Preserved In Captivity to Proclaim the Word of the Lord

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi who was among those who were carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans. More specifically, t day’s passage is found in chapters one through four of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter another prophet of the captivity and exile—one who would essentially prophesy at the same time Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would prophesy. As you begin reading the opening verses of the first chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find it beginning with the words: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him” (Ezekiel 1:1-3). There are a few things worth noting in this particular section of Scripture which help form the backdrop and foundation for the entire prophetic book of Ezekiel. The first thing you notice when you read the words found in these verses is that when the word of the LORD came unto Ezekiel it did do while he was among the captives by the river of Chebar. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of what is written and recorded here, for when Ezekiel was called to stand before the LORD as a prophet and messenger, he was called and chosen while he was among the captives by the river Chebar. Ezekiel was undoubtedly one of those who were carried away captive during those first years of captivity when Scripture speaks of Nebuchadrezzar carrying away captive some of the prominent men during the reign of Jehoiachin son of Josiah king of Judah. Scripture reveals how there was an initial captivity and carrying away of the people of God which took place before the actual siege of Jerusalem every took place, as Nebuchadrezzar would carry away captive the prominent men, the prominent women, and the prominent leaders within the city of Jerusalem. Undoubtedly Ezekiel was among those who were not only taken from the land of Judah, as well as from the city of Jerusalem, but Ezekiel would have been taken and separated from the house of the LORD. Scripture reveals that when the word of the LORD came unto Ezekiel he was among the captives by the river of Chebar, which undoubtedly speaks to the incredible reality that this priest of the LORD had been separated from perhaps a lifetime of ministry and service in the Temple of the LORD which was present in Jerusalem.

Scripture doesn’t reveal exactly how old Ezekiel was at the time the heavens were opened, and at the time he saw visions of God, however, we are left to speculate as to just how old he might have been when the word of the LORD came unto him. With this being said, it’s necessary to think about and consider the fact that when Ezekiel was called and ordained to stand before the LORD as one of His holy servants the prophets, he was among the captives which were by the river Chebar. Having been separated from the place of inheritance, as well as having been separated from the place of worship and offering, Ezekiel would have been there in the land of the Chaldeans among the captives attempting to get used to a new normal, and a new way of living life there in a strange and foreign land. What makes this even more intriguing and interesting when you think about and consider this reality is when you think about the fact that Ezekiel might very well have wondered what service he could provide before and unto the LORD having been among the captives in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans. Ezekiel had undoubtedly spent much of his life training to faithfully serve the LORD as a priest of the LORD, and had spent a considerable amount of time actually serving as a priest of the LORD, and now being in the land of the captivity and exile Ezekiel would essentially be cut off from the house and sanctuary of the LORD> Stop for a moment and think about what that might have been like for Ezekiel to not only be separated and removed from the sanctuary and Temple of the LORD, but no longer able to engage himself in service in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. Imagine having spent your entire life in service unto the LORD as a priest in the midst of the sanctuary of the LORD, and now having been cut off and removed from the land—and not only cut off and removed from the sanctuary of the LORD, but also being unable to serve as you once served. Imagine what it might have been like for Ezekiel to be among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans and no longer be able to serve the LORD as a faithful priest in the midst of His holy sanctuary and Temple.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but wonder what might very well have gone on in the life of Ezekiel as he was separated from the place of inheritance, as well as being separated from the sanctuary of the living God. It might have been one thing to be separated from the land of promise, the land of blessing, and the land of inheritance, however, it would have been something else entirely and altogether different to be separated and cut off from the Temple of the LORD. Ezekiel was as priest of the LORD, and would have undoubtedly served as a priest within His holy sanctuary, and yet here he was in the land of the captivity among the exiles unable to function in the captivity for which he had been set apart and called. Ezekiel—as a priest of the LORD—would have been set apart as holy unto the LORD, as he would have been among those who would have faithfully ministered before the LORD in the midst of the land of Judah and in the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel would have undoubtedly been one of the many priests during those days who might very well have gone against the grain and continued to faithfully serve the LORD—this despite the fact that the prophet Jeremiah would reveal the controversy the LORD had with the priests and prophets of those days. This is something worth thinking about and considering, for when we do it shines a whole different light on to the awesome and incredible reality that Ezekiel would have been cut off and separated from the place of glory and presence, and would have been cut off from the place of service and ministry before the LORD. Ezekiel would have been separated from that ability to minister in the courts of the LORD, and even minister before and around His holy altar there in the sanctuary of the LORD. Pause for a moment and think about what it must have been like for Ezekiel to have spent his entire life around the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, and now to be among those captives in the land of the Chaldeans having been cut off and separated from that place of glory and presence. Imagine the sense of discouragement and despair that might very well have gripped the heart and soul of Ezekiel as he was there by the river among the captives in a strange and foreign land which they knew not, and which they had never been to previously. Ezekiel had been taken and removed form the land of the Judah and form the city of Jerusalem, and I can’t help but wonder what it was like as Ezekiel was carried away captive out of the land of Judah as he perhaps looked back at the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD not wondering if he would ever see it again. Stop for a moment and think about what it might have been like for Ezekiel the priest to be carried away captive from the land of Judah knowing he might never again see the land of promise and inheritance again, as well as knowing he might never see the Temple and sanctuary of the living God.

