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.”
It’s hardly very encouraging for God to tell Ezekiel this right at the beginning of his ministry! However, at the very least he didn’t have any false expectations. The thing is, every person who speaks God’s words runs into this same phenomenon. Jesus spoke of it to His disciples. (John 15:18-21) In interactions between nations we see this sort of thing all the time, with ambassadors and other representatives being received in accordance with how the countries themselves are getting along. If a person’s heart is open to God, they will receive His words through whoever speaks them. If their heart is closed, then those same words will be rejected regardless of who speaks them. Everyone should be careful to speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) and to do it with sensitivity to circumstances, but how it is received is the responsibility of the hearer. Presentation makes a difference, certainly, but the big point is heart attitude. That’s why Jesus spoke so many times about “ears to hear.” (Matthew 11:15 and many more) Those charged with delivering God’s Word, like Ezekiel, are to pray for their hearers but not be bound by them. Not being received doesn’t necessarily mean the messenger is at fault.
This is something I’ve had to remind myself of many times as I have ministered in Japan. A major problem here is that people in general have no cultural background to understand a singular, personal God who loves them. I’ve got to do a lot of “soil preparation” before the seed I plant has much hope of sprouting, much less being fully fruitful. Sometimes that soil can seem very hard indeed! However, as this church’s Verse for the Year reminds us, nothing is too difficult for our God. (Jeremiah 32:27) I am not to give up or rebel when my words seem to fall on deaf ears, but rather remember Ezekiel and allow my life to be a proclamation of God’s love for the Japanese people. He has given fruit, and He will give more. I am not to be anxious about anything, but simply faithful, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in my Lord, just as He has told me to do.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that is going on, both that I can see and that I cannot see. Help me fully trust You with it all, whatever it looks like to my natural eyes. May I be a consistent, effective conduit of Your grace and love, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!