READ: Ezekiel 31-33
BACKGROUND: By Verse –
31:1-18 – Verses 1-9 describe Egypt as a lofty cedar, 10-14 describe the destruction of Egypt, & 15-18 describe the reaction of other nations to her destruction.
1 – This is only a couple months before the fall of Jerusalem.
11 – Nebuchadnezzar
32:1 – March 585 BC. This is one year & seven months after the fall of Jerusalem and two months before the news reached Babylon.
14 – “Like oil” means undisturbed or untroubled – a sign of the prosperity of Egypt.
33:1-9 – This is a reminder of Ezekiel’s call to be a Watchman (1st seen in chapter 3).
21 – This is a paradigm shift in Ezekiel’s ministry. Jerusalem has now been conquered – which Ezekiel has been prophesying for 7 years. Now he’ll speak prophetically to the hope available to Israel because of God’s love and goodness.
23-29 – Ezekiel reminds those who avoided capture that they didn’t do so because of their own worthiness or merit.
THINK: I just got back from a trip to the Chicago area with a bunch of the high school students from Constance Free Church. We spent a day at Six Flags Great America, and I have to say the The Superman is one of the coolest rollercoasters in the world. It truly makes you feel like a bird. As I was waiting in the long line for the ride with nothing else to do I read some interesting facts about Superman, and I gotta say that he was pretty awesome! He was born on the planet Krypton but jettisoned to earth by his father only moments before the planet was completely destroyed. He ended up in Kansas, and he was discovered by a farmer and his wife who named him Clark Kent. As he was growing up he discovered that he had superhuman abilities. He was, in fact, faster than a speeding bullet. And of course, he used his powers to help humanity. And growing up I never really considered the motivations of superheroes. They just saved the world because they had superpowers – just like I would do if I had superpowers. All of us would, right? Then, when I was in high school I heard a song by The Crash Test Dummies that really made me stop for a second and consider WHY Superman would do what he did. They sang:
“Even though he could have smashed through any bank in the United States, he had the strength but he would not…Sometimes when Sup was stopping crimes, I bet that he was tempted to turn his back on men, join Tarzan in the forest. But he stayed in the city, kept on changing clothes in dirty old phone booths till his work was done…Superman never made any money, saving the world from Solomon Grundy, and sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him.”
It’s interesting to think that Superman didn’t have to use his powers to fight for justice. He was free to do really anything that he wanted. He really could have robbed banks and lived comfortably, but instead he lived humbly, changed clothes in dirty old phone booths, and used his powers to save the world. That’s pretty cool. But what in the world does it have to do with us – or with real life?
Well, most of you probably don’t believe that you have a superpower, but guess what: you’re wrong! You have a world changing superpower! It’s not the ability to fly or leap tall buildings in a single bound. And it is definitely not the kind of superpower where you get to start wearing your underwear on the outside of your pants like Superman does. But you have a superpower than can totally transform the world. It’s called the gospel. It’s the message that Jesus Christ – God himself – came to earth and took on humanity and died on the cross and rose again so that we could be forgiven and set free and reconciled to God. And saying that the gospel is a world changing superpower that you hold in your hands is not just a corny church line. The apostle Paul writes, in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” That message – the gospel – totally reshaped the Roman Empire and total transformed the history of the world. And it has the power to totally reshape our world and totally transform our high schools and our friends…if we’ll only USE our superpower and share it!
But we don’t always do that. We have this world-changing message in our hands and so many times we avoid sharing it, we just hold on to it and keep it to ourselves. We take comfort in it – knowing that we’re saved – but we don’t offer that same comfort to those around us every day even though Christ died for them too! We have faith but we don’t share it. Why?
Fear. We’re afraid of what people might think. We’re afraid they’d reject us. We don’t feel like it’s urgent or like we’re compelled to do it, and we’re afraid that if we speak up we’ll lose friends or not be seen as cool. We just want to blend in so we’re afraid to do anything different. God has a bigger plan! So big that we HAVE to share!
Ezekiel 33 is a pretty heavy passage. God basically tells Ezekiel, “Hey, I’ve given you a message that these people need to hear. If you deliver that message to them and they reject it then that’s their problem and their own foolishness. But if you choose not to deliver that message to them, then they don’t even know…they aren’t fully aware the way they should be, the way I want them to be, and their blood – their suffering – is on your head because you could have done something but instead you sat by and you did nothing! You said nothing.” God tells him, I have made you a watchman. And the job of the watchmen in that day and age was critical. The watchman warned the people when armies were coming to attack. Without the watchman that information wouldn’t get there and death was assured. When the watchman did his job – it saved lives. When he didn’t – it cost many more lives.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ – if you’ve accepted the gospel message as true – I believe that this is what God is saying to you tonight: “You are a superhero and your superhero name is The Watchman or The Watchwoman.” You are The Watchman – the Watchwoman. You hold in your hands the ability to save lives, and if you don’t utilize that ability – if you hold on to the information – the incredible, glorious, liberating information of salvation that is contained in the gospel then the blood of the people around you who perish is on your head. I have placed you right where you are – in this time and this place – to be a light, to be a world-changer, to share the gospel with those around you.”
I realize that may seem heavy, but it really isn’t for a couple of important reasons: 1. It gives us a mission and a purpose beyond just trying to survive this life, & 2. God doesn’t hold us responsible for the results. He simply calls us to make ourselves available to him to be used in whatever situations he puts us in so that he can draw those around us to himself. That’s an awesome purpose and mission for our lives! And I believe at the very core of my being that if we do it – if we just make ourselves available to God and allow faith to conquer our fears – we can create a whole new future for our friends, classmates, neighbors, teammates, & coworkers!