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Commission & Compassion

Ezekiel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Scripture

Ezekiel 11:5–13 ESV
5 And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. 6 You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. 8 You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. 9 And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. 10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 11 This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.” 13 And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”

5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. 6 You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. 8 You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. 10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the LORD. 11 This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 and you shall know that I am the LORD. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”

13 And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”

Ezekiel 11:5–13 ESV
And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.” And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”

Introduction

Every Pastor faces the difficult task of fulfilling a commission that requires both correction, and compassion. The Pastor’s prophetic role will sometimes require him to speak a difficult word in difficult times. My brothers and sisters, I want to shed some light on the Pastor’s vocation but specifically on his assignment as the resident prophet in this Church. Because if you can understand, respect, and appreciate his role as God’s mouthpiece, you’ll develop a better relationship with the God he’s speaking for. You cannot appreciate your Pastor until you fully understand the burden that’s sometimes placed on his shoulders. You can’t really respect your Pastor if you don’t recognize where his authority comes from. You can’t comprehend your Pastor’s pain unless you get a glimpse of the position the Pastor is placed in when he speaks on Heaven’s behalf. does exactly that. It gives us a view of God’s purpose for the prophet, and the prophet’s pain.

The Prophet’s Commission

God’s plan for the Pastor as his mouth piece requires the man of God to speak hard words, to heard-headed people, yet maintain a soft heart. The Pastor is placed in a tough position. He’s wedged between a God trying to move his people closer to the cross and a people that have become comfortable where they are. The Prophet’s commission places him sometimes places him between a God who is angry and a nation who is guilty. Because he is stuck between two sides that aren’t always on the same side, sometimes his words are controversial. Sometimes his words hurt. Sometimes his words will cut sharper than a two edged sword. But as the people of God don’t fight the Pastor. Because the Pastor’s words don’t belong to the Pastor, they just come from his mouth.
In Ezekiel Chapter 3 we witness Ezekiel’s commission and instructions from the Lord.
Ezekiel 3:1–3 ESV
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
He tells the prophet to fill himself with the scroll. The scroll in was the scroll that God had given Ezekiel in Chapter 2 that contained the words of God himself. The prophets words don’t belong to him but they’ve been given to him for him to inhale and then herald to God’s people. So long as the Pastor is feeding you what he got from God, don’t get mad at the waiter, take it up with the chef. God clearly commissioned Ezekiel, but not just Ezekiel, to speak a word to the people that come straight from God. I invite you beloved to be leery of any prophet who’s speaking something you can’t find in the Bible. It may sound good and it may tickle your ears but if it didn’t come from the Bible it’s not prophetic, it’s a problem. The Pastor’s role is to ingest and digest everything he can from the sacred scroll and then speak it to the people.

The People’s Condition

This might be a surprise to you all but it’s not a fresh revelation to the Pastor. What determines the ease or the difficulty of the Pastor’s job as the local prophet is the people. The biggest challenge for any prophet is the condition of the people. When God called Ezekiel to be his prophet he warned him that the people would be smart but they would be stubborn. They would hear your words, but that doesn’t mean they would listen to you. But then in he says, don’t be dismayed, the reason they won’t listen to you is because they refuse to listen to me. In other words don’t be surprised if you have some member who refuse to heed to the words that you preach Sunday after Sunday their problem is not with you, they have a problem with the God who sent you and they just don’t know it. The problem isn’t with the prophet or his past or who he is, the problem is with the person who has ears to hear but doesn’t hear. If you leave Church every Sunday and have a problem with the words from the book, don’t ask the Lord to change the prophet, ask him to change your heart.

Ezekiel’s Conflict

Fast forward to and we see that Ezekiel has a situation on his hands that illustrates the troubles we face as preachers in this era. In Chapter 11 Ezekiel finds himself battling the bad teaching of the political leaders in the community of Jews in Babylon. The Israelites found themselves in a strange land. A land that was pagan. A land that didn’t honor God, and the prophet had to stand up and speak out against the heresy of the political figures of that time, Jaaziniah and Pelatiah. Sound familiar? We live in a time where politics and pop culture have become the leading influence on how Christians should live their lives? People are more likely to take the advice of politicians and pop stars than they are their Pastor. Ezekiel’s dilemma isn’t too different from the dilemma that we face today. Pelatiah and Jaazaniah were fooling the people into thinking that they were safe from God’s judgement because of their geographic location. As long as they lived in the city and did what the people in the city did they were safe because somehow the city offered them protection. Fooled the people into thinking that city life made them exempt from the punishment of God. It’s been over 2,000 years since Ezekiel or somebody close to Ezekiel recorded this prophecy but people haven’t changed much. People can get misled by politics and consumed by the culture and pretty soon they forget who they are and whose they. God sent the prophet Ezekiel to remind them that you might do what is considered acceptable in the city but when the Lord calls for an answer the city can’t save you. The city might tell you that it’s okay to keep living the way you’re living but when it’s time to answer to God, the city can’t save you. So God sends Ezekiel to correct the mindset and the behavior of the people. He sends the Pastor to instruct and to warn the sheep when they get it wrong and encourage them when they get it right. The Pastor is faced with a difficult task, but it’s a task that he can’t quit because he’s been commissioned by God, and task he must endure patiently because of his compassion for the people. I want to give you three clues as to what it’s like to to be a prophet in these times. The concern that the prophet must have for the people. The correction that the prophet provides for the people and the compassion that the prophet has for the people.