With this being said, and with this in mind I feel compelled to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms, as well as the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. In the Old Testament book of the Psalms we find in the “Song of Ascents” a powerful description of what the mindset was like for the captives and exiles which had been carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans. It is in this particular passage of Scripture we encounter and come face to face—perhaps more than in any other place in the Old Testament—of the tremendous discouragement, the tremendous despair, the tremendous sorrow and anguish which gripped the hearts of the people of God which had been carried away as captives into the land of the Chaldeans. What’s more, is that in the twenty-ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the son of Hilkiah writing a letter unto the captives which had been carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, who had been separated and cut off from the land of inheritance, as well as from the sanctuary of the LORD in the midst of the land. In fact, I would dare say that Ezekiel might very well have been among those unto whom this letter from Jeremiah was written who would have heard the words written and contained within that letter, and would have heard the tremendous words Jeremiah wrote according to the word of the LORD. With that in mind, I invite you to consider the words found in the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms, as well as the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah:

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; If if prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem,; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundations hereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” (Psalms 137:1-9).

“Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to babylon; (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) by the hand of Elasah the son of Shahanna, and Gemariah the son of HIlkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that they may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye caused to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD. For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD; and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:1-14).

Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of what is found within these chapters and passages of Scripture, for they help paint a tremendous picture of what we find during the captivity and exile of the people of God. We know—not only from Scripture, but also from history—that the people of God weren’t carried away captive all at once, and that there would be three different and three successive waves of captivity which would take place, with the final wave of captivity taking place when the city of Jerusalem was broken up, when its wall and gates were destroyed by fire, and when the enemy and adversary had entered into the midst of it. We know that there were three different and three successive waves of captivity which had taken place during the history of the southern kingdom of Judah during those final years leading up to the judgment and wrath of the LORD, and what we find in the Old Testament book of Psalms is a powerful picture of the despair, the sorrow, the discouragement, the hopelessness, and the great anguish that would have gripped the hearts and souls of the people of God in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans. Not only had they hung up their harps upon the willows, thus signifying that they had perhaps hung up their ability to worship, but they were also asked there in the midst of the land of captivity to sing before their captors the sons of Zion. What a tremendous place to be in for these captives, as not only would they have hung up their harps upon the willows, but they would have been asked to sing the songs which they sang in Zion—songs which they could no longer sing. I can’t help but see and view what is found here in the book of Psalms as a powerful picture of the tremendous despair that not only surrounded being cut off from the land of inheritance, promise and blessing, but also being separated and cut off from that which might very well have been your purpose in the midst of the earth. What we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful picture of what Ezekiel might very well have faced and experienced there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans, as Ezekiel would have been cut off and separated from the place of promise and blessing—and not only would he have been cut off from the land of promise and blessing, but he would have been cut off from the house of the LORD and from His courts and sanctuary. That which Ezekiel would have spent his entire life around he no longer had access to being among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans and in the land of captivity and exile. How absolutely tragic it truly is to think about and consider what it might have been like for Ezekiel to be there among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans having ministered in the midst of the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, and now being cut off from the altar of the LORD, being cut off from the courts of the LORD, and being cut off form the very sanctuary of the LORD.

