Yesterday we started reading the intriguing prophecy of Ezekiel. He is in Babylon with those taken captive before Jerusalem fell, along with King Jehoiachin. This is in 2 Kings 24:12-15. It is in “the fifth year of the exile” (Ezekiel 1:2,3) that “the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel … and the hand of the LORD was upon him there”. Maybe he was sent by God to join the exiles. Ezekiel has many varied prophecies and visions climaxing with a vision of a wondrous temple that will come into being in the future. In today’s chapter he is told to preach to the exiles, and their attitude to his message has a number of comparisons with attitudes today. He is told, “I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels who have rebelled against me” (verse 3). He is told, “The descendants also are impudent and stubborn … And whether they hear or refuse to hear … they will know that a prophet has been among them … Be not afraid of them … nor be dismayed at their looks …” (verses 4-6).

Today there is an inclination to give up on efforts to witness about the word of God. But the final “ingathering” (Matthew 22:9,10) must be completed and “the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:27). The majority we preach to “refuse to hear” – but we recall the parable of Jesus about the final ingathering before his return when the “master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people …’” (Luke 14:23) and these words, we feel, have an application today. Let us renew our efforts in the area in which we live.

So let us take the lesson of God’s instructions to Ezekiel to heart in whatever situation we are in and make known God’s word in these last days so that “whether they hear or refuse to hear” – we are still carrying out our responsibility before God. This is an essential part of our sowing. Paul says “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). So, while Paul is not applying this primarily to preaching, let us take opportunities to sow the word of God in the ears of the those with whom we have contact so that “they will know that a prophet has been among them” and we show we are heeding Paul’s words to “abound in every good work” (verse 8).