Concern

Ezekiel 11:5 ESV
And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind.
Ezekiel 11:6 ESV
You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain.
Ezekiel
What is it that keeps the prophet propped up? How does he continue to preach when nobody’s listening? The desire to stand up week after week and preach what thus said the Lord is fueled by a concern for the spiritual health of the people. You have to understand that even when his words aren’t pleasing to you, he’s just concerned about you. What separates a Pastor and a Prophet from a pulpit pimp is his concern. The pulpiteer or pimp is concerned with his pockets, but the prophet is concerned about his people. You want to know how you can tell the difference between a preacher that’s concerned about himself and preacher that’s concerned about you? A preacher that’s concerned about you will tell you what you need to hear. A preacher that’s only concerned with himself will tell you what you want to hear. A prophet that’s only concerned about his well being will let the people stay where they are, but a prophet who’s concerned about God’s agenda will lead the people where God told him they should go. You should be afraid of any preacher who begs you to come as you and tells you it’s okay for you to stay as you are. A concerned Pastor will try to prepare you for Jesus return and urge you to make the rough places plain and the crooked places straight. At the heart of everyone of your Pastor’s sermons is some concern for your relationship with the Lord. Sometimes he’s more concerned about you spiritually than you are. His concern comes from what is revealed to him by the spirit, and what he has witnessed in the past.
What is it that keeps the prophet propped up? How does he continue to preach when nobody’s listening? The desire to stand up week after week and preach what thus said the Lord is fueled by a concern for the spiritual health of the people.

The Spirit

What is the Spirit’s role in leading the prophet?
The Spirit is gives the prophet discernment about his people. Notice the first clause in verse 5: “And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me”. The only way for the Pastor to have a clear sense of what the people need is to have been led by the Spirit. Since the Spirit of God is as much God as God is God, then the Spirit and God agree. The same mind that is in God is in the Spirit. The Pastor has to be a Spirit led man in order to first determine that the people are headed in the wrong direction, and then to discern which direction to lead them. The Spirit gives conviction and causes the Pastor to become keenly aware of the folly of the people. The prophet or Pastor doesn’t have to follow you home to know what’s going on at the house. He doesn’t have to sit in the classroom at the school to know what’s going on at the school. The Spirit gives him discernment over things unseen and unsaid. The last sentence in verse 5 says, “For I know the things that come into your mind”. As long as the prophet is connected to the Spirit he is aware of the things that you have been struggling with in secret. What the Spirit reveals to him causes him deep concern for the people. It causes him concern, but it is also the source of his strength. A prophet is not one who becomes aware of a problem and does not speak. His concern causes him to be burdened, but the spirit enables him to be bold. Thank God for the Spirit, because I’m sure there are many times when your Pastor’s own burdens seem like too much too bear. Then he adds on top of his own shortcomings, and sadness, and sickness, his concern for his people he can’t speak without the Spirit.

The Slain

The Spirit’s role is to reveal to him the condition of his people, and that condition often times is the cause for his concern. But here’s why he’s so concerned, and I think it should concern all of us. The Lord speaks through Ezekiel and he says:
“You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain.”
Again, Ezekiel in this vision is speaking out against the wicked counselors of the city, Jaazaniah and Pelatiah. What he’s witnessed as a result of their leadership is what causes God to send the Prophet to these people. His concern is for the slain. Those who have become weary, worn, and wounded by the powers to be. The people have put their trust in the politicians and they looked for security in the land, but the same people who told them that the city was a cauldron and in the cauldron they were safe from all harm, are the very people that harmed them. The same country that claimed to be the land of the brave and home of the free, had shackled them. The country that promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and claims to be one nation under God, herded up children, took them from their parents, and placed them in detainment camps like wild animals. Don’t you put more faith in what the politician says than what the prophet says. The prophet’s concern was birthed from what he witnessed. The wicked counselors had fooled the people into thinking that their relationship with the God of Heaven and Earth was alright when it really wasn’t. The people found out that the people they were relying on the keep them and protect them from God were the same people who would end up killing them. But thank God for the prophet and his concern. Thank God that he can commission weak men and give them enough care and concern for his people that he can stand and preach to them weak after week so that their relationship with their God can be right because their country is a mess. Thank God for sending a local prophet to try and warn the people against the ways of the wicked.