We dare not miss and lose sight of the tremendous significance of this, for when we come to the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we must understand that as one of the captives which are found in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans he would have been cut off from everything he knew, and everything he loved there in the land of captivity and exile. I would love to know what it must have been like for Ezekiel to be among the captives there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans knowing that he would no longer be able to serve and ministry in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for Ezekiel to be among the captives there in the land of the Chaldeans knowing that he might never see the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD again. What must have gone through the heart and mind of Ezekiel there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans as he would no longer be found among the courts of the LORD, and as he perhaps felt that his entire purpose might have been stripped away from him. Ezekiel—this priest of the LORD who would have faithfully served in His courts there in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD—would no longer minister with the gifts, the sacrifices and offerings of the LORD’s house, would no longer minister before and around the LORD’s altar, would no longer have been able to move in the courts of the LORD, and would no longer have been able to enter into the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD at all. There in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans Ezekiel would have been entirely and altogether separated from the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, and might very well have felt that his entire purpose would have been cut off and removed from his life. Oh, I can’t help but think about and wonder what it would have been like for Ezekiel to have spent his entire life in service before and unto the LORD his God in the service of His Temple, and in the service of His sanctuary, and now having been cut off from that sanctuary and forced to live in the midst of captivity and exile. What would it have been like for Ezekiel to live and dwell among the captives in the land of the captivity and exile knowing that he had been removed from the place of inheritance, and cut off from the place of presence. REMOVED FROM THE PLACE OF BLESSING, CUT OFF FROM THE PLACE OF PRESENCE! We must not quickly overlook this particular reality when reading this Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, for it helps shine a tremendous light on to just how significant this call on his life would truly have been, as Ezekiel might very well have spent his life leading up to the captivity as a priest of the LORD, but there would come a point in the midst of captivity when Ezekiel would be called and ordained by the LORD as a prophet of the most High God.

CALLED IN CAPTIVITY! CALLED IN EXILE! Perhaps one of the most intriguing realities I find about the two prophets of captivity and exile is when you think about the fact that Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah was called and taken from among the priests of Anathoth which were in the land of Benjamin, while Ezekiel once served as a priest of the LORD within His sanctuary and Temple, and was taken from serving as a priest in the sanctuary of the LORD and ordained and appointed to be a prophet. The LORD would take Jeremiah from among the priests which were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin he would have taken and called him at a young age before he would have actually had the chance to serve the LORD in His holy sanctuary—perhaps because the LORD knew that the Temple itself would be destroyed. How incredibly interesting it is to think about the fact that the LORD called, separated, ordained and appointed Jeremiah as a prophet unto the nations before he would have the chance to serve Him as a priest in the midst of the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, and the LORD called, ordained and appointed Ezekiel the priest as a prophet of the most High after he had been removed from the land of Judah, after he had been carried away as captive into the land of captivity and exile, and after he would have been cut off from the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. On the one hand we find one who was called and ordained as a prophet of the LORD before he could serve as a priest of the LORD, and on the other hand we find one who had served as a priest of the most High God, and yet who was cut off from serving as such. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the call that was upon the life of Ezekiel, it’s that the LORD would call, ordain and appoint him as a prophet before and unto him—not only after he had been cut off and removed from the land, but also after he had been cut off from the sanctuary of the LORD. What’s more, is that we must not think about, nor consider the fact that Ezekiel’s being cut off from the house of the LORD had anything to do with personal sin within his life, but rather his being carried away captives with a number of others because of the LORD’s desire to preserve them in the land of the Chaldeans rather than allow them to remain in the land of Judah and be cut off from the face of the earth altogether. If there is one thing the twenty-ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah reveals it’s that those whom the LORD allowed to be carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans were carried away and brought into the land that the LORD might watch over and that the LORD might faithfully preserve them. Jeremiah makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that not only had seventy years been decreed for the captivity and exile, but also the LORD invited the people to prosper and increase in the midst of the land of their captivity and exile. The LORD did not bring His people into the land of the Chaldeans to bring them to an end, but rather to faithfully preserve, protect and watch over them there in the midst of that land.

