Ezekiel 33 is a challenging chapter. We learn that the prophet has been in captivity with other Jews for twelve years and ten months when their hopes are finally extinguished. News comes from “a fugitive from Jerusalem (who) came and said, ‘The city has been struck down’” (verse 21).

God then informs Ezekiel of the people’s reaction to the message He has been giving them, “… your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it” (verses 30-32).

Clearly the Lord knew all their hearts, as He knows ours. Are our “hearts set” more on this world and the “gain” we can get? It does not necessarily mean money! But we must each examine our hearts, asking what are the things that fill our time, what things mainly occupy our minds? How much do we think on the words of the Lord, “do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33). What wondrous things will be added in the kingdom!

Is there any point in witnessing today? Ezekiel may have thought that! After being told by the Lord, “I will make … her proud might … come to an end” the Lord then makes a significant point to him, “Then they will know that a prophet has been among them” (verse 28,33). What will they know of you and me? A significant point to bear in mind are the powerful words of Paul we read today as he brought his letter to the Ephesians to a climax, “… take up the whole armour of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm … praying at all times” (6:13). Let us read and hear what God’s word reveals – with our hearts absorbing its message so that we gain essential strength and so “stand firm” in these final days.