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The Immediacy of Religion (4 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
I fancy that Ezekiel was a much-discouraged preacher. These opening chapters of his prophecy are full of indications that he prophesied to a skeptical and unbelieving people. They were, as he puts it, a rebellious house. His words produced no effect upon them. He had that most heartbreaking of all the preacher's experience-he saw his most urgent appeals and his most solemn warnings alike pass utterly unheeded.
And in my text I find one of the reasons why Ezekiel's ministry produced such little effect. The people did not believe that his message in any way concerned them. The burden of Ezekiel's preaching was the sure destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the Jewish people. In a score of ways he tried to bring this solemn truth home to the hearts and consciences of his hearers. They, however, calmly pooh-poohed it. They said they had heard that kind of thing before. Jeremiah had uttered similar bodeful prophecies. But day after day had passed and nothing had happened. Jerusalem was still standing. The people were still in possession of the land. So they ignored and neglected the prophet's message. It left them absolutely unmoved. They comforted themselves with the thought that if there was any truth at all in the prophet's message, it related to some faroff time. It had no immediate concern for them. Why should they trouble about a distant future so long as they had peace and quietness in their own days? So they turned deaf ears to Ezekiel's appeals and dismissed his warnings with the remark, 'The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of times that are far off.'
The preacher is oftentimes still a much-discouraged man. Like Ezekiel, he finds that after his most urgent appeals the people are still unmoved, and that after his most solemn warning they remain quite unconcerned. Between him and them there seems to be a kind of wall o ...
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