Grace Lutheran Church Weekly Devotion - Ezekiel 33:7–9

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Published Tuesday, September 12, 2023
by Reverend Steven Zandstra

Ezekiel 33:7-9

"So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul."

Being a prophet, "a watchman" of the Most High God, does not always come with a great job description.  There are embarrassing, disgusting, and strange assignments.  There is the frustration of the fruitless preaching to rebellious people who are at times dangerous.  Hebrews 11 tells us prophets were tortured, mocked, flogged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, killed, often destitute, even wandering about.  So, who wants to be Ezekiel?  Perhaps  Ezekiel did not want to be Ezekiel either.

The thought came to me, that "I am Ezekiel."  God called me, like all pastors, to faithfully preach His Word despite the consequences, no matter what the situation is, regardless of how many people are in the pews.  At times the mission seems daunting, even pointless.  Most people do not care for what I have to say, unless, of course, I'm preaching to the choir. Then this thought came to me, "You are Ezekiel!"   The truth is, the tasks of the people God sends out are no different than the prophets or apostles, nor does God claim anything different for us.  What makes this task so terrifying is that we know who and what we are.  What it means is, we know we are lost and condemned sinners.  We might try to bargain our way out of God's call by saying, "Lord, if You think I can be Ezekiel, You have misjudged me, because I am a failure, unworthy and unqualified to serve You!  I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone."  

True, of ourselves none of us are qualified.  But God calls us anyway.  He qualifies us and sends us out.  He never sends us out among the rebellious, impudent, and stubborn people with His important task alone, without preparation, without His truth to proclaim, or without His words that give life.  Jesus tasks His disciples, all Christ believers, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age" (cf. Mt. 28:20).   The Lord has opened the way for what He wants to do for all people; to forgive His children when they turn from their wicked way: "As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live."  (Ezekiel 33:11). The desire of God our Savior has been from eternity for "all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (cf. 1 Tm. 2:4).  The truth that once and for all for the sake of Jesus' cross, your transgressions are forgiven, and your sin is covered (cf. Ps. 32:1).  God wants to give all people the blessing of that forgiveness He gave you in your Baptism.  Therefore, He appoints all Christians to lovingly go and tell the wicked that "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rm. 6:23).

God called Ezekiel long ago. He is the One who also called you by the Gospel, enlightened, and sanctified you in the true faith.   God is the One who empowers you with the Holy Spirit in your calling.  He is the One who sends you to proclaim His salvation and goes with you even in the face of rejection.  And the Lord is the One who brings you to see Him face-to-face on the day the Lord comes again. "Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all" (Rv.22:20).

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