I sit here today think about and consider this awesome reality, and I can’t help but be captivated by the fact that although Ezekiel was carried away captive from the land of Judah, and although Ezekiel was cut off from the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, he would be brought into the land of the Chaldeans for his good that the LORD might watch over, preserve and protect him. In order for us to understand the words which are found in the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel it is necessary that we understand how he was among those who would have been carried away captive out of the land of Judah for his good that the LORD might watch over, preserve and protect him there in the land of captivity and exile. How absolutely astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that not only would Ezekiel have been permitted to be carried away as captive into the land of the Chaldeans, but it would be there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans where Ezekiel was called, ordained, and appointed as a prophet of the LORD. Although Ezekiel would no longer be able to faithfully serve the LORD as priest in His holy Temple and sanctuary, he would be called, ordained, chosen and raised up to serve before the LORD in an entirely different captivity, role and function. Ezekiel might not be able to find purpose in serving the LORD in the Temple and sanctuary there in the city of Jerusalem, however, Ezekiel would now stand before the LORD as one of His holy prophets. ALTERED PURPOSE! WHEN CAPTIVITY ALTERS THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE! WHEN CAPTIVITY ALTERS THE COURSE OF YOUR CALLING! WHEN CAPTIVITY ALTERS THE TRAJECTORY OF YOUR LIFE! If there is one thing I can’t help but find to be absolutely remarkable when considering the life of Ezekiel, it’s that captivity and exile completely altered and changed the trajectory of his life. Whereas Ezekiel might very well have spent his entire life up until the captivity in faithful service in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, he would now be called unto something completely and entirely different. As a priest of the LORD Ezekiel would have entered into that role based on lineage and being among the priests of the LORD, however, as a prophet of the LORD Ezekiel would step and enter into that based on a divine calling that would come upon him from the LORD of hosts. Ezekiel would not choose to stand before the LORD as one of his holy prophets, and there is not a doubt in my mind that Ezekiel didn’t seek this reality out within and for his life. In fact, I would dare say that Ezekiel might very well have been surprised—if not shocked—by the heavens being opened unto him there by the river of Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans, and visions of God which were revealed and made manifest before and unto him.

I find it absolutely amazing to think about how awesome this call which was upon the life of Ezekiel would have been, as it would have come without any advanced notice and warning. Ezekiel would have had no time to prepare for this calling to come upon his life, and would have undoubtedly been completely and utterly shocked when it actually appeared before and unto him. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for Ezekiel to see the heavens opened there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans, and to see visions of God—and not only to see visions of God, but also to be called and ordained by the LORD to be one of His holy servants the prophets. Ezekiel had perhaps never encountered the glory and presence of the LORD before—this despite the fact that he had spent his entire life as a priest in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. Ezekiel had perhaps never experienced, nor had he encountered the glory and presence of the LORD, and there in captivity the heavens would be opened before and unto him, and he would see visions of God. It would be in the midst of those visions of God Ezekiel would be called and ordained as a prophet of the most High God there in the land of the Chaldeans. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to consider how the LORD would have allowed Ezekiel to be carried away as captive into the land of the Chaldeans—not only to preserve, protect and watch over him, but also that He might ordain, appoint, call and raise him up to be a prophet of the most high God. The LORD allowed Ezekiel to be among those who were carried away as captive and exile in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans—not that He might bring an end to him, and not that He might punish him, but that the LORD might preserve him in that place so he could stand before him as a prophet of the LORD. PRESERVED TO PROPHESY! PRESERVED TO STAND BEFORE THE LORD AS A DIVINE ORACLE! How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Ezekiel was brought into the land of the Chaldeans that he might be ordained and appointed a prophet before and unto the LORD, and to faithfully stand before him proclaiming the word of the LORD unto the captives in the land of the Chaldeans, as well as those which remained in the midst of the land. Ezekiel would be carried away as a captive, and would have been brought into the land of the Chaldeans, and yet the LORD would have watched over and looked after him for good that he might be raised up, ordained and appointed to be a prophet of the most high God. Ezekiel would no longer minister around the sacrifices and offerings of the LORD, but he would now minister around and with the words of Almighty God.

FROM THE SACRIFICES OF THE LORD TO THE WORD OF THE LORD! FROM THE OFFERINGS OF GOD TO THE WORD OF GOD! Ezekiel at one point served as a priest of the most high God, and Ezekiel would have undoubtedly served before the LORD as a priest in the Temple and sanctuary of the most High God, and yet what we find now is Ezekiel being called, ordained and appointed to be a prophet of the LORD. What a powerful transition took place within the life of Ezekiel, as he would have been carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, and there in the midst of that land the heavens would be opened unto him, he would see visions of God, and the LORD would call and ordain him as a prophet before and unto him. Although Ezekiel might very well have struggled with finding purpose there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans, the LORD would speak unto Him and would raise him up to stand before Him as a prophet of the most High God. What a powerful truth this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for the LORD brought Ezekiel along with the other captives into the land of the Chaldeans to watch over and preserve them—and not only to watch over and preserve him, but also to raise him up as a prophet of the LORD, and as a prophet of the most high God. What’s more, is that Ezekiel was raised up to be a prophetic voice among the captives and exiles there in the land of the Chaldeans—those who perhaps had hung their harps upon the willows, and those who could not sing the songs of Zion any more because they were living and dwelling in a strange and foreign land. It would be there in that strange and foreign land the LORD would call Ezekiel and raise him up as a prophet of the most High God, and as one who would faithfully proclaim the words of the LORD—everything the LORD would command and speak unto him. It’s important that we understand that not only did the LORD raise Ezekiel up to be a prophet before and unto Him, but the LORD raised Ezekiel up to be a watchman unto the house of Judah, and unto the people of God. We dare not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome reality, for when we think about the tremendous responsibility that was placed upon Ezekiel, we must understand and recognize that he was raised up to sound an alarm, he was raised up to blow the trumpet, and he was raised up to give warning unto the people of God. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found—not only in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, but also the thirty-third chapter. Consider if you will the following words which are found within these two chapters which speak directly to the call which was upon Ezekiel the priest of the LORD who was called and ordained to be a prophet of the LORD during a time of captivity, during a time of exile, and during a time of judgment and wrath:

“Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-Abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou gavest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. NEverhtless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous man sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3:15-21).

“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: IF when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him way, his blood shall be upon his own heard. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou wilt arn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:1-9).

“Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the LORD is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the LORD is not equal. O yea house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his way” (Ezekiel 33:10-20).

When you think about and consider the narrative of Ezekiel who was called in the midst of the captivity, and who was taken from among the exiles to stand before the LORD as his faithful and holy prophet, you will find that he was indeed called to stand before the house of Israel and faithfully proclaim the word of the LORD. Not only this, but we also find concerning Ezekiel that he was called, he was set, and he was ordained to be a watchman unto the house of Israel to warn them, to sound the trumpet, and to sound the alarm. We dare not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the awesome responsibility that was placed upon the shoulders of this particular individual. What we find concerning Ezekiel is that he was raised up in the midst of captivity to sound an alarm, to blow the trumpet, and to warn the people of God concerning their iniquity, concerning their wickedness, concerning their transgression, and concerning their idolatry before the LORD. Ezekiel was called and ordained by the living God to speak that which the LORD had ordained and appointed him, and he could not at all deviate from anything the LORD spoke unto him. When Ezekiel prophesied the word of the LORD before and unto the LORD, he would proclaim absolutely everything the LORD had instructed, spoken unto and commanded him to speak. Perhaps one of the most striking and alarming realities surrounding the prophetic of the most High God is that there was absolutely no room for deviation from nor alteration of the word of the LORD. Whatever the prophet of the LORD heard that were they to speak in the hearing of the people of God—regardless of whether or not the people would hear and listen to what they spoke, and regardless of whether or not the people would reject and despise it. Even though the words which they were commanded and instructed to speak went against the grain of what the so-called prophets and seers of that day were speaking, the true and holy prophets of the LORD could not at all deviate from that which the LORD had instructed and commanded them to speak. Even though the word which they would preach and proclaim in the hearing of the people of God would have been that which would have offended others, they were instructed to faithfully proclaim and declare the word of the LORD in the hearing of all those to whom they were sent.

As you read the words which are found in the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find that not only were the heavens opened before and unto him, but it was in the midst of those open heavens that he saw visions of God. What’s more, is that it is in the opening verses of this passage of Scripture we find four distinct realities which were present and at work within the life of Ezekiel. The first reality found within the life of Ezekiel the prophet is how the heavens were opened unto him; the second reality was how he saw visions of God; the third reality was that the word of the LORD came unto him; and the fourth reality was that the hand of the LORD was there upon him. In these opening verses we find an incredibly powerful witness and testimony concerning Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi in the land of the Chaldeans, as everything would be directly linked and connected to the word of the LORD which were spoken unto him, however, before he would speak a single word unto the captivity of Israel, and unto those to whom the word of the LORD was sent, he would encounter a tremendous vision of God—and not only a vision of God, but also a vision of the glory of the living God. It would be there in the land of the Chaldeans the heavens would be opened, Ezekiel would see visions of God, and the glory of the LORD would be revealed unto him. Of all the prophets which are found in the Old Testament there are only a select few unto whom the LORD appeared unto, and whom we have a powerful rendering of His voice speaking unto them. In the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we find the son of Amoz seeing the LORD seated on His throne high and lifted up in the year king Uzziah died. In the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find this son of Hilkiah hearing the voice of the LORD speaking unto him and calling him. In the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel we don’t necessarily find the word and voice of the LORD speaking unto Daniel at the outset of the prophetic call that would be upon his life, however, we do find Ezekiel experiencing and encountering a vision of the glory of the LORD. What I find to be truly astonishing is when you think about the fact that there were two individuals—two of those who were called to be prophets of the LORD—who both saw a vision of the glory and greatness of the LORD there in the land of captivity and exile. The priest Ezekiel the son of Buzi would see the heavens opened and visions of God, while the prophet Daniel would also see a vision of the glory and greatness of the LORD in the land of captivity and exile. With this in mind, consider if you will the following passages which describe these visions of the glory and greatness of the LORD, as well as the word of the LORD speaking expressly unto these servants of the most High God:

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke, Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged. Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go” (Isaiah 6:1-8).

