Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the fourth chapter. It’s in this particular passage where the Lord of hosts begins speaking to Ezekiel concerning the house of Israel, and the plans and purposes for it. In the previous chapter the Lord revealed to the prophet that he had been ordained to be a watchman unto the house of Israel. The Lord made the face of Ezekiel strong against their faces, and his forehead strong against their foreheads. The Lord of hosts revealed to Ezekiel that all the words which He would speak unto him he was to receive in his heart, and hear with his ears. Before moving into the fourth chapter, it’s necessary that we pay close attention to what we read here, for the Lord was revealing to Ezekiel more than just the simple fact that he was going to speak unto him. The Lord not only revealed to Ezekiel that He was going to speak unto him, but He also went on to encourage and instruct him to receive all the words he heard within his heart, and to hear all those words with his ears. RECEIVE IN THY HEART, HEAR WITH THINE EARS! The real question is not whether or not the Lord is speaking unto us in this generation, for the author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes—“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote that God is indeed speaking unto us in these Last Days—not necessarily through prophets as He once did, but through and by His own Son. The Father is indeed speaking in these Last days through and by His Son. The question isn’t whether or not the Father is speaking unto us, but whether or not we are receiving His words in our heart, and hearing with our ears. The Lord of hosts directly connected receiving within one’s heart and hearing with one’s ears in this particular passage in the third chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. The Lord revealed to the prophet that He was indeed going to speak to him, yet when he heard the words and voice of the Lord, he was to receive them in his heart and hear with his ears. It wasn’t enough for the Lord to speak to the prophet Ezekiel, for His words would mean absolutely nothing if he didn’t receive them within his heart, and hear them with his ears.
WHEN PROPHETS ARE CALLED TO RECEIVE IN THEIR HEART AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS. !t’s worth noting the words which the Lord spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, for one would not expect such words to be spoken. As prophet of the Lord, Ezekiel would hear the words of the Lord, and would proclaim and declare those words unto the house of Israel, but the Lord was calling the prophet to do more than simply proclaim the words which He would speak unto him. What the Lord was doing while speaking these words was calling the prophet to a place where before he would even proclaim the words which the Lord spoke unto the children of Israel, he was to first receive them within his heart and hear them with his ears. In other words, the prophet was to allow his own heart and life to be directly impacted and affected by the words the Lord spoke unto him. Even though the Lord would speak words which would be directed toward and for the house of Israel, the prophet was not exempt from the message found within the words which the Lord spoke. PROPHETS ARE NOT EXEMPT! PROPHETS ARE NOT IMMUNE! We tend to think of the prophets of the Lord as merely hearing the words which the Lord spoke unto them—words which more often than not were directed toward the house of Israel. Each and every prophet that stood before the Lord of hosts and in the presence of His chosen people was called to proclaim the words which the Lord unto them, yet I can’t help but wonder how much time elapsed between the time the prophet(s) receive the word(s) of the Lord concerning the people, and the time they proclaimed those words. Perhaps we have often thought and perceived that the prophets heard the words which the Lord had spoken unto them, and they immediately proclaimed those words in the hearing and in the presence of the people of God. The more I consider the words which the Lord spoke unto the prophet Ezekiel, the more I am convinced that as much as the prophets were messengers called and ordained to speak and proclaim, they were called to hear and receive, to reflect and to meditate. I can’t help but wonder if the prophets heard the word which the Lord spoke unto them in their hearing, yet before they dared speak those words in the presence and hearing of the people of God, they first allowed the message of those words to directly impact and affect their own lives.
One of the things that we learn from the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah is that the prophet Isaiah viewed himself as a man of unclean lips who dwelt in the midst of an unclean people. What’s so absolutely incredible about the prophet Isaiah’s encounter before the throne of God was that when the seraphim flew unto him with a live coal in his hand, he not only touched the live coal upon the lips of Isaiah, but he also went on to proclaim something incredible to the prophet. The seraphim took the live coal from the altar which he had taken with tongs, laid it upon the lips of Isaiah, and proclaimed unto him, saying, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Please don’t miss the significance and importance of this, for the prophet Isaiah viewed himself as a man of unclean lips and dwelling in the midst of an unclean people, and one of the seraphim took a live coal from off the altar, touched his lips with it, and then proceeded to proclaim unto him that his iniquity is taken away, and his sin was purged. WHEN THE INIQUITY OF THE PROPHET IS TAKEN AWAY AND THEIR SIN PURGED! The reason I even take the time to mention this is that when we consider the ancient prophets of the Lord, we tend to view them as those who were completely exempt from the words which they proclaimed on behalf of the Lord—those who were completely immune from the words and message the Lord had spoken unto them. The truth of the matter was that the prophets of the Lord were to do more than simply proclaim the words which the Lord had spoken unto them. I am convinced that the prophets of the Lord—while it is true they would indeed proclaim all the words which the Lord had spoken unto them—would meditate and reflect upon the words which the Lord had spoken. I do not believe for one minute that any of the Hebrew prophets immediately proclaimed the words which the Lord spoke unto them after they received them. I believe that men and women err and do so greatly when they seek to immediately convey in the hearing of others the words which the Lord has spoken unto them. Who and where are those among us who are willing to sit and meditate, ponder and reflect the words which the Lord has spoken unto them? Where are those men and women who are willing to sit still and quiet in the presence of the Lord when they have heard Him speak something unto them and truly receive it in their heart and hear it with their ears? Where are those ministers and leaders who are willing to allow themselves to be changed and transformed before they attempt to place themselves in a position where they expect others to be changed and transformed?
