We are reading Billy Graham’s “Hope for Each Day” as our daily devotional, and today’s verse was quoted as:
“They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. –
Ezekiel 12:2 NIV”
And this opened a wonderful discussion between my wife and I about spiritual seeing and hearing versus physical and the hand of God on our lives, etc.
It reminded us also of:
“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. – 2 Corinthians 3:14”
“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. – John 14:17”
It reminded me of that time in my life when I could not hear His voice – or truth be told, I want interested in listening to His voice, so I did not hear it. It reminded me of that time in my life when I could not discern the spiritual influences affecting my life and the lives of those around me. And I sharpen my sight and hearing so that I can be a good Berean and examine myself and test all spirits against the truth of the Word of God. And as a result of this sharpening, the difference between darkness and light becomes so much more evident. The underlying desires that drive myself and that drive others becomes more evident in the words and actions that either testify for our against us.
And after we wrapped up our family devotional, and after I wrapped up my prayer devotional from Reinder’s “Seeking His Face” prayer devotional, I thought, this is such a good verse, let me see where it is rooted, let me examine deeper. I wanted to gain more understanding of the context and background of such a wonderful piece of scripture that made us excited about praising Him and trusting Him and expecting continued growth and commitment to Him in our lives because of the evidence of His healing touch on our lives as He reveals more of Himself to us.
And I opened up Ezekiel in ESV and found:
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.”
Ezekiel 12:2 ESV
And at that moment, I read it and asked myself – “Is this even the same verse that we read?” Because it spoke in such a different type of revelation, not just about me, not just about my family’s growth and our being drawn closer to the Lord – but it spoke of the darkness surrounding us. And I became even more hungry to understand what this part of the book of Ezekiel was sharing, so I read on:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile, and you shall go out yourself at evening in their sight, as those do who must go into exile. In their sight dig through the wall, and bring your baggage out through it. In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder and carry it out at dusk. You shall cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.” And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands. I brought out my baggage at dusk, carrying it on my shoulder in their sight.
Ezekiel 12:1-7 ESV
And I began to understand the importance of accepting that we are dwelling amongst darkness, amongst many who are blind and deaf to the Word of God, who do not have the spiritual eyes or ears to hear His voice because they do not love Him. They do not seek His desires, but I trapped by things of this world and the honor of men. They do not truly want to be freed, they are not ready to be awakened to a life of costly discipleship because it sounds burdensome and they do not believe that the prize is worth a cost – especially if they can get it for free.
And don’t misunderstand me, I do not begrudge anyone who is satisfied with the free gift of grace. I do not begrudge anyone that would hope to barely make it into the gates of heaven, because that is exactly my attitude and perspective. I would love to sit at His feet praising Him eternally and never leaving His presence, but I’ll have more than I deserve as long as I at least get to be there. I’ll long for the seat at His feet, kissing His feet and washing them with my tears – but just give me a seat at the table, Oh Lord. That seat that is wholly undeserved by the evidence of my life that comes so short of bringing you honor and glory, Lord – please just save a seat at the table for your servant. I trust in your grace and mercy. I trust that you know my heart and that I am not deceived by the tricks of my own flesh and that enemy of your love.
And it encouraged me that this man of God obeyed as God commanded. It encouraged me that He obeyed openly and transparently, not hiding from the call, and obeying God explicitly, even to the point of covering His face and focusing on his faithfulness, not what God was going to do to this land and people. God had not called him in this instance to be an overseer or a watchman for these rebellious people headed for destruction, he called him to be an example.
So I still wanted to understand more, so I read on.
In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God : This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.’ Say, ‘I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them. They shall go into exile, into captivity.’ And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder at dusk, and shall go out. They shall dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the Lord , when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the Lord .”
Ezekiel 12:8-16 ESV
And this warning of the coming destruction, of the coming wrath, of the coming judgement upon these rebellious people who would rather hide their sin like the prince covering his face in shame as he hoped to escape the net of the consequences for his rebellion.
And I understand the shift of perspective. Those in rebellion want to hide their sins from the light because that is what their heart truly desires and they may even be shamed by their rebellion, but they are not interested in turning to God and obeying him both in the light of day when me can see AND when others cannot see unless they really examine closely. I know this because I am familiar with those broad paths that I used to walk.
When we are blind to the truth, we want to enjoy the appearance and reputation and benefits of our titles and positions more than we are interested in fulfilling the responsibilities given us. How many times have I, myself, sought a better job or position or title, focused on the perception of authority, when it was really a commitment to greater responsibilities.
And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink water with trembling and with anxiety. And say to the people of the land, Thus says the Lord God concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink water in dismay. In this way her land will be stripped of all it contains, on account of the violence of all those who dwell in it. And the inhabited cities shall be laid waste, and the land shall become a desolation; and you shall know that I am the Lord .”
Ezekiel 12:17-20 ESV
And yes, this is a fearful judgement upon the rebellious. Especially when we know that we were once a party to the ways of darkness and that it is only by the grace of God that we were called out into the light. It is only by the power of His Holy Spirit that we now have eyes to see and ears to hear the judgement and destruction of those we once considered friends, neighbors, and family. And this isn’t something that we take joy in, just like the Lord does not delight in the destruction of the wicked. He would rather they believe, lay down their sin, repent, and come to Him so that He can breath life into their dead bones.
And our natural question then becomes, when will this come? Am I safe enough to play in the mud with the pigs for a while longer before I decide to turn back and return to my Father’s house? Is it far away? Or is it near?
“Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God : I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord ; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord God .” “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God : None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord God .”
Ezekiel 12:22-25, 27-28 ESV
So I believe that it is important that we ask ourselves –
Am I the one called to come out of the darkness of the rebellious ways of the world around me, to see and hear and obey?
Am I unashamedly and whether visible or unseen by the eyes of men obeying the will of God with the example that my life before the eyes of an all seeing, all knowing God?
Or will I be found cowering in shame, hoping to escape the net of his just and righteous judgement when the day comes?
It reminds me of the warnings of Jeremiah before the disaster of Lamentations:
“How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations! The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves. Her cities have become a horror, a land of drought and a desert, a land in which no one dwells, and through which no son of man passes. And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed. The nations shall no longer flow to him; the wall of Babylon has fallen. “Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every one save his life from the fierce anger of the Lord ! Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful at the report heard in the land, when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, and ruler is against ruler. “Therefore, behold, the days are coming when I will punish the images of Babylon; her whole land shall be put to shame, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, shall sing for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north, declares the Lord . Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth. “You who have escaped from the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the Lord from far away, and let Jerusalem come into your mind: ‘We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach; dishonor has covered our face, for foreigners have come into the holy places of the Lord ’s house.’ “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord , when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify her strong height, yet destroyers would come from me against her, declares the Lord . “A voice! A cry from Babylon! The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans! For the Lord is laying Babylon waste and stilling her mighty voice. Their waves roar like many waters; the noise of their voice is raised, for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken; their bows are broken in pieces, for the Lord is a God of recompense; he will surely repay. I will make drunk her officials and her wise men, her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”
Jeremiah 51:41-58 ESV
And that is about history, about an example, about a shadow of what is yet to come. Revelation males it clear what lies ahead.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!” The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”
Revelation 18:4-20 ESV