And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me.
Have you ever watched a group of demonstrators carrying placards to call attention to their cause? Perhaps you have participated in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charity. Frequently people must do extraordinary things to gain publicity or call attention to their particular beliefs. There is a prophet in the Old Testament who did exactly the same thing at the direct command of God. His name was Ezekiel.
A contemporary of Jeremiah and Dariel, Ezekiel was a priest (Ezekiel 1:3), but never served as such because he was taken captive to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:10-16). Ezekiel settled with a group of exiles at Tel-Abib, a town in the interior part of Babylonia on the river Chebar. Five years after he arrived in Babylonia, when he was about thirty years of age, Ezekiel received a call from Jehovah to prophesy to the people of the captivity.
Prophesying during the darkest days of the captivity, Ezekiel was met only with indifference and despondency among the people. The captive Jews would not listen to his message. Therefore God instructed Ezekiel to resort to a more dramatic method of proclaiming the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of preaching or speaking in parables, he would act out the parable. Ezekiel would dramatize what God was about to do with His great city Jerusalem.
God reminded Ezekiel that he lived in a rebellious house amid a rebellious nation and that he should prepare to move out of that house. In order to be a visual representation of the captivity of Jerusalem, God commanded Ezekiel to "dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby." So, packing his bags, Ezekiel proceeded to gouge out a hole in the mud wall of his house, making an opening onto the street through which he would pass with his baggage. There he would wait.
"And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me" (Ezekiel 12:8). Having waited all night, Ezekiel now gave an explanation to the Israelites for his rather unusual actions. Five times in this chapter the word of the Lord came unto him; five times he had to wait on the word of the Lord. True, waiting in the comfort and privacy of his house would not have been as difficult as waiting on the sidewalk while everyone passed by, but waiting on God is never easy.
Sometimes the purposes and messages of God are revealed slowly. His grand designs can never be hurried. The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was a man of great poise and quiet manner. Yet at times he suffered from moments of frustration when he had to wait on God. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged animal.
"What's the trouble, Mr. Brooks?" he asked.
"The trouble is that I am in a hurry, but God isn't!"
We can imagine that having clawed through the wall with bags in hand and waiting on the sidewalk for God to speak to him again was difficult for Ezekiel. Nonetheless, after God initially spoke to him, it was not until the morning that God came to him the second time. Ezekiel did as God commanded him without need for explanation. But then, in full view of everyone on the street, he must patiently wait on the Lord to speak to him again.
You and I must recognize that God leads us every step of the way, whether we understand His leading or not. To hear God say "Go" or to hear Him say "Stay" is usually easier than to hear Him say "Wait"! In potential ridicule, the prophet of God waited all night to hear the Lord God give him further instructions. How long are we willing to wait on God? Do we trust Him enough to wait on Him today?
MORNING HYMN Not ours to know the reason why Unanswered is our prayer, But ours to trust God's wisdom still And to His love repair.
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