“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.”
Ezekiel 33:32, 33
The response Ezekiel received from his listeners was not wholly unlike the reception faithful preachers sometimes experience today. The people spoke openly about their interest in the messages from God, but they had no intention of obeying God’s Word. To the listeners, Ezekiel’s warnings were “unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument.” The people were entertained by the act of preaching, as many are in our generation. They do not mind attending preaching and even find it somewhat enjoyable. However, the Scripture says of them, “they hear thy words, but they do them not.” They were not at all compelled to obey the commands of Scripture, or to take seriously the personal application of the message to their individual lives.
This lack of response and absence of desire, to receive the Word of God as it should be, can be a cause of great disappointment and frustration to the God-called preacher. How is it that those who should be challenged and changed by the message of God’s Word are virtually unaffected? Somehow the message does not impact them. In order for this to happen, there has to be a serious spiritual problem in the life of the listener. For the majority, they are probably not saved, never truly born of the Spirit of God. They have no capacity to receive spiritual food and direction. There are others who have deliberately chosen to resist God’s truth in their hearts. Their hearts are stubborn and unwilling to repent and correct the error of their way.
The most sincere preacher or teacher does not have the ability to change a person’s heart or attitude toward the message. Each individual chooses how he will respond to God’s Word. For Ezekiel, God said that when these things occur, “then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.” Our commitment is to be the most sincere and effective communicators of truth we can be. Whether they hearken to our message or not, our responsibility is to faithfully give them the clear message from the Word of God.