I am convinced that one of the greatest dangers in the house of the Lord are ministers who expect others to be changed and transformed while they themselves remain untouched, unchanged and unchallenged. There is a great danger with that minister who will hear something form the Lord, and before they speak it in the hearing of others, they first allow it to pierce and penetrate their own hearts and lives? The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, yet there are a number of ministers who refuse to think, allow, or even believe the word of God to pierce and penetrate their own hearts and lives. Dear friend, the Lord didn’t place you in a position of leadership because He thinks or even believes you have it all together. The Lord didn’t place you in a leadership role because you are exempt and immune from that which you proclaim in the hearing of others? There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect minister—as a minister who has their entire life and act together before the Lord. Heaven help us if we proceed to look for that minister who is a self-proclaimed Pharisee—one who believes wholeheartedly within themselves that there is nothing in their hearts or lives that needs to be addressed. There is no such thing as a minister or leader in the house of the Lord who is not one step away from falling flat on their faces, or being caught in a snare or trap of the enemy, or falling into a pit, or even the miry clay. There is no minister on the face of the planet who cannot, and perhaps even should not be impacted and affected by the words which they attempt to convey and speak in the hearing of others. The Lord didn’t chose and raise up men and women in positions of leadership and influence in the house of the Lord because they had their act all together, or because they were somehow on a different mountain than others. THE LORD NEVER CHOOSES LEADERS FROM ATOP THE MOUNTAIN! LEADERSHIP IS NEVER CULTIVATED ATOP THE MOUNTAIN, BUT IN THE VALLEY BELOW AND BENEATH THE MOUNTAIN. Where was David when the Lord chose him to to reign as the next king of Israel? He was tending his father’s sheep out in the field fending off lions and bears? Where were Peter and Andrew, James and John when the Lord had need of them to walk with Him as His disciples? They were mending their nets after having fished all night and catching nothing. Where was the great apostle Paul when the Lord took and laid hold of him? He was on his way to Damascus with what was essentially a court order to arrest, and possibly even kill all those Christians which were present within the city.
If there is one thing you must recognize and consider when reading the Scriptures, it’s that the Lord never chooses, nor does He take His leaders from atop the mountains, but rather, He takes them from in the midst of the valleys. QUIT LOOKING ATOP THE MOUNTAIN FOR THAT WHICH CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE VALLEY BELOW! I would dare say there are a number of men and women who are looking atop the mountain for that which can only be found in the valley below. The Lord has no need for those ministers who think and believe they have everything all together and have no need of grace, or mercy, or even salvation and deliverance. Much of the book of Psalms was written by a man who faced his own struggles and trials before the Lord, and even had certain moments when he stumbled and fell before the Lord. The more I consider the words which the Lord spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, the more I am convinced that there is a great need in this generation for men and women who are able to be challenged by the words which the Lord speaks. Heaven help that individual who is called to speak on behalf of and for the Lord, yet are completely unable to be challenged by the words which they have heard from the mouth of the Lord. The Lord is looking for men and women who hear the words He has spoken and will speak unto them and will receive them in their heart and hear them with their ears. It is not enough for the Lord to speak His words unto us, for we must receive them within our heart. What’s more, is that it isn’t enough for us to receive them with our heart, but must hear them with our ears. When it comes to the words which the Lord has spoken and will speak in our hearing, we must not only hear, but we must also receive. There are those who are perhaps able to hear the words which the. Lord has spoken unto them, yet they are unwilling, and perhaps even unable to receive them in their hearts. One of the greatest challenges is to take what we have heard with our ears and allow it to be received within our hearts. It is only when the words the Lord has spoken are received within our hearts that we can truly be changed and transformed before and in the presence of the Lord. Do not dare think that true change and transformation can take place if you are called to speak and proclaim the words of the Lord, yet you are not willing to hear and receive them. Do not dare think that you can hear the words which the Lord has spoken, proclaim them in the hearing of His people, and yet they somehow have no weight, meaning of significance within, upon and for your own life. Where are those ministers who will hear the words of the Lord, and instead of immediately perceiving them as being directly applicable to those to whom they have been sent, will first ask how they apply to them within their own lives.
