Pentecost 6 (Proper 9), July 4, 2021

God and a Rebellious People  Text: Ezekiel 2:1–5

As Rebels, Lord, Who Foolishly Have Wandered   LSB 612

As rebels, Lord, who foolishly have wandered far from Your love—unfed, unclean, unclothed—Dare we recall Your wealth so rashly squandered, dare hope to glean that bounty which we loathed?

Still we return, our contrite words rehearsing, speech, that within Your warm embrace soon dies; All of our guilt, our shame, our pain reversing as tears of joy and welcome fill Your eyes.

A feast of love for us You are preparing; We who were lost, You give an honored place! “Come, eat; come, drink, and be no more despairing—Here taste again the treasures of My grace.”  © 1992 Stephen P. Starke. Used by permission: CCLI, no. 692716.

  • The Gospel reading for this Sunday, Mark 6:1–13, makes this application of the Ezekiel reading clear. Jesus comes to his hometown of Nazareth to teach. They take offense at him, and Jesus marvels because of their unbelief, their unwillingness to hear God’s Word, their rebellion. What Ezekiel will experience in Israel’s unwillingness to hear is multiplied in spades in the rebellion against the Son of Man, Christ Jesus. 
  • On this political holiday, U.S. citizens are most prone to think of themselves as independent and voluntary actors in all facets of their lives. This OT reading, on the other hand, manifests a people and prophet both bound by and to God. Israel is bound to be rebellious against God. They can’t help act otherwise (3:7). And Ezekiel is bound to deliver the Lord God’s Word to rebellious Israel, lest he die (3:4, 11, 18). The Lord God is in control, although we consider ourselves to be independent, voluntary actors.
  • And we have seen the rebels…and they are us! 
  • We gentiles become rebellious Israel through the cross of Jesus and are raised as part of the new Israel through the resurrection of Jesus. In hearing and believing in this Word of God in baptism, hard-hearted gentiles hear Ezekiel’s word, and their hearts are turned from stone to living hearts. Thus, the preacher must preach so that rebel gentiles return to the word in their baptism and become once again the new Israel of God. 
  • The proclamation of the word didn’t stop for Ezekiel with prophesying it. He was commanded by the Lord God to literally eat the scroll with God’s Word upon it (2:8–3:3). So Jesus also drank the cup (Mk 10:38) of lamentation and moaning and woe (Ez 2:10) that comes from the rebellion of Israel. And in exchange all of Israel receives a cup of blessing and the bread of life. The preacher can proclaim that the hearer likewise participates in the Word by inwardly digesting it in the supper of Christ’s body and blood. Ezekiel’s word of woe and life in Christ Jesus becomes part of the very being of the baptized. Then they receive Ezekiel’s mantle through Christ and proclaim, “Thus says the Lord God,” to the world, whether they hear or refuse to hear.

 V 1: 

  • “Son of man.” God’s characteristic way of addressing Ezekiel in his book; God never addresses him by his name. This stresses the distance between the almighty, eternal God and weak, mortal man. 
  • “Stand on your feet.” Get ready to do whatever God commands.

V 4: 

  • “impudent.” The Hebrew literally is “hard or severe of face.” – Baptized is Vinegar
  • “Stubborn.” The Hebrew literally is “hard of heart.” For the Hebrews, the heart was the place of emotions, will, and intellect. “Hard of heart” implies a stubborn refusal to believe the Word of God. 
  • “Lord God.” Literally, “Lord Yahweh.” Lord is a designation for the almighty ruler of the universe. Yahweh is the personal name of the covenant God, who is the God of salvation, but also a jealous God, who will not tolerate covenant unfaithfulness on the part of his chosen people.

 I. In his grace, mercy, and love, God speaks to a rebellious people.

A. God spoke to the rebellious Israelites (vv 3–4) in exile in Babylonia through the prophet Ezekiel.

B. God speaks to rebellious people of all times and places through his Word, Scripture.

C. Scripture—Law and Gospel—is presented and proclaimed throughout the world by the Christian Church, which is used by God as his instrument for the preaching and teaching of his Word and Sacraments.

 II.    In his grace, mercy, and love, God changes a rebellious people.

A. God changed many of the rebellious Israelites in exile in Babylonia through the Word proclaimed by Ezekiel and through his written Word as it existed at that time (36:22–36; 37:1–28).

B. God changes rebellious people of all times and places through his Word. He changed you and me.

b. Paul writes in Titus (2:11–14), “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

As God dealt with the Israelites in exile in Babylonia, so he has dealt with us. God spoke to us through his Word and changed us from a rebellious people into his loving children who will live with him forever. We have everlasting life through faith in Christ. Let us, then, keep on living for the Lord, in thanks and praise to him! Amen.