A time to speak; a time to be silent

Ezekiel 3:16-27

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”

Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.”

So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them.  I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house.  But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

When we receive a message from the Lord we are to share it.  He holds us responsible for our actions. We have a glimpse of the nature of God and His expectations.  When he says go he expects us to go.  When he says speak he expects us to speak.  He straightforwardly informs us that some will receive the message, and some won’t.  But in our obedience we stand righteous before him.  This quest is to seek out a sense of God, who he is and what he does.  He inspires, strikes fear, loves and demands obedience.  The rebellious nature of the people does not deter his giving them a message of warning and this is an attempt to draw them back to a place of intimacy with him.  God does not just walk away when faced with the stubborn nature.  But he does require justice according to his word.

When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,…and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity;” 

In the middle of this statement is a charge to the messenger, (at this point in time it is Ezekiel),

 “you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, …his blood I will require at your hand.” 

However he also states;

“if you warn the wicked, … you have delivered your soul.”

There is another aspect to this business of delivering messages.  They are to be only what the Lord speaks.  The emphasis of this is clearly seen when Ezekiel is unable to speak unless he is delivering the words of the Lord.  Not words of his own understanding, but the words given by the Lord.

  “…you shall be mute …when I speak with you, I will open your mouth,…”

Take away:  Knowing this of God we would do well to be sure to share what he gives us to share and to be careful that it is only the Word of God and not our own interpretation, our own words of understanding.

‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who hears, let him hear; “

How often we hear this same statement from Jesus…and we also receive a charge from him to go, spread the message of the gospel, teaching them to observe what Jesus commanded and making disciples (followers) of them.   What we share is His message, His teachings, His commandments.  And we do this by example as well as the telling; making disciples requires living the truth.

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