Sunday, July 25, 2010

FOREHEADS OF FLINT

PAUL AND EZEKIEL
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing

“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.”
Ezekiel 3:7,8

“I served the Lord with great humility and tears, although
I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.  You know
that I have not hesitated to preach anything that
would be helpful to you…”
Acts 20:19,20

          To preach the whole gospel, the Word of God in its simplicity and power, will require everything of a man.  This calling is high—so high that it requires the utmost in humility and godly stubbornness—which are qualities sorely lacking in most of us.

          This man Ezekiel was called to speak the Words of God to the people of God.  He was not sent out to preach to strangers in a strange land (Ezek. 3:4-6).  He was sent to speak to Israel, which is the spiritual Israel, including all of us who by faith are descendants of Abraham (Romans 9:8).

          And God warned Ezekiel at the beginning.  He said that Israel wouldn’t listen to Ezekiel because they were “hardened and obstinate”.  He was equipping Ezekiel with a quality of character that would help him endure this opposition and hatred, this hardheaded stubbornness.  God was going to give Ezekiel a “forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.” (Ezek. 3:9)  The command God gave to Ezekiel was that no matter whether the people of God listened or not, he was to speak out the Word he was given.  That was his task.  Give what he was given.  Every Word, every phrase, every truth.

          Paul is our New Covenant example of an Ezekiel.  Paul endured incredible opposition and hatred from those who called themselves Jews.  The plots he refers to here in Acts resulted in many beatings and floggings, long periods of imprisonment, a stoning, the necessity to flee for his life on a number of occasions, and continuous harassment.  Yet Paul, in his humble and persistent way, never stopped preaching and teaching the “full message of this new life”. (Acts 5:20)  This man, with the obstinacy and stubbornness of God’s love in his veins, declared near his death, “that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Acts 20:26,27)

            When you and I talk of the gift of prophecy that comes from the Holy Spirit, we must take Paul and Ezekiel as examples.  Like our Lord Jesus, they endured hostility from those who called themselves religious.  When God calls a man, He gives this man the Spirit of Jesus in him to stand up to these obstinate people.  Make no mistake, brothers, as modern Shepherds, we are under the same commands.  Like David, God will enable you to defeat the lion or the bear that comes after the flock. 

          “I know that after I leave,” Paul said, “savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw disciples away after them.  So be on your guard!”
(Acts 20:29-31) 

          One final important thing about both Ezekiel and Paul, which they share with the Lord Jesus and the host of other prophets God has used throughout history.

          Neither of them were called by men.  They weren’t chosen because of their talents.  They weren’t put forward for ordination in a religious institution.  They didn’t follow some prescribed path to career fulfillment as a minister of the truth.  They didn’t pursue a man-pleasing higher educational goal before they answered the call of their Lord. 

          But they, like Jesus, knew their time had come.  When God calls you, you’ll know.  The Word of God will be like it was for these two men—fire in their bones—that could not be shut in.  They had to obey, because it was God doing the work in them, not them doing a work for God.  The Father was working, and so they were working.

          Obey God rather than men today, all you brothers who know this call on your life.  But remember, let God do the work in you, and let Him speak the Word through you.  It is not about the messenger, but it is about the One who sends him.  What a calling! 

            “Jesus answered, ’My teaching is not my own.  It comes from Him who sent me…He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”  (John 7:16-18)

            There are many today who speak on their own.  There are many who are called by men, not by God.  There are scores who talk more about themselves, their own ministries, and their own opinions, than they do about Christ.  But you, man of God, be true to the One who sends you.  Speak the simple truth He gives us in His Word.  May we be men who honor the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and may nothing false be found in us. 

           

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