“The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:5-10).

“IN the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou IDS set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for ye the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:1-19).

With each of these passages we see how the LORD interacted with certain of His prophets whom He had called, chosen, ordained and appointed to be His mouthpiece and oracle in the midst of the earth. It was in the year that Uzziah the king of Judah died Isaiah the son of Amoz saw the LORD seated upon His throne high and lifted up, and His train filling the temple. It was in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah experienced the word of the LORD speaking directly unto him and ordaining and appointing him to be a prophet unto the nations, as well as unto the house of Judah. It was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month (perhaps speaking of and suggesting how old Ezekiel was when the heavens were opened and he saw visions of God), and in the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity the heavens were opened and he saw visions of God. It was in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia that a thing was revealed unto Daniel, and a certain man appeared unto him clothed in linen who according to Scripture bore the exact likeness of how Jesus is described in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand these different encounters men such as Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah had, for they are absolutely and incredibly unique when you take the time to think about them. It was during the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity Ezekiel the priest saw the heavens opened, saw visions of God, and experienced the hand of the LORD upon him, and the word of the LORD speaking unto him. Stop for a moment and think about the reality of the heavens opened and visions of God, as well as the reality of the hand of the LORD being upon Ezekiel, and the word of the LORD speaking unto him. When the LORD appeared to Ezekiel during the fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah we find both the word of the LORD and the hands of the LORD working simultaneously within and upon the life of Ezekiel. When the heavens were opened and Ezekiel saw visions of God there would also be the manifestation of the hand of the LORD coming and being upon him, and the word of the LORD speaking expressly to him. THE HAND OF THE LORD UPON, THE WORD OF THE LORD SPEAKING UNTO! I am absolutely and completely convinced there is something truly captivating about these words and this reality, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous need of both being present within the hearts and lives of those who would stand before and serve the LORD as His faithful servants and those who would speak for and on behalf of Him, as there is both the connection of His hand being upon us, and His word in our mouths.

As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering this reality of the hand of the LORD being upon Ezekiel, and the word of the LORD speaking unto him and being in his mouth, I can’t help but consider the fact that those who wish to speak on behalf of the LORD must needs have both of these realities manifested within their lives. What’s more, is that as you read this prophetic book of Ezekiel you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that the Spirit of the LORD was also heavily involved in the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel, as the Spirit of the LORD would enter into Ezekiel, and would even translate and move Ezekiel where the LORD would desire and will. IN all reality, I would dare say that within the narrative of Ezekiel—this priest turned prophet of the LORD—is not only the manifestation of the hand of the LORD upon him, and not only the word of the LORD speaking unto him and being in his mouth, but we also find the manifestation of the Spirit of the LORD within and upon him. THE HAND OF THE LORD! THE WORD OF THE LORD! THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD! There is not a doubt in my mind that if we as those who desire to faithfully serve the LORD within His kingdom we must be those who not only have the hand of the LORD with and the hand of the LORD upon us, but we must also be those who have the word of the LORD speaking unto us, and the word of the LORD within our mouths. Moreover, there must be the manifestation and activity of the Spirit of the sovereign LORD present within our hearts and lives if we are truly going to be those who faithfully minister before and unto the LORD in our generation. I absolutely love how in the opening verses of this prophetic book we find Ezekiel not only seeing visions of God, but also experiencing the word of the LORD coming expressly unto him, for it’s almost as if visions of God and hearing the word of the LORD are intrinsically linked and connected with each other. Ezekiel was one who had the hand of the LORD upon him—and not only was the hand of the LORD upon him, but the word of the LORD came and spoke unto him there by the river of Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans. It would be there in the place of captivity and exile the word of the LORD and the hand of the LORD would be manifested within and upon the life of Ezekiel, and it would be there where the word of the LORD would come unto him ordaining and appointing him to be a prophet unto the house of Israel. What I find to be truly remarkable about this particular reality is when you consider the fact that it would be the word of the LORD speaking unto and within the mouth of Ezekiel that would determine what he would say, and it would be the hand of the LORD and the Spirit of the LORD that would govern where he went. For us to truly understand what it means to be a servant of the most High God it is absolutely necessary that we understand and recognize the awesome reality, for when we think about and consider the narrative of the hand of the LORD, the Spirit of the LORD, and the word of the LORD, we must understand that not only what we speak, but also where we go must needs be governed completely and utterly by the LORD.

