July 11, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
2:1 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
3:1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.
The President of Haiti was assassinated on Wednesday. Not all the details have come out about the assassination, but what is clear is that there is a rebellious group who did not agree with the current leadership. Rebellion exists in every country. It does not always reach the point of taking life, but there are always those who listen to those in power and those who rebel. Rebellion exists on large scales, but it even exists in our own homes. For example, children rebel against their parents by refusing to eat their vegetables and throwing them across the room.
Two different views of reality often cause rebellion. I came across an article by an American writer named Kurt Vonnegut that retold an experience he had as a teenager. He was working on an archeological dig making small talk with one of the archeologists who was asking him all the ‘getting to know you’ questions, like “Do you play any sports?” Instead of sports, Vonnegut listed off his involvement in theater, choir and playing the violin and piano. The archeologist was impressed, but then Vonnegut followed up by saying that he was not good at any of them. To this the archeologist responded that he did not think being good at something was the point of doing them, but the different experiences were what makes a person interesting. Vonnegut went on to say that the comment changed his view of life from an achievement-oriented view of life and doing things, to doing things because he enjoyed them. Vonnegut lived as a rebel because his view of reality changed.
When Jesus went to his hometown to teach, he encountered two different views of reality. In Mark 6, we read, 2 “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.” The people of Jesus’ hometown could not believe his depth of knowledge, his wisdom and his miracles because they still looked at him only as the carpenter whose mother was Mary and whose brothers and sisters were there, so 3 … “they took offense at him.” And, 4 “Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” The people in Jesus’ hometown completely missed who he was. They looked at Jesus with proud, rebellious eyes offended at his teachings, miracles and call to repentance. Their view of reality did not have room for someone who looked just like them to be their Savior.
Ezekiel was called by God as a prophet to the same kind of rebellious people. Ezekiel served as a prophet when Israel was in exile in Babylon. There were two parts to his ministry. First, there was a warning against rebellion against God and a call to repent to God for their rebellion. Second, after Israel did not listen and God allowed their capital city of Jerusalem to fall and God’s temple to be destroyed, there was a message of deliverance for Israel and destruction for the nation’s that had attacked Israel. As Ezekiel was being commissioned by God to serve as his prophet, he received this vision from God recorded in Ezekiel 2, 9 “Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.” The scroll God gave to Ezekiel was God’s message for Israel. God’s message had difficult words for the people to hear because it brought to light their rebellion against God. As with the people in Jesus’ hometown, the people of Israel did not want to hear a man who was one of them bringing them God’s Word which called them out for their rebellion. And the same is true for you and me.
True rebels really do not want to be known as rebels. True rebels look at themselves as the ones on the site of truth and those they oppose as the ones stuck in a wrong view of reality. That is our problem. We believe we are right and no one else has a right to call us out on being wrong. We believe we are right even when someone uses God’s Word to call us out for doing wrong. You get caught in your own view of reality, which is your natural sinful state, rebellious against God. You get caught not wanting to hear that you put too much priority on making money and being liked, that your way of loading the dishwasher or making the bed, your way of parenting or your political views might go against showing love for your spouse, friend, neighbor and God as God defines love, not as you do.
Or you may rollover every time you are convicted of rebellion and sin toward God, but in your humility, you have grown shy and cowardly, so that you do not show others their rebellion. The same rebellious heart that lives in you, lives in all people, so that when you confront others as one sinful human to another, they reject you like Jesus was rejected. Even if you are rejected, God wants you to keep sharing his Word. He encouraged Ezekiel regarding rejection in Ezekiel 2, 6 “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” Whether it is your stubborn, rebellious heart or another person’s, God’s desire is for his message to reach their ears because he does not treat rebellion how we expect.
We would expect God to fight against us for our rebellion, but he does not. Instead, God fights for us. The ugliness of your rebellion that God’s Word confronts you with, is followed up by God’s forgiveness. The scroll that pictured the message Ezekiel was to bring to the people had 10 … “words of lament and mourning and woe.” But, God told Ezekiel, 3:1 … “‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” The scroll turned sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth. Though God confronts each of you with the ugliness of your rebellious sin, he does so to show you your need to be saved. God’s message for Israel through Ezekiel was that even living in exile away from their homeland, God was still their God. God’s message for you living in the sinful world waiting to be taken to heaven, is that he is your Lord. Your loyalty is to him for all he has done for you.
God saved you from your rebellion against him. God told Ezekiel, 8 “But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” The message God gave Ezekiel was for the people, and also for him. God did not want to lose Ezekiel to rebellion but wanted to fill him with all the good things he promises his people. God wants the same for you. He does not want you to rebel but wants to feed your soul with his good promises. These are some of the good promises God has made to you:
When you were held captive by sin, he paid the ransom price to set you free.
When your death was demanded as punishment for your rebellion, Jesus redeemed you with his own blood.
When God was so angry with you, Jesus faced all of God’s wrath, so that he has no reason to be angry with you anymore.
When you stood before God the Judge filled with fear because you knew the verdict should be sinner sentenced to hell, Jesus gave you his sinless, holy, righteous life so that God has declared you not guilty.
When you were part of the rebellious world, the Holy Spirit sanctified you by setting you apart to be a citizen of God’s kingdom, to serve his purpose and will, and do good works.
When your sins cling to you like Texas mud and you never feel clean or good enough, God has promised you are washed clean of all your sins through your baptism and clothed with the white, clean righteousness of Jesus.
When you feel all alone, abandoned, like no one understands you or sees any value to your life, Jesus calls you, his friend.
When your own family gives up on you, Jesus calls you his brother or sister.
When sickness and death come with overwhelming fear and power, Jesus saved you through his resurrection and guarantee of eternal life.
When you feel the need to give back to God to make up for the wrongs you have done or else there will be something he can hold against you, he has forgiven you meaning he has given up the right to hold anything against you because he held it against Jesus, so you are not worried about being good enough for heaven. You are good enough for heaven through Jesus.
When the devil accuses you of being on his side as an enemy of God, God made peace with you and brought harmony by sending his Spirit into your heart through the gift of faith, so that your heart loves, trusts and does want to please God and thank him for his goodness.
When you were born to sinful parents, God caused you to be reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When you are stubborn, God still loves you.
When you walk in darkness, he shines his light on you and into your heart.
God wants you to hear his many promises so often so that they remain part of you. In chapter three of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul gave Timothy the encouragement to remain in the truth of Scripture. The words Paul wrote are the encouragement we all need to hear, 14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” All of God’s Word is meant for you so that you remain confident in all Jesus has done to save you from your rebellion and sin, to make you his own and give you eternal life in heaven.
Rebellion is all around us in our country, in kids throwing their vegetables on the floor and in the world as we hear of assassinations of leaders. The amazing message of Scripture is that the ruler you and I rebel against gave his life to save us. Ezekiel was called to give Israel a reality check as they lived in the consequences of the rebellion. The reality check was to stop rebelling and repent, trusting in God’s deliverance. You are a rebel who God saved from lying on the ground in terror of punishment for your sins against him. You were lifted up by God, your mouth was opened and you were fed sweet words of forgiveness. You are free from the achievement-oriented world seeking to be good enough and better than others to win God’s favor. You are good because of Jesus. You are free to enjoy your time in this world as you take in the good promises of God’s Word. Eat what the Lord gives you! And enjoy sharing his food with others even if they throw it on the floor because what he gives you is good, Jesus. Amen.