Correction

Ezekiel 11:8 ESV
You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God.
Ezekiel 11:
Ezekiel 11:10 ESV
You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 1
Ezekiel 11:12 ESV
and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
Ezekiel 11:
The concern of the prophet leads him to try correct the people. Through the Spirit the Pastor sees the error of the people. Through the news he sees the error of the leaders and how their moral misjudgments have filled the streets with slain sheep. A true prophet doesn’t just speak blessing over your life. A true prophet will urge you to correct the wrong that’s in your life. Correction can be hard when you’re dealing with hard hearted people. Correction can be just as hard when you’re dealing with people who have some power, or have some money, or have some education, or have something to say. Ezekiel’s job was tough because he was trying to correct the people who were leading the people. They had more influence than he had. They had the ear of the people and they had control of the country, so what incentive did they have to listen to Ezekiel? Do you know how hard it can be to correct someone who feels like they have more than what you have? Don’t mess around and try to preach to people who feel like they have more education than what you have. Try getting in a pulpit where the people feel like they make more money than the preacher. They will think that dollar they put in the offering basket gives them a right to tell you how to Pastor the church God called you to Pastor. Correction can be a relationship killer. It can cause deacons to fight with Pastors, and it can turn the membership into a mob to get rid of him. But if the people will acknowledge the commission and the position of the prophet, they will heed to the correction that he urges. I want you to look at the two things that Ezekiel was trying to correct, the mind and the culture.

The Mind

Ezekiel 11:5 ESV
And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind.
The object of Ezekiel’s correction and the source of the people’s problem is the mind. The Lord speaks through Ezekiel and essentially he says, it is the the things that you have allowed to enter into your mind that have corrupted you. Bad thoughts, my brothers and sisters, lead to bad behavior. The Bible says:
Proverbs 4:23 ESV
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
That word heart is translated to mean one’s inner self. What one thinks internally controls what you do externally. The prophet’s job is to proclaim God’s words so that your mind can be renewed to follow God’s ways. The only way to fix what’s wrong with our community’s is to herald the message until minds are reformed. When minds are reformed then communities will become transformed. The only way to get a group of people going in the same direction is for them to be of the same mind. You want to know the secret to helping people out of the depression epidemic? Work on the mind. I will keep thee in perfect peace, who’s mind is stayed on me. Thank God for the Pastor, preacher, prophet that proclaims the word of God so that our minds can be renewed. Faith begins with the mind. We have to take our minds away from the world and set them on the one who made the world. How can we overcome the trials of this life without faith that this isn’t all there is to our existence. That just beyond the Jordan there is something greater.
2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV 1900
1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
How can we know that no weapon formed against us shall prosper unless it has entered into our minds that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus, and if God before us who can be against us. That kind of faith begins in the mind.
Romans 10:17–18 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
Romans 10:17 KJV 1900
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Thank God for sending the prophet to preach the word of God so that our faith would be transitioned from the country to the cosmos.
Romans 10:17

The Culture

Ezekiel 11:12 ESV
12 and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
Ezekiel informs them that it is what has entered into their minds that is the cause of their rebellion. Then in verse 12 he warns them it is the culture that has poisoned them. Notice he says,
“For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
The biggest stumbling block for us as Christians today is the current culture. Culture has become so far removed from Christianity that it is hard to fathom that this nation at any time was a God fearing nation. It seems as if every time you watch the news people are going out of their way to undermine and defy everything that the word of God teaches. It was the same way in Ezekiel’s day look at what he says. They had abandoned walking according to the precepts of God and adopted the ways of everyone else around them. You must understand that Ezekiel was speaking to an audience of Israelites who had been exiled from their country into a foreign country. They were taken out of the land of Judah and placed an a pagan land. There were outnumbered, and therefore they were being consumed by the culture of the natives in that land. This is the same thing that will happen to us if we aren’t careful. Our country is growing more and more pagan as we speak. If the current trends continue pretty soon Christians will be greatly outnumbered in this country by other religious sects, and non believers. The same word of warning that Ezekiel issues to them applies to us. Guard yourself against the culture. Don’t judge yourself by what the culture says is acceptable, judge your actions according to what the word says is acceptable. Paul says it this way:
Romans 12:1–2 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Pastor has the difficult task of correcting the people when they have been affirmed by the culture. He has to teach your children that just because they somebody do it or say it on facebook doesn’t mean that it’s okay for them to do it or say it. The prophet has the difficult task of standing up and warning people against adapting the lifestyles of their coworkers and even some of their family members. He has a difficult job of correcting people and telling them that they shouldn’t live according to the environment that they have to live in everyday. You should pray for the Pastor that he would have the strength to stand and correct the people although he know he’s going to be crucified by the culture for speaking against the ways of the world.

