Ezekiel has a challenging time being a prophet of the Lord. The reaction to his message has lessons for us today. He is told by the Lord, “As for you … 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 …” (Ezekiel 33:30,31).

Do we read the Bible? Do we like doing so? Do we like talking about it? Do we like hearing God’s word explained? What effect does all this have? It must have an influence on the way we think and the way we live – we must not be like those who heard Ezekiel. God is aware of the answers to these questions: “Behold you are to them like one who sings lustful songs (or ‘very lovely songs’) with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument for they hear what you say …” (verse 32).

Can it be that reading God’s word and listening to others talk about it makes us feel respectable and good? Remember what Jesus said, “… my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). We show we hear by what we do as a result. But of those who heard Ezekiel, God says, “they hear what you say but they will not do it; for … their heart is set on gain” – so very many are swept along by what is valued in this life.

God commissioned Ezekiel and we have the same commission. “I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me” (verse 7). There was plenty for Ezekiel to warn them about. Note verse 11, God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked”. But history testifies how often God has, in the end, destroyed the godless. God’s judgements finally came on Israel – and they will do so on the Gentiles.

The final words in the chapter are, “When this comes – then they will know that a prophet has been among them”. All around us people are turning away from God, many are not even sure He exists; some declare they are certain that He doesn’t! But we all need to be aware of God’s warnings! True believers should sense they are following in Ezekiel’s footsteps. Are you playing well on your instrument? The reaction of the hearers is not primarily your responsibility!