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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Ezekiel 3:4-7, "And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted."

This morning, failure is one of the hardest pills to swallow. Man, in his fallen pride, does not like being told he is wrong or that he has been unsuccessful in his endeavours. Most people are unwilling to venture into a field where failure is a high probability, and no one is ready and willing to venture into a field where failure is a certainty. Stock brokers shy away from stocks that are dangerous, and they certainly avoid stocks that are "sure losers." Yet, failure is a part of our daily lives, for we are fallible, fallen creatures. We daily come short of the glory of God, and as much as we dislike it, we find our purposes not being accomplished as we would have them accomplished. As we mentioned in a previous segment, discouragement is a highly effective tool that Satan employs in warfare against the people of God and especially on ministers in their labour. However, everyone - ministers included - should understand that not all of our activities will prove successful, and some of them will be unsuccessful no matter how much energy is exerted in the effort.

There are some men in the Bible whose "job description" is one that I do not envy in the least. Jeremiah, as the "weeping prophet", had a hard row to hoe at times in his service to God among the people of Judah before and during their captivity by Babylon. Ezekiel too had a difficult task at times in service to God with the captives in Babylon. However, in both cases, these men were no less responsible to serve God as He had called them and fulfill what He commanded them. Even if they knew what the outcome would be before their effort was exerted, their course was to be as diligently steadfast had they not known.

What the Lord, in our passage above, tells Ezekiel is that he is being sent to people that he is familiar with. He understands these people, has the same language, same heritage, etc. However, the Lord also foretells Ezekiel's success (or in this case lack of it) in his efforts. No matter how fervently Ezekiel would speak to the people of Israel, they were not going to hear him. Despite his pleadings and warnings, their stiffnecked and hardhearted attitude would prevent them from receiving the beneficial wisdom of God at the mouth of His prophet. Knowing this thought, one might inquire, "What is the relevance today? What does this teach us thousands of years removed from this historical record?"

One of the first things to be gleaned from this passage is the thought that not all of God's people will respond favorably to the commandment of God. In this day, God's word came directly from the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, and today, the message comes personally through reading and study of God's word and communally through the preaching of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. We learn of His commandments and our intertwined duty through these different channels, but not all of God's family are obedient to the call to duty. Just as the children of Israel were afflicted with pride, stiffnecked and hard hearts, so we today are just as dreadfully capable of doing likewise. Looking at the children of Israel in the Old Testament, we see examples for us today - mostly in what not to do. (I Corinthians 10:6, 11)

If it was indeed true that all of God's children would respond favorably to the gospel in this age, then it would have been equally true that all of God's people would have responded favorably to the prophet's word in that day. However, the correlation does not exist, but a rather saddening correlation does exist in that a great many did not in that day and do not in this day. Looking at Christ's own words, we find a great many doing what they should not with just a few finding the right way to go. (Matthew 7:13-14) Christ's own preaching was a "turn off" to a great many people, some of whom are no less children of God but could not endure His hard saying. (John 6:60, 66)

The problem in Ezekiel's day was not due to a language barrier. It was not due to people being unrelatable to one another. God describes these people as Ezekiel's own kinsman. Our lack of success in preaching today or discussing Scriptures with others may not stem from people we cannot relate to or communicate with, but it may stem from old-fashioned impudence and pride.

The next (and perhaps most important thing) to glean from this account is that we need to be faithful to the Lord's commands regardless of the circumstance. Sometimes we may ask ourselves, "What would I do if I knew the outcome beforehand?" If we knew before we engaged in an activity that it would come to nought, would we still do it? Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I knew that the Lord was coming back tomorrow or next week. However, the same answer that must be returned is that we need to be found faithful. Should we know the Lord to be coming back next week or not, our course of faithfulness does not change. Should we know that our efforts will be in vain but we are called upon to do them, our course of faithfulness should not change.

Indeed, preachers get discouraged when our words return unto us void. It is discouraging to see words fall on deaf ears whether in the church or out of it. Discouragement many times abounds when we talk to folks about the goodness and mercy of God as the Scriptures declare and find them unwilling to agree to the concepts. My mind is frustrated when people in conversation ignore plain Scripture and say, "I'm going to do what I want anyway." However, whether in success or failure, our efforts need to be steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. (I Corinthians 15:58) Whether people are stirred by the exhortation and discussion or not, our Lord is pleased when we are faithful. He is well pleased when we do good and do not forget to communicate of that goodness, offering Him praise and thanksgiving with our lips. (Hebrews 13:15-17)

Ezekiel was given the outcome before he started, but later is shown the great responsibility of his calling. Should Ezekiel be faithful to speak as the Lord have him speak, he has saved himself, for the blood of the wicked person lies upon that person. However, if Ezekiel fails to be faithful to God's command to herald the Divine message, the wicked person would surely perish, but the person's blood would be upon the messenger's (Ezekiel's) hands. (Ezekiel 3:17-20) Whatever our station in life (minister or otherwise), our command to be faithful to the Lord and His guidance in our life is consistent and perpetual. If there are those we are responsible for - ministers/congregations, parents/children, teachers/students, etc. - we should faithfully fulfill our duties to and for them regardless of the season or circumstance. What if they do not hear, or more poignantly, what if we know they will not hear? It matters not, for our calling of service requires faithful fulfillment until death claims these old bodies.

God has not called us to be comfortable, nor is it always the case that He calls us to great success in the realm of our brethren. In Ezekiel's case, his success was foretold as impossible in this regard. However, He has called us to be faithful to Him, and by fulfilling that, we are successful in His sight, which is the important thing at the end of the day. There is an old expression that does not quite hit the mark, "At the end of the day, you should be able to look in the mirror and be successful in your own eyes, no matter what others may think." A more apt description of Godly success is being able to look in the mirror and be successful in Christ's sight. If we continue steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, our labour will not be in vain in His sight (in the Lord). May we be found so doing and so keep ourselves unspotted from the world, and unlike Ezekiel, who knows what effect it may have on those around us to the glory and praise of our Heavenly Father?

In Hope,

Bro Philip