A computer can be programmed to respond at your command. And by conditioning a dog with rewards and punishments, you can teach it to obey. But as every parent knows, children are not so easily taught. People have wills and must choose to submit, to follow the instructions of those who have authority over them. Surely discipline is part of the process—boys and girls should know that they will reap the consequences of disobedience.
God’s children must learn to obey their heavenly Father. Created in his mage, they have a choice, and God allows them to choose.
Ezekiel was a man who chose to obey God. Although he was a priest (1:3), he served as a Jewish “street preacher” in Babylon for 22 years, telling everyone about God’s judgment and salvation, and calling them to repent and obey. And Ezekiel lived what he preached. During his ministry God told him to illustrate his messages with dramatic object lessons. Some of these acts included (1) lying on his side for 390 days during which he could eat only one eight-ounce meal a day cooked over manure, (2) shaving his head and beard, and (3) showing no sorrow when his wife died. He obeyed and faithfully proclaimed God’s word.
God may not ask you to do anything quite so dramatic or difficult; but if he did, would you do it?
The book of Ezekiel chronicles the prophet’s life and ministry. Beginning with his call as a prophet and commissioning as a “watchman for Israel” (chapters 1–3), Ezekiel immediately began to preach and demonstrate God’s truth, as he predicted the approaching siege and destruction of Jerusalem (chapters 4–24). This devastation would be God’s judgment for the people’s idolatry. Ezekiel challenged them to turn from their wicked ways. In the next section, he spoke to the surrounding nations, prophesyng that God would judge them for their sins as well (chapters 25–32). The book concludes with a message of hope, as Ezekiel proclaimed the faithfulness of God and foretold the future blessings for God’s people (chapters 33–48).
As you read this exciting record, observe how Ezekiel fearlessly preached the word of God to the exiled Jews in the streets of Babylon, and hear the timeless truth of God’s love and power. Think about each person’s responsibility to trust God and about the inevitability of God’s judgment against idolatry, rebellion, and indifference. Then commit yourself to obey God, whatever, wherever, and whenever he asks.
Life Application Bible Notes (Tyndale, 2007), 1306.