Hard Lessons

Read: Ezekiel 4:1-13

Text: Prov 3:5-6 (KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Theme: The child of God should be receptive and obedient to God's message, whether we understand it or not.


Introduction:

The message to us from this text is varied:

One message is the fact that sin has its consequences. This is vibrantly painted in this passage.

Another message is the sureness of God's judgement. It will come. You can take it to the bank.

However, let us concentrate today on the truth that the child of God should be receptive and obedient to God's message, whether we understand it or not.


I. The Lesson For Israel (The Interpretation)

A. Jerusalem with be besieged. (vss. 1-3)
QUESTION - What method did God use, and instruct Ezekiel to use, in proclaiming this message?

QUESTION - What is significance of the iron pan?

B. The siege will be impenetrable. (vs. 3 - iron pan)
(Interpretation # 1)
C. God will no longer hear. (vs. 3 - iron pan)
(Interpretation # 2)
D. The captivity is punishment for sin. (vss. 4-8)
QUESTION - What is meant by the 390 / 40 days / years?

ANSWER - Regardless of the arithmetic, and the meaning of the numbers, which are a mystery to most scholars, the point is that the punishment was equal to the sin.

E. The captivity will be harsh. (vss. 8-13)
QUESTION - What illustrations did God give here that would have conveyed this message?

II. The Lesson For Us (The Application)

A. God often uses visual aids to teach us. (4:1-3)
1. We learn better when truth is illustrated.

QUOTE - John Marine, "Illustrations are the window to the soul."

QUOTE - William A. Ward, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

2. God had often illustrated truth in His teaching.

QUESTION - What are some examples?

ANSWER (For each of these, ask and briefly discuss, what is the message that the illustrations conveys?)- The tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden, the pillar of flame/cloud, the manna in the wilderness, the thunder and smoke on Mt. Sinai, the flame falling from heaven on Mt. Carmel, the tabernacle and its design.

3. Jesus, the master teacher, did this.

QUESTION - What are some examples?

ANSWER (Same question as above) - Coin (render unto Caesar), the little child in the midst (who is greatest?), the sower who went out to sow...

4. We should look for God's lessons in our experiences.

5. We should apply this principle when teaching others.

B. God may tell us to do something that seems foolish to us. (4:4-8)
QUESTION - Why is Prov. 3-5-6 in the Bible?

1. God's ways are not our ways.

QUESTION - How do you think Ezekiel felt when God asked him to do these things?

QUESTION - Does God sometimes lead us to do things that appear foolish to us? Examples?

QUESTION - How do people respond to Christians who are willing to appear foolish if necessary in order to follow the Lord?

QUESTION - How do you think the people reacted when they saw Ezekiel lying on his side day after day?

QUESTION - Was their a danger that they would totally discount Ezekiel's message by thinking he was unbalanced or irrational?

QUOTE - "We may not always be able to trace God, but we can always trust him."

2. God's ways are ALWAYS best though.

NOTE - That Ezekiel obeyed, in spite of possible misgivings.

QUESTION - Have you had experiences where God's ways seemed foolish at first, but eventually proved best?

C. God may tell us to do something that seems uncomfortable. (4:9-13)
1. It was hard for Ezekiel to give a message of such despair and judgement.

ILLUS. Others were called to preach messages with little joy - Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, Jesus Christ weeping over Jerusalem

NOTE - We must not flinch at the negative aspects of God's message. We must faithfully proclaim it all, even though it is not fashionable in our day and age.

QUESTION - What is our message? Does it include a negative aspect that is difficult or uncomfortable for us to talk about? (READ 1 Cor. 15:1f, esp. vs. 3)

2. The message required personal sacrifice and discomfort.

QUESTION - Does God ask us to make personal sacrifice(s) in order to proclaim His message?

3. The message required unusual (even distasteful) methods.


Conclusion:

There are a couple of possible conclusions from our lesson today, but let's concentrate on this one: The child of God should be receptive and obedient to God's message, whether we understand it or not.

So we are commanded!

Psa 37:5 (KJV) Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psa 118:8 (KJV) It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Prov 3:5 (KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Isa 26:4 (KJV) Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Isa 50:10 (KJV) Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.

Ezekiel was obedient and faithful in spite of his confusion and misgivings about what God asked of him!

So we receive great promises!

Psa 31:19 (KJV) Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Psa 32:10 (KJV) Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Psa 34:22 (KJV) The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Psa 125:1 (KJV) A Song of degrees. They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Prov 29:25 (KJV) The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Isa 26:3 (KJV) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

So, we are more effective witnesses!

Others will see our faithfulness, and that illustration will add impact to our message.

"Trusting Jesus everyday,

Trusting Him along the way.

Even when our faith is small,

Trusting Jesus, that is all."


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1996 William E. Johnson.