John Newlands - Ezekiel - Biddeston, Queensland, Australia - 2017

Ezekiel 1:1–5, “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month which was the fifth year of the king Jehoiachin’s captivity. The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi in the land of Chaldeans by the river Chebar and the hand of the Lord was there upon him. And I looked and behold a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire and folding itself and of brightness was about it and out of the midst thereof as a colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” Verse 28, “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness around about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and I heard a voice of One that spake.” 2:1-2, “And He said unto me, 'Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak unto thee.' And the Spirit and it into me when He spake unto me, and set me up on my feet that I heard Him that spake unto me.”  3:10, “Moreover He said unto me, 'Son of man, all My word that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.'” Ezekiel was sent to the captives at Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans. One thing that impressed me most of all with this book in the first two chapters, Ezekiel was sent to speak to those in the house of Israel and they were already in captivity. I think at that time up there in Jerusalem, Jeremiah was still there and he was speaking to those who were still in Jerusalem. Humanly thinking, I thought to myself, "Well, I could see the sense in that. God was still speaking to children who were still up in Jerusalem and trying to be a help to them through Jeremiah."

Here we read of the children of Israel who had been bought into captivity. They must have made that long track down from Jerusalem to Babylon and I don’t think the enemy would have provided transport for them. A punishment because of their disobedient and now they were in captivity. You read the first two chapters, you will read that they were a rebellious people and I thought to myself, "How could it possibly be? God had delivered them into captivity because of their disobedient and their rebellion. They were now captives and they would have to learn a new language and in amongst different customs and all the rest of the them surely they would be mourning and surely they would have a spirit of being chastened, but they were still a rebellious house." I was sad when I came to that realisation. After being delivered into captivity for a majority of them and there was still no response to the word of God.

I like what it says the word of God came expressly to Ezekiel. There was some faithful souls in that captivity because and it was the will of God that these people would go down into captivity and it was there resistance that caused the problem. I like to think of God chastening and He was moving upon the life of Ezekiel to try and be a help to these people. God was very faithful even in this distressful situation in captivity and God was faithful in sending His word. That little phrase makes me think of a sister worker and I was at a convention in England and it was the night before the convention started and we had an informal meeting. I will never forget this statement for as long as I live. A sister worker got up who had laboured in Scandinavia for 30 years and she was an American. She said, "I have been labouring for 30 years in Scandinavia and I haven’t had anyone to profess," and in the next breath, she said, "The Lord is faithful in sending His word."  I thought, "What marvellous grace and what wonderful submission." The Lord was still faithful in sending His word and I thought to myself, "After the first 10 years, I think I would be applying for a transfer." God is faithful in sending His word and that is the way she looked at it.

I was thinking about that when God was speaking to Ezekiel here and the words came expressly to Ezekiel. God stirred them up. Moreover, He said unto me, "Son of man, all My word that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears." It would appear that the words would reach the heart before they would reach the ear. That seemed a little strange. To firstly received the word into their heart and then receive it into their ear. Then I thought of something we learnt in the physics in high school and the teacher was speaking to us about the speed of sound. He was speaking about Big Ben in London and if someone held the microphone up in the belltower and a man was standing down in the street. If Big Ben starts to chime and if a man in Brisbane had a radio to his ear, which man would hear the chime first? The man in Brisbane would and the radio waves travel a lot faster than through the air. I found that very interesting.

It was almost like this here, also the word of God in our heart is a work in our heart and God does use our ears also and our mind. He uses our physical faculties. The work of God is the work of the heart. The word of God was reaching the heart first then reaching the ear. Sometimes when we are not paying attention and not listening with interest, the message may reach the ear and reach the mind. Listening at convention and my mind could be like that and sometimes when we go away and come back to convention next year and we feel that we have not done very much. May be that is my problem and it reached the ear and reached the mind and it does reach the memory and I have been careful to allow it to sink into the heart and that is the only place it will do the work. God is faithful in sending His word and He wants that word to reach our heart and to go much further than the mind.

It says here of Ezekiel - he had bitterness of spirit but the hand of God was upon him. There was a little bit of rebellion and, "Why me?" It was in his spirit and not in God’s spirit. May be Ezekiel was feeling very comfortable where he was. God asked Ezekiel to go out and told him it would not be very easy, but God was going to help him. God was trying to use His servant Ezekiel to make sure the word reached where God wanted it to reach. I am thankful for those that have been a help to me in this convention and the workers on either side of me and the folk in front of me with your testimonies helping the word of God to reach the depths of my heart. I hope to go out and practice this which has been laid upon my heart. We need to change and I do also have some changes in my life to make.