Where are those men and women who are willing to read and hear the words of the Lord and immediately ask themselves how those words may apply to their own lives. There are many who are so quick to read and hear the words of the Lord, and think of how they apply to others, yet they never take the time to consider how those words directly apply to their own hearts and lives. The prophet Ezekiel would hear the words of the Lord, yet would be instructed to receive them within his heart, and hear them with his ears. The prophet was instructed to do more than simply speak, and there are a number of men and women who get themselves in danger and trouble in this arena. They perceive themselves as being called only to speak, yet never needing to take the time to receive within their heart and hear with their ears the words the Lord has spoken. The prophet Ezekiel was going to hear all the words of the Lord, yet before he was instructed to go and get himself to them of the captivity, he was to receive in his heart, and hear with his ears. So many times we begin with “all my words that I shall speak unto thee” and immediately jump to “go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them.” We fail to recognize and understand that in between “all my words that I shall speak” and “go,” “get thee,” “speak” and “tell,” there is “receive in thine heart,” and “hear with thine ears.” How many times have men and women attempted to go and get themselves unto a people without having received in their heart and heard with their ears? How many men and women immediately rush to “speak unto them,” and “tell them” without having first received within their heart and hear with their ears? I would dare say that until and unless you are willing to receive in your heart and hear with your ears the words which the Lord has spoken, you care not attempt to get yourself up from your place and attempt to speak as an oracle and vessel of the Lord. I would dare say that if we are not willing to sit quietly before the Lord and receive in your heart the words which He has spoken, we dare not, we should not, we must not get ourselves up from the place we have been sitting and go and proclaim what we have heard. We must allow ourselves to be directly impacted and affected by the words which the Lord has spoken and not simply expect others to be the ones who need to be impacted. We play a dangerous game when we think and believe the only ones who need to be exposed to the words of the Lord are those to whom we have been called and sent. I have said it once and I will say it again that ministers and leaders are not exempt from the words which the Lord has spoken, and in fact, they are to be the first ones who are impacted and affected by them.
The prophet Ezekiel was called, ordained and chosen to stand before the Lord as a watchman—one who would both hear the sound of danger, calamity and judgment, and even see the sight of danger, calamity and judgment. The prophet was raised up and appointed as a watchman unto the house of Israel—one who would hear the word at his mouth and give warning from the Lord. The great responsibility that surrounded this concept of being a watchman is that if he was given warning, yet he chose not to proclaim it unto those to whom he had been sent, he himself would be held liable and responsible for the message. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MESSAGE! THE RESPONSIBILITY TO THE MESSAGE. The prophet Ezekiel would be ordained as a watchman unto the house of Israel and not only bore the responsibility to proclaim the message unto the children of Israel, but the prophet also bore the responsibility of not proclaiming the message unto them. If the prophet received and heard warning from the Lord and yet chose not to convey that warning, he himself would be held responsible for the silence. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SILENCE! WHEN SILENCE IS DEADLY! WHEN SILENCE IS DANGEROUS! Did you know that silence can be deadly and silence can be dangerous? Did you know that there is a tremendous responsibility that is directly connected to our silence—especially when we have been given warning from the Lord? What we must realize is that when we choose to remain silent when the Lord has given us warning, not only do those we have been called to proclaim the words of the Lord suffer, but we also suffer. Notice in the nineteenth verse of the third chapter that the Lord speaks of the responsibility of the prophet to his silence, as well as the responsibility of man to the message. There is not only a responsibility of the prophet to speak and proclaim the words and message of the Lord, but there is also a responsibility of the hearers to hear and respond to the message. If the prophet Ezekiel heard and received warning from the Lord and yet chose not to give that warning to those to whom he had been sent, he himself would be held responsible for both the message and the silence. The prophet Ezekiel would be held accountable and responsible for his silence, for it would be his silence that would result in the destruction and devastation of the wicked who did not hear the message the prophet was to speak unto them. The prophet Ezekiel was ordained as a watchman unto the house of Israel, and as such, he was responsible for hearing and receiving warning from the Lord, and to convey that warning. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women are directly responsible for men and women perishing in their iniquity because they both saw and heard the warning, yet did not proclaim that warning. As a watchman unto the house of Israel, the prophet Ezekiel was not only called to hear and proclaim the warning, but he was also called and instructed to receive the words of the Lord in his heart and hear them with his ears.
