In Ezekiel, Chapter 1, we read the strange and mysterious vision which God gives to His Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel. Toward the end of the chapter, he sees a vision of the heavenly, sapphire throne of God, and hears the voice of God calling him into his own prophetic ministry. Ezekiel reported that God “said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.’ As He spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard Him speaking to me.” (Ezekiel 2:1-2)
In the words of our text, God’s tells Ezekiel to courageously proclaim His holy Word and will to “a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against Me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.” (Ezekiel 2:3-4)
We see the hardship of working with such rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn people reflected in the difficult ministries of the prophets who preceded Ezekiel. (Ezekiel’s ministry dates from around 600 B.C.) 150 years before Ezekiel was Isaiah (c. 750 B.C.); 150 years earlier than that was Elijah (c. 900 B.C.); and 700 years before that was Moses (c. 1600 B.C.). Each of these men faced the task of speaking God’s Word of Law (His commands and expectations) and Gospel (the good news of His love, forgiveness, mercy and grace) to people who were unwilling to listen.
From our very first parents, Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, human beings have always been rebellious! “I want what I want, and I want it now!” From that time until now, we, too, have needed a prophet from God who will speak to us… to you and to me! And in His great love and mercy, our Heavenly Father has sent us such a prophet – THE prophet, the spokesman of God; Jesus – God Himself among us! He came to substitute His sinlessness for our sinfulness; His obedience for our disobedience; His death to give us eternal life.
He now calls us, who have received this new life in Christ, to rise up, be filled with His Spirit and to proclaim His Word of Truth to the rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn people who live with us and all around us. This is the call and ministry He gives to Holy Cross congregation and to each of us, individually, as children of God.
This last week’s tragic U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual marriage in all 50 states, shows us that we live at a time of rebellious people who “want what we want, and we want it right now, no matter what God says!” The High Court has, on numerous previous occasions, overstepped its authority and contradicted God’s Word. (Dred Scott in 1857; Roe vs. Wade in 1973; and now this latest case!)
Jesus commanded His followers to obey civil authority (Mark 12) as instituted by God, while recognizing that God’s authority over us reigns supreme. Peter and John, who were persecuted by the Sanhedrin for preaching the truth in the name of Jesus, finally replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
So, when the Civil authorities set themselves in conflict with the authority of God, we must Fearlessly Stand for Truth – as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were commanded to fall down and worship an image of gold set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. They “replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Today, our risen Lord Jesus calls us, who have received this new life, to rise up, be filled with His Spirit and to proclaim His Word of Truth to the rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn people who live with us and all around us. As we hold firmly to His Word, we do not have to be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them. (Ezekiel 2:6) Rather we Fearlessly Stand for Truth! This is the call and ministry He gives to Holy Cross congregation and to each of us, individually, as children of God. God help us and bless us!
See you in church THIS weekend!
Blessings in Christ,