‘For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Ro.11: 29).’ Merely because Abraham’s descendants rebelled against him God did not forget his promise to Abraham; neither did he cast them away. ‘And God heard their (Children of Israel) groaning, and God heard his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob (Ex.2: 23-25).’
God chose Moses while he was tending flock in the land of Midian. The burning bush that did not consume itself was a sign. I shall comeback to it in another post but at present my task is to reveal the manner God chooses man for furthering divine Plan. That bush -probably acacia, made Moses ‘turn aside to see.’ It was God’s choice and he had sought him out there while he was tending the sheep of his father in law. You can imagine his state of mind in calling his first born as Gershon. He was a desperate man knowing only too well his life was wasted. The first forty years his education was the best any one could have wished for. He acquired but it was all being turned to dust. His diffidence and slow speech would have been slow erosion of his confidence in his flesh because of one false step. Forty years dying of wasted talents: but man’s extremities are the means of God to lift him to the blessed state. Only that he needs the Lord God to do it. It was what Moses required. Unknown to him God had watched over him while his people were groaning under the harsh Egypt taskmasters.
God informs Moses who he was. I AM THAT I AM (Ex.3:14). God meant the wondrous sight of a burning bush to be a blessing and not do any harm. In that encounter and in the ensuing commission God patiently overcomes every excuse that Moses could cite and sends him along to Egypt. Moses is a sign for us.
In the case of Jeremiah also we see God bucks him up for the mission.
God touched his mouth. “Behold I have put my words in thy mouth.” Besides he tests him with an example. “Jeremiah, what seest thou?” In setting forth the vision correctly God convinced him that he was ready to be his prophet.
God entrusts man with a mission and he expects him to discharge it fully. The case of Jonah comes to mind and God did not allow his fear get the better of him. At the end of it God even teaches him a much-needed lesson in implicit obedience. After his apparent triumph God raised a vehement east wind in order to show how insignificant are human defences against him. Jonah’s humanity only was so much to moan over a gourd and not for the fate of a great city like Nineveh. All our anxieties and earthly pursuits without God descend into ludicrous level. God had not abandoned the prophet despite his pusillanimous and half-hearted approach to his ministry. He was also given a chance to further his Plan.
Burden of whoever is raised up for ministering his Word is not in circumstances but in fully trusting in the Lord God. He is the Maker of heaven and the earth. Circumstance for the people of Israel and for his church in present times shall remain always like the waters always turbulent, because of their disobedience and in their attempts to impose their own will than let God have his will. Remember the sin of Lot. The angels would want him abide in a safe place of God’s choosing while God exacted his vengeance. Escaping the raining brimstone and fire was not a cause for rejoicing since sin of disobedience has a way of catching up with children of wrath. In our times we see how nations that ought to dispense justice short-change people on account of their color or wealth. We are clever to coin words ‘affluenza’ to soft pedal where spoilt kids from affluent backgrounds may escape punishment on account of their wealth. When evangelicals fall over politicians who have power to confer them favours we need to look for that hand to write on the wall, just as God judged King Balshaazzar. (Lately I came across one post where the writer was at pains to indicate Cyrus the great in the prophetic books refers to the President- elect. )
In the case of Prophet Ezekiel he was to be a watchman for the house of Israel in their pitiable state. This vision by the river Chebar was a private commission. Burden of Ezekiel was that he could not excuse from discharging by saying that there were great many and far greater prophets about. Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries. On the second year of Darius the king God sent the word. At surface it touched upon the building of the temple in Jerusalem but each prophet had a clear mandate and these were different. in the eight visions he showed to Zachariah God predicts the ‘cutting of the Messiah’ and of the end times.
It was thus with Prophet Ezekiel. He may be privy to the fate of world empires, their rise and fall, which however was not his concern. World empires shall take their centre stage and also exit ad infinitum till the ‘stone cut without hands’ shall smash and scatter them to nothing in the fullness of times. He was to be a watchman and most important still, he was to be a sign unto his people. ‘For they are a rebellious people.’
God does not mince his words but tells the prophet nevertheless what must be said however unpleasant prospect the task may hold out to him. The reason is simple: he has to be guiltless for ‘..If thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness , nor from his ways ,he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul(Ez.3:19). Here we have the burden of the prophet in a nutshell. He has to discharge his task as a good and profitable servant so might deliver his soul from damnation.
Here is a quote’Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign’ (Ez.24: 24). Much more so, when God revealed himself to him and gave him a mission, he was to be a watchman unto his people. As a watchman he was between God and the exiled nation. Despite of his personal loss he was not to mourn for his dear wife (Ez.24: 16-18). His misfortune signalled the larger misfortune Israel. God is specific in what form his chastisement would take shape. ‘Behold I will profane my sanctuary…(vs.21-24).’ The instance where God commands him to eat the defiled bread he is a sign and in his personal defilement is a symbol on a wider context that of the holiness enjoined by God. Ezekiel’s pollution is symptomatic of profaning the sanctuary. In such context salvation of mankind by vicarious death of Jesus on the cross strikes a chord. The Holy Sprit sets an individual as a sign, thereby consistently clues us in the thrust of the divine Will.
In Isaiah also we read that God uses his people as signs and wonders. ‘Behold I and the children… are for signs and for wonders in Israel…’ (Is.8: 18) It is in this context we need to understand why God forbade the prophet not to mourn for his wife.’ He was a sign, suffering just as the nation under Babylonian captivity.