There is something I would like to share with you about God being faithful in sending his word. I remember when I was sitting in a gospel meeting and I was 11 ½ years old in December 1964. Two sister workers were having a mission in our area quite near home and this was a little while after our conventions in Scotland. George Slater from New Zealand and he was a Scotsman who went in the work in New Zealand and it was considered his first home visit. Tthere was another worker Alex Marshall, still in the area after Convention. So the two sisters invited the two brothers to speak in the gospel meeting. George had a married sister in the area and neither she or her husband was walking in the truth. She had been bought up in the truth like George himself and she never accepted it, and they invited this couple to come to the meeting and they came. No doubt, all the friends were quite excited.

I do not know if they heard anything in the meeting that impressed them or not and it was when Alex Marshall was speaking and I do not remember one single thing he said. My mother said she could remember years after what he had said and it never rang a bell with me. It was when Alex was speaking that God touched my heart for the very first time in my life, and I am so thankful for that. I did not go out of that meeting all happy and rejoicing and I went out sad and hardly knew what had happened. Going home in the little car and looking out the window and I never knew what had happened there was sadness and there is anguish and I was troubled. I did not profess then and never professed till I was 14. I do not know if anyone else received help from that meeting. I am very grateful that I did and God saw that wee boy of 11½ years old and was able to speak to me.

When King David was old, I Kings 1:1, “Now King David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.” David wanted it and the Lord wanted it that Solomon should be king after David had died. But then Adonijah wanted to be king. Verse 5–6, “Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, 'I will be King,' and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.  And his father had not displeased him at any times in saying, 'Why hast thou done so?' And he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.” Adonijah began to reign and it wasn’t what David or what God wanted. Do you know the reason why this happened? I believe David was 99% to blame for what happened here. As we have read, his father never displeased him in what he had done. In the Spanish Bible, it says his father had never sadden him. This boy had done what he liked and probably did things that annoyed David at the time, but David did not say anything. Never corrected him, did not want to make him sad.

This is the thing I appreciate so much about our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father saw that little boy of 11½ years old and he is too young now and we will leave him a wee while. God was faithful in sending His word and troubling me and I thought about the thing for a few days or a few weeks and I don’t really know how long and I came to the conclusion God was telling me the salvation of your parents is not your salvation and you have to do something about it yourself if you want to be saved. I am very thankful that God sent His words and God was willing to trouble me and make me think about the family.

David was a good man but he failed in that one, he failed to be a help to his son Adonijah and Adonijah died and he did something else foolish. I suppose he thought he would get away with it as he had got away with everything else, but he died and God would not have him. You people that are parents with young children and you make sure your word reaches their heart. When you ask them to do something and we know how hard it is growing up and even though what you say to them is going to disturb them and make them sad and trouble him and have the will to do it and if you don’t they might end up like Adonijah. I will be King and the human spirit rising up and wanting to rule over everyone else and parents included and that is what we see some time and sad to say. Children that are not corrected and it leaves their parents in grief in the future.

Then we read about Eli and his sons. There in first Samuel, Eli’s sons were priests and is says they were men of Belial and I looked up that word and really it is something like the devil and they were very spoilt as well and if they wanted the best food and they never got it they took it by force. We read here that Eli did check them and when God finally spoke to Samuel in that time He called for Samuel and finally Samuel began to listen to the Lord and the Lord said to Samuel, “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” Eli spoke to his sons “And he said unto them, 'Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all his people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear; ye make the Lord’s people to transgress.'” So why and he told them and as someone said once he didn’t tell them with emphasis and he did not make sure his word reached their heart. Maybe it reached their mind and their ear than it was cut off.

You folk make sure your helpful words and your love for your children, make sure it reaches their heart. Therefore before a child reaches the years of understanding and I’m talking about a professing home and it is a big mistake and some people think that God is going to bring them up, God will not bring your children up. He may start dealing with them, yes and especially when they come to the years of understanding and that is your responsibility to make sure they obey you so the father that they cannot see so when they come to the years of understanding so it will be easier for them to obey the father they cannot see, the Father in heaven. So it is a great responsibility that we have both in the harvest field and in the home life and it all comes down to this matter of obeying the word of God and the word of God is here and it must get into our hearts and we would like to be faithful and being exercised and being obedient.

Ezekiel had a tough lot really and God sent him to these rebellious people and the Lord tried to encourage Ezekiel and God said, “But thou O son of man, behold they shall put bands upon thee and shall bind thee with them and thou shalt not go out among them; and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb and shalt not feed to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee I will open thy mouth.” That is something I long to have and that I can stand up here and make up a nice story and if the words don’t come from the Lord it will stop in the roof of my mouth. That something us here both sides of the platform and it is a major concern that we would get a message from the Lord and the words would be accompanied by the Holy Spirit. May God help us. Amen.