Ezekiel was called to serve when he was 30 years old; that is a landmark age. It’s three decades of tasting life’s misery, beauty, pleasures and inadequacies; like us, he’d had his share. I don’t know what his plans for the future were, perhaps they were to get out of exile and start a new life. However God’s plan took priority over his.
While we are searching, hoping, longing, looking, planning, or just wandering and cannot find our footing; one day God will show up. He will corner each of us while we’re in the ruins of this world and give us marching orders, directing us to work for Him. God calls every man to work, but some are chosen for special work. If, chosen, God will call you like He did Ezekiel, no matter your age. What He calls you to do, may be just as scary and irrational as what He called Ezekiel to do. What will you do then?
A key component of Ezekiel, is the CHALLENGING tasks. You cannot read the book and not be awestruck by them. How did Ezekiel feel? As mentioned already, he sat among the exiles overwhelmed and stressed for seven days.
Seven days it took Ezekiel to accept that God was calling him to do some ABNORMAL things. Why ABNORMAL? Because, people like you and me would say, “This is irrational, God really don’t expect me to do this. Is this what God really wants me to do?”
Let’s answer that by looking at some of the things God wanted Ezekiel to do.
- “Go, imprison yourself in your house, and I will paralyze you so you can’t leave; and I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you can’t reprove them; for they are rebels. But whenever I give you a message, then I will loosen your tongue and let you speak” (Ezekiel 3: 24-25).
- “Now lie on your left side for 390 days, to show that Israel will be punished for 390 years by captivity and doom. Each day you lie there represents a year of punishment ahead for Israel. Afterwards, turn over and lie on your right side for forty days, to signify the years of Judah’s punishment” (Ezekiel 4: 4-5).
- “During the first 390 days eat bread made of flour mixed from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and spelt. Mix the various kinds of flour together in a jar. You are to ration this out to yourself at the rate of eight ounces at a time, one meal a day. And use one quart of water a day; don’t use more than that. Each day take flour from the barrel and prepare it as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire, using dried human dung as fuel, and eat it” (Ezekiel 4: 9 -13)
- “Son of dust, I am going to take away your lovely wife. Suddenly, she will die. Yet you must show no sorrow. Do not weep; let there be no tears. (Ezekiel 24: 16)
Imagine that! Eating food cooked from the fuel of dung. Not shedding a tear when your lovely spouse dies. Imprisoned in your own home. Being paralyzed, dumb and scarcely eating food. Ezekiel had a DIFFICULT road to travel to fulfill God’s purpose. God placed the burdens of his fellow brothers on him. He told Ezekiel, “If you refuse to warn the wicked…[and] they die in their sins,… I will punish you. I will demand your blood for theirs. But if you warn them, and they keep on sinning and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins, but you are blameless—you have done all you could (Ezekiel 3: 17-19).
How did Ezekiel respond? He “did all that the Lord told him to do” (Ezekiel 24: 18).
God holds us accountable for our brothers and sisters who are in the ruins around us and around our world. He has appointed every one of us as watchmen. Until we Turn, Turn and Live, and Unite our Heart with Gods, then the work will not be urgent. Unless we Devour God’s word, the things of God will not be as important to us. Unless, we put aside fear, and exercise our obedience and faith in God, we will never have the passion to work. But when we do, God will equip us to work in the very same ruins which we find ourselves.
He may not remove us from the ruins; Paul ministered from prison. He may raise us up in, but not out of the ruins, just like He did Daniel, Joseph and Nehemiah. He may call us out of the ruins, but sends us back to work, like He did Moses. And those who would obey, find that the ruins though visible, diminish, in the light of His presence. God’s inexpressible glory, His unfathomable mercy and His philanthropic kindness outshines every ruin. Remember He is Lord of the Ruins.
If God seems to be calling you to do some unusual or abnormal things, listen to His voice. Dig deep in His word to ensure that the voice you hear is God’s. He leads hands where there is work. He leads hearts that are willing. He may call you to do the irrational, but God also works in irrational ways. Like we are sometimes, Ezekiel wasn’t up to the task at hand, but, “God strengthens” and He will do the same for you. There is work to be done in the ruins. I pray that you will rise to the task and do it.
Ezekiel 3: 17, “I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel; whenever I send my people a warning, pass it on to them at once.”
Artwork: Donald Keefe (Used with Permission)