The awesome and powerful truth surrounding the life of the prophet Ezekiel is that everything would begin with him when the heavens were opened, and when he saw visions of God, and it would be in that place where we find the word of the LORD coming expressly unto Ezekiel, and the hand of the LORD being upon him. Concerning this concept of the hand of the LORD being upon Ezekiel—and even upon us within our own lives—it is absolutely necessary to recognize that the presence of the hand of the LORD within our lives, and the presence of the hand of the LORD upon us doesn’t always mean that its presence can and will be pleasant and easy within our lives. It is very much possible that the presence of the hand of the LORD within our lives can be heavy and at times difficult to bear. You cannot read the prophetic book of Ezekiel and not encounter the tremendous weight and burden the hand of the LORD being upon him actually had upon him. If you journey to the third chapter of this prophetic book you will find in the fourteenth verse how Ezekiel not only described the Spirit of the LORD lifting him up and taking him away, but also how he went away in bitterness and in the heat of his spirit. Moreover, Ezekiel would go on to write how the hand of the LORD was strong upon him—a reality which would be expressed later on in this chapter. In the twenty-second verse of this chapter you will find Ezekiel writing how the hand of the LORD was upon him, and how the LORD instructed him to go forth into the plain, and the LORD would take with him in that place. There in the plain the glory of the LORD stood before him—the same glory which he saw by the river of Chebar—and he fell on his face. What we find next is a common theme and occurrence within the prophetic book of Ezekiel—namely, that the Spirit of the LORD was directly and intimately involved in the life of Ezekiel. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this awesome and incredible reality, for it helps us to not only understand the work of the LORD within our hearts and lives, but it helps us understand the divine purpose of the Spirit within the life and ministry of Ezekiel. The more I read the narrative of Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi the more I can’t hep but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the word of the LORD and the Spirit of the LORD worked in joyful and beautiful harmony within his time walking before the LORD as prophet of the most High God. You cannot read the prophetic book of Ezekiel without coming face to face with the awesome truth that in order for Ezekiel to walk in that which the LORD instructed, called and commanded him to he needed the person and presence of the Holy Spirit moving him where he needed to go, as well as the word of the LORD speaking unto him. Ezekiel could never speak anything outside of and apart from the word of the LORD and that which the LORD had instructed and commanded him.

I sit here this afternoon and I find myself coming face to face with the dramatic question of what the conversation of the prophet truly did in fact look like. As you read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Ezekiel—and not just the prophetic book of Ezekiel, but also the various other prophetic books found within Scripture—you will find most of the speech which the prophets spoke being that which the LORD instructed and commanded them to speak. Aside from the various conversations which would happen with those who perhaps tried to raise themselves up against the prophets of the LORD. You get the strong sense within the prophetic narratives found in the Scripture that much of their speech—if not all of their speech—was governed exclusively and entirely governed by the word of the LORD and its presence within their lives. With this in mind I can’t help but wonder how many side conversations the prophets of the LORD actually had outside and apart from the word of the LORD. I can’t help but think about the fact that the prophets of the LORD might very well have given themselves entirely and altogether to the word of the LORD, and perhaps did not entertain a lord the conversations others within their generation engaged themselves in. The more I think about and consider this awesome reality, the more I come face to face with the truth that when the word of the LORD is present within our hearts and lives it dramatically and completely alters and shapes how we think and how we interact with others. I am absolutely convinced that the word of the LORD and its presence within our lives completely and utterly transforms our conversation and how we speak with others, and that the very presence of the word of the LORD dictates that which we speak and that which we speak and that which we cannot speak. What’s more, is that I would dare say that when the word of the LORD is present within our hearts and our lives it call us to a deeper place where our conversations are completely and altogether governed by the word of the LORD. No longer can we entertain earthly, natural and carnal conversations and dialogues of the world, and no longer can we entertain the pleasures and passions this world has to offer. How do you know the word of the LORD is present within your heart and life? I would dare say you will know the word of the LORD is present within your heart and life when your entire speech and conversation is dramatically altered, and where you cannot help but speak that which the LORD instructs and even permits you to speak.

“Then the Spirit entered into the, and set me upon my feet, and speak with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and a thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:24-27).

