Every generation believes the prophetic vision is for the next, therefore it is not their problem. But whose problem is it really?Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
*this is not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript
“I will accomplish great things…tomorrow.” This is the procrastinators’ creed. If there is a problem that needs attention, procrastinators find everyway to avoid dealing with it until the moment absolutely calls for it. When there is a deadline, the best time for the procrastinator to prepare for that moment is the night before, or even the morning of if they are good. But a procrastinator’s favorite problem is someone else’s problem, that is a problem they do not have to worry about. That kind of problem is not the procrastinator’s problem.
Today’s message will be in Ezekiel 12, titled “Now.” As we examine the text, we will be trying to answer the questions “whose problem is it when God speaks prophetic words of judgment?” Is it our problem, someone else’s, or the future generation’s issue?
26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
Whenever you study the book of Ezekiel, you will notice that God tells Ezekiel to do some strange things. Ezekiel’s message is harsh at many times, but that only makes Ezekiel blunt. What gives Ezekiel the label of ‘madman’ by many scholars is the actions God instructs Ezekiel to perform insane acts. Why? All to get the attention of God’s people. It is through this prophet’s writing we will find the answer to the question, “whose problem is it?”
VERSES 26-27 The word of the Lord came to me; “Son of man, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’” Ezekiel received a message from God. This was not a message Ezekiel dreamed up, or of his own doing. God gave it to him. Hebrews 1:1 tells, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Now matter which method, God gave His message to people, not for them to keep to themselves but to share with others. In Ezekiel’s task, it was to share God’s warning with a people who had spiritually fallen asleep.
God’s message for the people was one of warning. The warning was about a time when their sins would meet destruction, sin’s natural consequence. A time that was not specified, only that it was moment coming when the fullness of the people’s sin would reach its pinnacle. At that point they would face judgment. This warning was given at this point to let the people know that day was coming, but that there was still time to turn from their path to destruction. Our Lord does not give them the exact date so they would not procrastinate until then, His hope was they would cease sin’s pursuit now.
Ezekiel shares the message with them, only they do not listen to the prophet’s words. It is not because they believe Ezekiel’s vision will fail or has failed. They believed this prophecy was about a day way off into the future. Since it was way off in the future, then it was not their problem.
VERSE 28 “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” The people believed that the looming judgment was event that would take place in a far-off time, most likely after they were dead. But God did not share the warning to let them know so they procrastinate or put it off, He shared so they would change their ways. God responds to their lazy attitude by saying the judgment was not going to be dragged out into the future. They should hear it now to prepare in what little time remained.
As you and I learn from reading the Bible, the day would come for these people. They claimed to be the people of God, but worshipped everything but Him. Arrogantly, they defied the many warnings of Ezekiel and the other prophets. Then one day King Nebuchadnezzar showed up at the gates and everything changed. For the next seventy years they would be exiles in a foreign land.
Here in 2021, we would like to believe we have learned from their mistakes. And with all of our advancements since their time, we would like to think we would be able to overcome any obstacle that would come at us. But in a lot of ways, we fall into the same trap.
God has given us a warning, like the one He gave His people. Jesus, who is God, promised that one day He would return. Upon His return, evil would meet its’ judgment along with any who cling to its’ ways. However, we ignore this warning. On a smaller scale, through science, God has given us warnings on things like smoking. But still, many do not listen.
Why do we, people, ignore God’s warning? First, because in our minds it is a long way off. That means there is plenty of time for us to work it out, no need for a sense of urgency. Second, we may believe that the event is beyond our lifetime. If we are dead then the other problems are the least of our concern. Lastly, if we are dead then the warning is not our problem. Even those of us who gave our live to Christ can develop this attitude. We are right with God so the coming judgment is not for us, that is a problem for those who do not know the Lord. God gives a warning to humanity; we ignore it out apathy and laziness.
A word from God is sent to be heard. Scripture shows us moments when nations and persons are destined for destruction, but when they hear the warning they repent. As a result the event that loomed on the horizon is cancelled for them because the sin leading them to that moment has been confessed. God saved them through their faith. Nineveh repented when they heard the word from Jonah, so God spared them. He was even willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah had ten righteous people were found. The final judgment of sin is inevitable, but even that can be escaped by a person if they seek repentance.
A word from God is to be heard by all. Judgment is a problem for those who reject God and live contrary to His ways. God has sent warning because the event is avoidable for anyone who would believe. And for those who were once lost outside God’s promise, even though judgment was a problem that God has saved us from, it is still a concern for us. While you, me, and many others have heeded the warning, there are still many who have not.
Whose problem is it? Whose problem is it when God speaks prophetic words of judgment? Ours or future generations? The answer is yes. God gives the warning to all because it is for everyone. Matthew Henry wrote, “sinners slumber their damnation slumbers not.” Sin is actively destroying our world, the lives of those trapped in it, and impacting all generations.
There is time to share the message. If we who have been saved shared the way of escape, even if it only saved one person who knows the impact that could have on future generations? Many generations have faced days like ours, filled with darkness and despair. Today it is COVID-19, corrupt governments, and the cheering of wickedness. It is easy to fall asleep with phrases like “everyone is doing it” or “evil is so great,” being filled with no hope. But it was like that when the Church sold indulgences back in the dark ages, when the Christian empire collapsed at the hands of the Ottomans, when Nazi Germany controlled most of Europe, or when communist governments outlawed the Bible and unsanctioned gatherings. In those darkest of moments, there managed to be some who heard God’s warning and repented! If there was hope in those days, then there is still hope now!
Sin leads to destruction. God has given all that warning. Whether it is judgments in moments of history, or the final judgment that is waiting at the end, this is sin’s path. But this is not the path anyone has to travel! Hear God’s warning, repent and be saved! Having heard God’s warning, make it your life’s mission to help others do the same, like your Savior did for you.
Season 1 Episode 31. "Puff the Magic Christian." The text for the message is Colossians 2:8-23. The question we are trying to answer is "How do I be a good Christian?"