Ezekiel was a prophet of God. He lived at a dark time in Israel. When the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in 605 B.C., Daniel and other Jews were deported to Babylon. Eight years later the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem again. This time Ezekiel and thousands of others were taken to Babylon. But the conflict was not over. The third and final battle came in 586 B.C. when the Chaldeans destroyed the holy city and burned the temple of God.
We can look back through history and see what happened. The Jews in Ezekiel’s day didn’t have history books and the Bible like we do to see what would happen after the second deportation. However, they did have Ezekiel the prophet. Ezekiel was inspired of the Holy Spirit to preach to the people. His job was to rebuke them for their sins, to warn them of the last stage of the war, and to call them to repentance.
You would think that the war would have humbled the Jews by the time Ezekiel arrived in Babylon. There were a few who were godly—Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But most of the Jews who were left back in Jerusalem and those who were in Babylon refused to admit defeat. They had too much national pride. When Ezekiel warned them that the worst was yet to come, they persecuted him.
Ezekiel had a hard job preaching to these people. God told him from the start that his task would not be easy. What did God tell this prophet as he entered this battle? Here is what the Lord said:
And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.
For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’
As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.
“And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.
You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.”
After all the pain they had been through and although Jeremiah had warned them for forty years, they were still stubborn and rebellious!
How did Ezekiel endure such a hostile environment? God told him not to be afraid. He said not to fear their words or their looks. He also told Ezekiel not to worry about the results—“Whether they hear or whether they refuse…yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.” His job was to preach the Word.
We need to go back and meditate on this story. We live in a time of great sin and apostasy. We must take courage and speak what God says whether people listen or not. Our culture is decaying from the inside. Our politicians and our money cannot heal it. Christians are leaving the Lord and churches feel powerless to stop it. Hostility to the Word of God is growing. But let us preach the Word in season and out of season (II Tim. 4:2). Whether people accept the Truth or reject it, at least they will know that a man of God has been among them. We are not prophets like Ezekiel, but we have the written Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. Let us wield it to the end.