the fighting is bitter, the victory that we have through Jesus Christ is all the sweeter when we see hearts of stone being melted and hope renewed. What could be better than that?
“As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness…I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:12,16)
Prayer: Lord God, Heavenly Father, let all those who struggle with difficult ministries taste and share the sweetness of Your Word. Give them strength and courage to fight on, reassuring them of Your promise to make Your Word fruitful. Empower us with Your Spirit as we breathe Life in a land of dry bones, through the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.