Reputation on the Line

This week in class we have been going through the book of Ezekiel. It is one of my favourite books in the Bible because of how much Ezekiel’s life challenges me.

Ezekiel was a man who for seven years was not able to speak (unless they were the words God gave him to speak) and he was not able to leave his house (unless it was for a specific purpose that God was sending him on). Ezekiel was married at this time; imagine what this would have meant to his family not to be able to communicate any personal matter.

Ezekiel was a prophet of God; a man sent to speak God’s words to the people of Israel when they had been taken into exile in Babylon for breaking their covenant (contract) with God. The people of God went into exile in three groups; Ezekiel was amongst the second deportation to Babylon before the nation completely fell to the Babylonian Empire. He spoke before people believed that Jerusalem (capital city) would fall to Babylon and as a result, his words were not believed.

Ezekiel walked in total obedience to God through his life, which resulted in him doing some crazy things – included lying on his side for a year and a half and eating nothing but daily portion of lentils and water, which he had to cook over poo. Gross? Yes. Require crazy-obedience? Yes.

Ezekiel’s reputation would have been destroyed by what was required of him. His credibility as a prophet (as one truly sent by God) may have gone up when Jerusalem fell to Babylon, but he would remain “that crazy guy” who dug through walls, lay on his side, and built model cities.

Ezekiel’s life should challenge us. I’m not saying that we should all go out now and lie on our side for a year or anything, but I do believe that this book calls us to bring radical obedience into our faith. It is easy to argue with God when He asks us to do something that we feel others would see as illogical, but why? Ezekiel’s ministry began with a revelation of the glory of God. He fell on his face before God’s awesomeness. If we live in awe and reverence of God, then we will fear Him over the opinion of others.

The APPLICATION question for this is:

“Is my reputation too valuable to me to put it on the line to serve God???”

Sometimes we look at this as meaning change, but it doesn’t have to be radical change in what we’re doing (e.g. a new job), but rather how we live out our faith in our day to day life. Yes, sometimes God calls us to change jobs or to give things up in a way that others will criticise. But mostly it’s that daily call to obedience, that small thing that we must be willing to appear different in.

When you boil it down, Ezekiel walked in OBEDIENCE. He faithfully obeyed God through all the craziness. Are you prepared to do the same?

  • Do you have a sudden desire to lift up your hands in worship or sing a hymn as you walk down the street?
  • Are you prepared to miss out on a fun activity that popped up because you need to uphold your word to help a friend out, even when pressured by the cry “they’ll understand if you postpone”?
  • Perhaps the request is to stop to talk to that dear old woman at the bus stop and giving up half an hour of your time to listen to her. Or perhaps it is offering to pray for the businessman drinking his coffee in the table opposite you at the cafe.
  • For me, it is often the simple challenge of continuing to write, not knowing if it is being effective, not knowing if it is challenging people, or whether people do not like what I’m saying.
  • What is God asking you to be obedient in?

 

Up ahead: Next blog I will look at the significance of Ezekiel’s actions and why it was important that he acted these out.

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