Yesterday we started reading Ezekiel. He was a priest (1:3) taken into captivity by the Babylonians and placed by the Chebar canal. Jerusalem and its temple have not yet been destroyed (that is still 18 years away) and those in captivity set their hopes on returning home.

Ezekiel’ s commission was to “the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them” (2:3-5).

These captives had no sense of being in awe of the LORD. God’s message through Ezekiel is the very opposite of what might be regarded as a good message and was ignored. The gospel message today is not regarded as good news and is largell ignored by those who are “hardened in their sin”. But we have a responsibility to give the message so that “they will know” what God’s word plainly predicts.

The LORD addresses Ezekiel personally. “Be not afraid of their words, be not dismayed … for they are rebellious … but you … Be not rebellious …. open your mouth …” (verses 6,8). He is given a scroll with “words of lamentation and mourning and woe” (verse 10). Ezekiel’s message was very similar to Jeremiah’s. Both were giving God’s message at the same time, but in different locations.

We must not be rebellious. May what happened in Corinth be true of us. Paul rejoiced at their renewed spirit and that they “excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness …” (2 Corinthians 8:7). The believers there were showing their love for their Lord and for Paul by the ready financial support for those in trouble. They “gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints” (verses 3,4). May we be so motivated to give from what we are blessed to possess in serving the Lord.