Compassion

Ezekiel 11:13 ESV
And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”
Lastly, we see the compassion of the Pastor, prophet, preacher. The prophet speaks because the Spirit of God has revealed to him some concerning things about the people of God. The prophet corrects because that’s what concerned Pastors do. But when concern, and correction aren’t enough to convince a dying world that the wages of sin is death and the free gift of God is eternal life, the Pastor can’t become hardened. He can never lose his compassion for the people. Both the people and the Pastor need to understand the compassion that he has when he speaks on the behalf of God. It isn’t just the Pastor’s compassion that we must understand, it’s God’s compassion for us that we must also take a look at.

The Pastor’s Compassion

In
Near the conclusion of the prophecy we see the compassion of the prophet on display. Ezekiel has preached, and warned the leaders Jaazaniah and Pelatiah to turn from their ways. He has pleaded with them and told them what would happen if they continued to lead the people down the wrong path. Unfortunately, his warning wasn’t enough to save Pelatiah. The text says that while he was prophesying Pelatiah died. The harsh reality of preaching and Pastoring is that you can preach to people and try to lead people in the right direction with everything that’s in you, but there will inevitably come a point where in the midst of all your preaching some will perish. It would be easy for a self-indulgent preacher to say I told you so and preach the funeral, eat the chicken at repass, and go home and sleep like a baby. But God doesn’t send a Pastor or prophet without compassion. The text tells us that after Pelatiah had passed, Ezekiel fell to his face and began to cry out to the Lord. Although he had done what God told him to do, he had said to the people what God told him to say. He had done his job to the best of his ability. Yet he still felt the guilt and sorrow of a member of his congregation who would not turn around. We need to take that into consideration when the Pastor is preaching and telling us what God has told him to tell us through his word. Even if you don’t want to do it. You may not care whether or not you get it right or whether or not you please the Lord, but the Pastor does. You may not be concerned with what happens to you after this life, but the Pastor is. His compassion is deep and it won’t just affect him, it will affect his wife and his family. Because as he mourns over your soul his family will mourn over his mourning. You should have some compassion for the Pastor, prophet, preacher, because he has compassion for you.

God’s Compassion

Make no mistake about it, a compassionate and caring Pastor was not sent by a God who does not also have compassion for his people. Ezekiel cried out to the Lord and asked:
“Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”
Although Pelatiah perished, Jaazaniah did not. Although God could have taken them both, he didn’t. He could have wiped out the entire remnant, but he didn’t. God saw the people’s rebellion and their hard hearts and he could have taken them out. Instead, he sent a man to stand in the gap and warn them of what was coming to them. God’s grace and his mercy caused him to give the people a heads as to what was coming and an opportunity to get it right. You ought to thank God that instead of sending his punishment, he sent you a prophet. Thank God for the man that stands between you and God and declares the wages of sin and the free gift of eternal life. God sent the prophet to try and save the people in spite of the people. If you can’t find any other reason to appreciate your Pastor you ought to thank God that he cared enough about you to send you a man that wants to try and help you get it right before it’s too late. If you can’t celebrate your Pastor for any other reason you should celebrate the fact that while you were out there where you were, doing what you were doing God didn’t take you out. Instead he brought you in and put somebody between you and your punishment to speak a word of correction. Every prophet is not a Pastor, but every Pastor should be a prophet to his people. Warning everyone and teaching everyone. You should celebrate the Pastor because he is a reminder of God’s compassion. Anytime you sit in the pews and start to think about how you wish he would hurry up and sit down you need to thank God that he’s standing before you and not God standing before you. It’s not because you’ve got it right, but he’s giving you time to stop getting it wrong. Whenever you feel the temptation to talk about the Pastor you need to thank God for the Pastor because the only person on this side of Heaven that prepare you for your meeting with God. The Pastor is just another symbol of God’s grace.

Conclusion

I know we’re here to celebrate your Pastor this morning and I want you to continue to celebrate your Pastor. But don’t forget to thank God for Jesus. Because the prophet serves his purpose but Jesus did once and for all what the prophet could only attempt to do. Ezekiel was just a preview of what Christ eventually came to do. The Pastor prepares the people for the Christ that is coming back to get his people. Thank God for Jesus. The prophet that was and is and is to come. The prophet that sat and sits above every prophet. Jesus had a prophetic ministry as well. He had a concern for his people. He spoke the words of the one who sent him. He tried to correct the wickedness of the people, yet had compassion on sinners. Thank God for Jesus who’s prophetic ministry went beyond words and onto an old cross. The prophet that predicted that they would tear down the temple but he would raise it three days later. They God for Jesus who even when it seemed like he had failed his mission told the thief on the cross,
“truly you will be with me in paradise”.
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