Ezekiel 3:7 “But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.”
Once again we have something with a strong echo in the NT. Jesus told His disciples essentially the same thing in John 15:18-21. The point is, people respond to God’s messengers the same way they respond to God, whether they want to admit it or not. Someone whose heart is tender toward God is not going to reject His messengers, but that’s not the same as being gullible, because Jesus also said that many would claim His Name who had nothing to do with Him, (Matthew 7:21-23) and He told us to evaluate people by their fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20) However, God’s statement here to Ezekiel is to encourage him in the face of the opposition he will encounter, and every true servant of God should take it to heart. We are all human, and we like other people to like us, so it hurts when they reject us or the words we speak to them. God is telling us here that, to the degree we are being faithful to communicate what He is saying, if people reject our words they aren’t rejecting us, but Him. That’s not to be a point of perverse pride, delighting in rejection, but it is to be a comfort to all who seek to serve God.
I’ve certainly experienced this, but there have also been times when I have let myself get in the way of what God was saying, and I’m not to put people down for negative reactions in such cases. I’ve recently been told that the majority of my interpersonal problems come from my being misunderstood. That actually was a comfort to me. My Japanese feels very natural to me, and my accent is largely indistinguishable, but there are nuances that I miss, because of having been brought up in an English-speaking home and attending only English-speaking schools. However, another part of the problem is that I say things that seem un-Japanese that are therefore rejected, even though they are Biblical. The biggest example of that is the whole matter of forgiveness. Because the word and Chinese character that indicate Biblical forgiveness sounds the same as the word, and different character, that indicates permission, Japanese have enormous difficulty wrapping their minds around the idea of forgiving something you can’t permit. Since repentance and forgiveness are at the very core of the Gospel, that is a huge barrier to the spread of authentic Christianity in this nation. I am not to be discouraged by that, and I am not to take rejection of my words personally, but be patiently persistent in speaking the truth in love, asking and trusting the Holy Spirit to work God’s truth into people’s hearts.
Father, thank You for the words You gave Cathy this past week to write as a “prayer of release of past hurts.” Thank You for Your guidance in the process of translating that into terms the Japanese can understand, even though the very idea of releasing past hurts seems strange in this culture. I pray that as I share that, in this morning’s service and in the days, weeks, and years to come, that it would be powerfully useful to Your Spirit in opening people’s eyes and hearts to Your grace and love, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!