Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

For some reason, today's evangelists don't seem to preach out of Ezekiel very much.

Surprising, when you consider that Ezekiel was something of an evangelist too. It was his job to turn the Israelites (and anyone else who happened to be listening) back to God.

Yet paradoxically, in modern evangelism at least, Zeek doesn't seem to get the same press-coverage of, say, the more popular gospels, with their nice stories, of God being nice, and doing nice things. I think the reason why Ezekiel doesn't get quoted as often is because, frankly, the book's content can feel a little embarrassing. (that's a statement about my own feelings – not about the book itself)

There appear to me to be four aspects to Ezekiel's testimony that make it hard to quote inoffensively to non-Christians:

1. Ezekiel actually meets God several times, and describes these encounters with the exactness of someone who doesn't seem to want to forget anything. His descriptions of the four-headed winged creature (covered in eyes) that moves around on wheels and flies, is my first cause for awkwardness. If something like that happened to me, then, unlike Ezekiel, I think I would only feel able to open-up about that with someone who I was very close to, and felt safe with. Ezekiel, on the other hand, publishes it. I think I'll just gloss over that bit.

2. God tells Ezekiel to lie on his side for 9 months, eating only food cooked on human excrement, at the end of which he gets to... can you guess?... yes, ha ha, change sides.

Yeah, I, err, I think I'll just read on past that bit too.

3. Forget the crowd-pleasing prosperity-gospel, Ezekiel predicts... woe. Lots of woe. Woe, woe, woe. More woes than Fantasy Island by Tight Fit. Woe to everyone in fact – the Israelites, Tyre, the Egyptians, you name it, God is going to utterly punish everyone. Woe. He's even going to punish the people who he makes inflict the punishment, for doing it so well. Woe, dude.

At one point in chapter 9, we even get a flash-forward to God finally annihilating the entire Israelite people, in apparent contradiction to how he promised to look after them back in Exodus.

Erm... let's move onto number 4...

4. For the last nine chapters, God goes into meticulous detail about a new temple that he wants built for people to slaughter yet more animals in, as some uncomfortable form of worship to him.


So, in summary, what was Ezekiel's message? Was he telling us that he saw a four-headed creature covered in eyes that had wheels and could fly, and that we're all going to eat food cooked on dung, until God kills us, unless we slaughter the animals first?


He said that God is awesome and good, while our sins are so bad that they're slowly killing us. And the only way to make ourselves good again is to aim for God's goodness. And the only way to put God first forever, is to give him whatever is currently first.

For my money, Ezekiel also has the clearest piece of evangelistic teaching in the whole Bible. It's in this blog's sidebar, I'm quoting it again in the next post, and here it is in this post too:

Ezekiel 33:12-16 (CEV):

Tell them that when good people start sinning, all the good they did in the past cannot save them from being punished. And remind them that when wicked people stop sinning, their past sins will be completely forgiven, and they won't be punished.

Suppose I promise good people that they will live, then later they start sinning and believe they will be saved by the good they did in the past. These people will certainly be put to death because of their sins. Their good deeds will be forgotten.

Suppose I warn wicked people that they will die because of their sins, and they stop sinning and start doing right. For example, they need to return anything they have taken as security for a loan and anything they have stolen. Then if they stop doing evil and start obeying my Law, they will live. Their past sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they have done right.


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