“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’” (Ezekiel 2:3-5).
How do you feel when you share the gospel with someone you care about and they have no interest in it? Depending upon how we view our role in sharing the gospel with others, such instances can be very discouraging to us and we can take such rejection as a personal failure on our part.
Ezekiel the priest is summoned by God to prophesy to God’s people who are in captivity in Babylon. The Babylonians had been attacking Judah multiple times during this period, had carried many of God’s people captive to Babylon, but had not completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem. As Ezekiel begins his ministry to God’s people in Babylon, it would be roughly six more years before Jerusalem would be destroyed and burned (cf. Ezekiel 1:1-3; 2 Chronicles 36:9-11; Jeremiah 52:4-15).
God wants Ezekiel to proclaim His Word to God’s people already taken captive by prior attacks of the Babylonians before the ultimate fall of Jerusalem. God reveals Himself to Ezekiel in an awesome vision as Ezekiel beholds a whirlwind coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself, four living creatures, and the appearance of God’s throne in the sky (Ezekiel 1:4-28).
As the opening verses above describe, Ezekiel’s chances for “success” (i.e. as typically defined by the world’s standards) would be unlikely. God tells Ezekiel that He is sending him to prophesy to a rebellious people (Ezekiel 2:3-5). God encourages Ezekiel to not be afraid of them even though they are rebellious (Ezekiel 2:6). However, God defines His standard for Ezekiel’s successful ministry much differently than does our world. God only cared that Ezekiel proclaim God’s message to these rebellious people: “You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious” (Ezekiel 2:8). God only wanted His people to know that Ezekiel was God’s prophet who had been among them (Ezekiel 2:5).
In an interesting display for God giving His Words to Ezekiel, God has Ezekiel eat a scroll containing God’s Word and then sends Ezekiel out to speak with His people (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). As he sends Ezekiel to them, God lets him know that are going to reject Ezekiel and the message of God he brings: “But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted” (Ezekiel 3:7).
As we share the Good News of Christ with those around us, God does not hold us accountable for whether those around us obey the Gospel. God only holds us accountable for doing our part to spread His Word (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4). In sharing the gospel with others, am I seeking my own glory so I boast of all the great works I have done or am I seeking God’s glory (Matthew 5:16)? God is glorified any time I let others know what the Lord has done for me. Today, as I seek opportunities to share the message of Christ with others I will not seek my own glory and allow myself to get discouraged when that message is rejected by those who choose to remain rebellious to God, but I will seek God’s glory and glorify Him by proclaiming the Good News of what God has done for me!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).