In the first chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the prophet experiencing the heavens being opened, visions of God, and an encounter with and before the glory of the Lord. In the second chapter we discover the prophet beginning to encounter and experience the voice of the Lord speaking to him. In the third chapter we discover the prophet not only being instructed to eat the scroll that was placed before him, but he was instructed to receive the words which were spoken, and hear them with his ears. It’s important to note the instruction of the Lord to the prophet Ezekiel to not only receive in his heart, but also hear with his ears, for it conveys the fact that the Lord can and does indeed speak , yet the question is not whether or not the Lord speaks. The true question is not whether or not the Lord speaks, but whether or not we are hearing with our ears, and receiving within our hearts. The Lord is indeed and is in fact speaking unto us, but we must make the conscious and deliberate decision whether or not we are going to not only hear the words the Lord is speaking, but whether or not we are going to receive them in our heart. Notice that when speaking to each of the seven churches in Asia, Jesus Christ calls those with ears to hear to hear what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches. In other words, the Spirit was speaking to the churches, but the question was whether or not they would have ears to hear, and would indeed hear. Notice in the twenty-second verse of the third chapter the hand of the Lord was upon Ezekiel and instructed him to “arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.” There was something very specific the Lord desired to speak to the prophet, and in order to speak that unto him, the prophet was instructed to go out into the plain. It was by the river where Ezekiel would see the vision of the glory of the Lord of hosts, and it would be in the plain where the Lord would talk with him. In the twenty-third verse the prophet describes how he arose and went forth into the plain, and when he arrived in the plain, “behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river Chebar.” The glory of the Lord which was first seen and manifested by the river Chebar was now manifesting in the plain, and it would be there in the plain where the Lord would speak to the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel who was chosen to stand before the Lord as His watchman would hear and receive very specific words from the Lord concerning and pertaining to the house of Israel which were captive in a strange and foreign land. One of the most intriguing realities I find concerning the prophet Ezekiel is that he dwelt among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans, and he was called to a captive people. Ezekiel who served in the courts of the Lord as priest would now find himself among the captives and called to proclaim the words of the Lord to a captive people. How absolutely incredible it is that even though there was a people captive in the land of the Chaldeans, the Lord still raised up for and among them one who would hear His words, and speak them unto them.
What we read in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is rather unique, for it is in the fourth chapter where we begin to discover the prophetic word(s) the Lord desired to speak unto the house of Israel beginning to manifest. Up until this point in time the prophet Ezekiel experienced and encountered the glory of the Lord, and heard the voice of the Lord concerning his mission and assignment. Here in the fourth chapter the prophet Ezekiel would begin hearing the heart and mind of the Lord concerning the house of Israel, and would begin to understand all the Lord had planned and purposed for His people. It would be here in this fourth chapter the prophet Ezekiel would learn of the siege which would be mounted against the city of Jerusalem, and the weapons and devices that would be brought against it. It would be here in this fourth chapter the prophet Ezekiel would be called to be among his people as a sign of what the Lord was doing and would do among them. In the fourth chapter we find the prophet Ezekiel not only called to stand as a sign of siege against the city of Jerusalem, but also as a sign of the iniquity of Israel and Judah. The prophet Ezekiel’s ministry would be more than simply hearing and speaking the words which the Lord would speak unto the house of Israel, but the prophet Ezekiel would actually be called to stand and move among them as a sign. The prophet Ezekiel would be set in the midst of the people of Israel as a sign and a watchman—a sign that would reveal and point to specific realities among them, and as a watchman who was called, and even expected to see and hear warning, and to give that warning unto them. The question that must be asked is whether or not we are aware of the sign and the warning that is present among us in this generation. The Lord has released and raised up his signs and warnings among us in this generation, but we must ask ourselves whether or not we are truly listening to and paying attention to them. Ezekiel was placed in the midst of and among the house of Israel as both a sign, but also as a watchman which was to give warning. Ezekiel would be among them as a watchman to give warning, but also a sign to reveal the mysteries of God concerning His plans and purposes regarding them. Let us read these passages as such, and let us understand that which the Spirit of the Lord desires to speak to us in this generation, and more importantly—concerning our own lives. Let us be willing to sit quietly, patiently, and reverently before the Lord, and let us receive His words in our heart and hear them with our ears in order that we might be challenged, changed, convicted and transformed by and according to the power of the Holy Spirit.