Intro. Ezekiel was a prophet to the Jews who were in exile in Babylon. The Lord said in EZE 22:29
, that the reason they went into captivity was: "The people of the land had used oppression, they committed robbery, and took advantage of the poor and needy: they oppressed the stranger wrongfully. The Lord said: And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. God was looking for a man to stand against the tide of evil that was engulfing the nation and bringing it into captivity, a man that would be passionate for righteousness and against the sins of the people. He found none, thus He had to bring judgment upon the nation.
I. GOD IS A KIND, COMPASSIONATE, AND GRACIOUS GOD. HE IS SLOW TO ANGER AND PLENTEOUS IN MERCY.
A. Peter tells us that the reason that the Lord has not returned yet is that "God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
B. Again in Ezekiel 33:11
, God told Ezekiel, "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but I desire that the wicked would turn from his wickedness and live: turn, turn, from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?"
C. People often misinterpret the longsuffering of God as ignorance. They are somehow deceived into thinking that God does not know. In PSA 94:8
, the psalmist said: "Fools, when will you become wise? He that has taught knowledge does He not know? He who created the ears, do you think that He is deaf? Do you think that the one who created your eyes cannot see?" In Psalm 139
, David said, "O Lord, you have searched me and known me."
D. Some misinterpret the patience of God as weakness. They feel that God cannot or will not judge.
E. Some misinterpret the mercy of God as approval. Because God has not immediately judged them, they in twisted logic feel that it does not matter to God what they do, that He approves of their evil, because He has not smitten them.
1. Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 5:5, "Now know this, that no whoremonger, nor sexually impure person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, will have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the children of disobedience."
2. Ministers are often susceptible to this deception. I have heard them say, "If God is displeased with the things that I am doing, why does He still bless my ministry?" He is faithful to bless His word, but one day you will stand before Him to be judged. You will be saying, "Lord, Lord, did I not preach in Your name?" And He will answer, "I never knew you."
3. Paul wrote to the Romans 2:2
, "We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth upon them which commit such things. And do you think this, you who are guilty of judging a man for things that you are doing yourself that you shall escape the judgment of God? Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; Do you not know that the goodness of God is intended to lead you to repentance? Your hard and impenitent heart is storing up against you wrath. When the day of wrath comes and God reveals His righteous judgment He will render to every man according to his deeds: unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, they will face His indignation and wrath, there will be tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that is doing evil."
F. God has been merciful unto Israel, and in His mercy He has delivered them from their captivity. He has allowed them to return to their homeland, however, it did not take very long until they were back to their old sins, the very sins that had caused their fathers to go into captivity in the first place.
1. Ezra, a Godly man who has purposed in his heart to seek the Lord, has been commissioned by the king of Persia to return to Jerusalem and to offer sacrifices unto God, and to govern over the people.
2. Ezra with about two thousand others have finally arrived at Jerusalem after a five-month journey across the wilderness.
3. When he arrives, it is reported to him that the people have begun to intermarry with the people of the heathen nations around them, and to worship their pagan gods.
4. Ezra reacted to this report by tearing his clothes and mantle. He then pulled out his hair and beard, and sat down astonished for the whole day.
II. GOD IS LOOKING FOR MEN LIKE EZRA WHO WILL BE PASSIONATE AGAINST EVIL.
A. We are living in a day in which acceptance and toleration is the rule of the day.
1. People say that we should live and let live.
2. It is interesting to me that the most intolerant people in our society today are those who are advocating toleration.
3. They ask us to be tolerant of their chosen lifestyles.
4. If you dare to classify it as sin, then they will denounce you as a radical fundamentalist, a bigot, a hatemonger, and try to get laws passed that will silence you from condemning their activities.
B. Through the media we have been slowly inoculated against any reaction to evil.
1. We have become very lenient toward evil.
2. We have been brainwashed to accept all kinds of evil.
3. Brainwashing is a process where you say or do shocking things before a person until they are no longer shocked. When you get to a place where you can hear all kinds of foul language in a movie and not walk out, it is a sign that you have been brainwashed. You can probably remember the first time you heard such language in a movie, I dare say that many of you did get up and walk out in disgust.
C. God's man is a man who is shocked by the evil actions of others and will passionately react against it.
D. I noticed on TV how passionate people were when the Angels won the divisional championship. The whole news media seemed to commend them for their great zeal and enthusiasm, what great fans they are. Imagine what the media would say if we were equally enthused about the victory that we have through Jesus Christ. You would no doubt hear comments like shameful fanaticism, extremist, radicals. I would say that we have more to rejoice and shout about than any Angel fan.
III. NEXT WE SEE GOD'S MAN EZRA DESPERATE IN PRAYER OVER THE SIN OF THE PEOPLE.
A. One of the greatest problems of our day is that we are living in very desperate times, but the people of God are not desperate in prayer.
1. Ezra knew that the way the people were living was certain to bring the judgment of God upon the land.
2. Surely the way America has turned its back on God, and the way people are living, is certain to bring God's judgment upon America.
3. You would think that the churches would be packed with believers calling upon God for mercy and calling the people to repentance.
4. But it is hard to get people away from their televisions on Sunday night to get them out to church.
5. Jesus warned of the days that would precede His coming in Luke 21
, He said: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day finds you unprepared. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
6. Talking of the various types of soil upon which the seed of the word falls, He spoke about the seed that fell among the thorns, and he described the thorns as follows: MAT 13:22
, "He that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful."
a. Would you say that describes you?
b. Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord?
B. Thoughts to ponder.
1. What kind of Christian are you?
a. Fervent, passionate?
b. Lukewarm? Sort of take it or leave it?
2. Do you hope to go to heaven when you die?
a. What kind of provisions are you making to assure that you will?
b. God gave His all for you; are you giving your all for Him?