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”
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
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
the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to
God (John 16:2).
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
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
Where, oh where, is Ezekiel today?
Ray Rooney, Jr.