And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been captured!”

 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped. And He had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.
Ezekiel 33:21-22, NKJV

Men, in the 12th year of Ezekiel’s captivity from the 1st siege against Jerusalem, someone from the final collapse of Jerusalem to the Babylonian empire escaped and came to Ezekiel saying, “The city has been captured!” In chapter 3:26, we recall that the Lord had caused Ezekiel to become mute, unable to speak except that which the Lord directed through the time of pronouncement of God’s judgment on Israel and the nations. Ezekiel expected a visitor with news the night before as the hand of God was with Ezekiel and his mouth became loosened.

In chapter 24:25-27 the Lord had told Ezekiel that someone would escape and report of Jerusalems fall, and at that time he would no longer be mute. We learn from this that much of our service to the Lord comes in seasons. This time of muteness lasted over 7 years in total as he was expected to prophesy only what was given to Him by God. The integrity of the prophecy was preserved by Ezekiel’s inability to speak otherwise. It also became a daily reminder that what had been asked of him was not yet complete.

Ezekiel will now step into a new role of more pastoral care as a wave of new captives enter into Babylon. We often think that special service to God should afford us new and amazing gifts. Here we find that special service to the Lord meant giving up the gift of speech in submission to His specific message.

Remember, that there was little to be noted as remarkable of Ezekiel from the beginning. He was probably bitter about being denied the priestly role he would’ve taken if not swept away in the first captivity. Still, God has used him mightily even if not how he’d expected and the Lord will continue to use him. Anyone who intends to walk with the Lord will find their expectations challenged. We may find ourselves disappointed and exhausted from the cost of service.

Move forward men, knowing it’s for a season, for a purpose larger than our perspective, and it will not likely match up with our personal desire. Yet, He is God, and His ways are higher. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Vance Durrance

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Do You See Him? – Part 2

Do You See Him?Do You See Him?“Now that very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him). Then he said to them, “What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking sad.” -Luke 24:13-17

Have you ever wondered, “Why were their eyes kept from seeing Jesus?” It does seem rather intentional on God’s part, and I think, like with all that God does, there are multiple purposes in it. However, let’s focus on one.

Keep in mind, this is not a physical blindness, but a spiritual one. The disciples had yet to see Jesus as He truly was. Sure, they had seen His physical form for several years and spent much time looking into His face. But they were constantly perplexed by the things He did and the things He said. And at this point in the narrative, they are all in deep sadness, and they remain there despite all the evidence that Jesus actually did what He said He was going to do—die and rise again on the third day (Mat 16:21; 17:9; 20:19). Apparently, there was the important element of suffering that was missing from their equation (Luke 24:25); and thus, when Jesus appears to them in a more glorified state, (Luke 24:21), they missed Him entirely.

Suffering is often the missing element from our own equation that leaves us reeling in sadness and often feeling as if we are walking alone. I often hear people say that God doesn’t really give us answers to why we suffer and cite the book of Job as evidence of this. Yet, I believe Job tells us the opposite. God does give us answers (Job 33:14; 36:10, 15), for we are His “friends” if we seek to obey Him (John 15:15-14). And He has promised to be by our side (Lev. 26:12; Mat. 1:23; 28:20). Perhaps the reason we do not perceive that He is giving answers is because we are listening to another god (Ezek. 14:4) … a false image of Him, an idol in our heart that cannot answer (Isa. 115:3-5). In our suffering, perhaps the reason we are so often saddened by circumstances and feel God has abandoned us, that we are walking alone, is because we are looking for another messiah. The true Jesus is present with us, but we perceive Him not.

Joni Erickson Tada, in an old interview with James Dobson (“God’s Purpose in Tragedy I”, Family Talk, July 5, 2018) spoke of her own suffering. She had many questions those first few years after the accident that left her paralyzed. She was filled with questions longed for answers from God but got none. BUT, she said, “Once I came to the point of accepting my disability fully and entirely,” things started to change. “My trust in God did not depend on my ability or inability to perceive His plan or figure out His mind. My trust in God simply rested on His nature and His character… THEN I began to piece together some of the insights and reasons behind my disability.”

God is sovereign, and He does as He pleases (Isa. 115:3). He will not cater to our demands for immediate answers, nor should He (Job 35:9-15). Nor will He be manipulated and controlled by our assumptions and false images (1Sam. 15:23). He is the great I AM, and it is WE who need to bend our will, not Him. Because, He is that GREAT.

Yet God is also incredibly good, promising us gracious love (Exo. 34:6), abundant blessings (Isa. 78:15; John 10:10; Eph. 1:3; 2Pet. 1:3), and ultimate good (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:11) through circumstances and men’s wicked intentions (Gen. 50:20). In addition, even though a single sin is worthy of death, we go on living day after day breathing in His mercy. Even though we rebelled and became His enemy (Rom. 5:10), He pursued us and rescued us from our bondage to sin. Because He is that GOOD.

Therefore, as we go through this life, may we remember that suffering is a part of God’s redemptive work in a fallen, sinful world. Our Lord and Messiah HAD to suffer (Luke 17:25; John 1:29; Acts 2:23; Heb. 10:10; etc.). And since a servant is not greater than his master (John 13:16; 2Tim. 2:3), so as His servants we participate in His suffering so as to participate also in His resurrection power (1Pet. 4:13; Col 1:24; Phil. 3:10; 2Cor. 1:5). If we stay focused on Jesus as He is truly revealed in His Word, trusting in His character (His sovereignty and goodness and the necessity of suffering), then we will indeed see His presence walking with us, and in due time hear the answers we long to understand.

Billy Neal

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