“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold, also the ships, which though they be so great, are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a vert small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. There with bless we God, even the Father; and there with curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries: either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the presence of the word of the LORD within the life of Ezekiel the priest, for not only would the presence of the word of the LORD determine that which Ezekiel must needs speak unto and among the house of Israel, but I would also dare say that the presence of the word of the LORD directly impacts, determines and controls that which we are unable to speak. I find it truly intriguing how the LORD would cause the tongue of Ezekiel to cleave to the roof of his mouth, and how he would make Ezekiel dumb when in the presence of the people of Israel. It’s almost as if the LORD did not want Ezekiel to say or speak anything that would be contrary to the word which was found present within his heart and life, and speak anything that was not authorized by the LORD. Oh how I find myself being absolutely and incredibly challenged by this awesome reality, for there is a great need for the presence of the word of the LORD within our lives as it completely alters and governs and shapes what we speak that is out of alignment with and somehow contradicts that which the LORD has instructed and commanded us to speak. Oh imagine what it would and could be like if you were only able to speak those words which the LORD had commanded and instructed you to speak. What would your life be like if you could not say anything vain or anything idle with your mouth, and only spoke that which the word of the LORD permitted and granted you to speak? What if your life was so absolutely and completely governed by the word of the LORD that your entire speech was altered, and men began wondering why you perhaps didn’t talk as much as you used to? What if you began weighing your words all the more carefully as you considered them in light of the word of the LORD which you were commanded and instructed to speak by the LORD? James writes how out of the same source there cannot come blessing and cursing, and this adds a whole different level of meaning when you think about our speech when the word of the LORD is present within our hearts and lives. I am absolutely convinced t hat when the word of the LORD is indeed present within our lives it must not only dictate and control that which we speak for and on behalf of the LORD, but it must also dictate and control that which we are unable and unauthorized to speak. Stop and think about what your life would be like if you were completely and utterly prohibited from uttering any unauthorized speech from your mouth, and were unable to say anything that was not authorized, commanded and permitted by the LORD. The word of the LORD within the heart and life of Ezekiel must be understood as a powerful filter through which and from which all the other words which he spoke would be filtered, as he could not speak anything that was out of alignment with that which he was commanded and instructed to speak.

There is a great and powerful need within our lives to not only be governed by the word of the LORD, but also the Spirit of the LORD as the word of the LORD determines that which we must speak and that which we are unauthorized to speak, and the Spirit of the LORD determines and controls where we go and where we are unable to go. What’s more, is that there is a strong and present need for the hand of the LORD to be present and manifested within our hearts and lives, as it is the hand of the LORD the essentially and effectively equips us for that which the living and eternal God has indeed called us to. When Ezekiel was called, chosen, ordained and appointed as a prophet of the LORD in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans there was the full manifestation of the hand of the LORD there upon him, the word of the LORD being present within his heart and soul, and the Spirit of the LORD which would enter into him, raise him up, and bring him to those places the LORD determined and purposed he would go. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read the prophetic book of Ezekiel and consider the fact that not only would the heavens be opened unto him, and not only would he see visions of God, but so also would Ezekiel experience the manifestation of the word of the LORD, the Spirit of the LORD and the hand of the LORD within and upon his life. Oh that we would truly read the prophetic book of Ezekiel and recognize the absolutely incredibly need for these three evidences and realities to be at work within our heart and life, for they help us walk in faithfulness and obedience to that which the living and eternal God has instructed and commanded us to speak on behalf of the LORD, and go where the LORD has instructed us to go. How truly absolutely powerful and awesome it is to think about and consider the fact that within the life of Ezekiel the priest who was raised up to be a prophet of the captivity and exile that the word of the LORD would be so wonderfully and powerfully present within his life, and a how the hand of the LORD would be upon him to raise him up and to strengthen him in the mist of that which he was called to do for and on behalf of the LORD. Oh that we would read these opening chapters of the prophetic book of Ezekiel and acknowledge the awesome and wonderful need within our hearts and lives for the presence of the word of the LORD as it not only controls and authorizes that which we are to speak, but also controls and prohibits that which we are unable to speak. Moreover, it is necessary that we be a people in whose lives the manifest presence of the Spirit is present as the Spirit moves us where we are to go according to the divine will and word of the LORD. Finally, it is is absolutely necessary that we are a people upon whom the hand of the LORD rests, and upon whom the hand of the LORD is present to uphold and strengthen us in the midst of that which we have been called and ordained to do.

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