Hearers, but not doers: Ezekiel 33

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Today’s reading: Ezekiel 31-33.

“Honey, what did the pastor preach about last week? I know it was a really good sermon, but I can’t remember what he said.”

Ezekiel acted out many of his messages, so I bet they were more memorable than spoken sermons. Today’s verses suggest that the prophet may have sung and played an instrument as well. Despite all his efforts, God revealed the depressing news that the exiles weren’t really absorbing Ezekiel’s lessons.

“As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. Ezekiel 33:30-32

See if you can recognize yourself or your church in any of the practices of Ezekiel’s congregation:

  • They came for music more than the message.
  • They came for entertainment rather than for worship.
  • They were distracted by other concerns, motivations, and priorities.
  • They listened to God’s word but didn’t do it.

God’s word is meant to be life-changing. Jesus saw the lack of life-change in his audience as well. He told the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock, and the foolish man who built his house in the sand of a dry river bed. Hard rain fell on both men, but only the house built on the rock withstood the storm. The difference? The wise man heard God’s word and obeyed it. His work of building was harder to begin with, but he laid an indestructible foundation.

James also knew the problem of people who didn’t live according to God’s word. He compared them to people who look in a mirror (God’s revealing word) and then walk away and forget what they look like (forgetting how God wanted them to live). James said the man who disregarded God’s word deceived himself, while the man who kept God’s word was blessed.

Some people come to church for the tradition, some for the socializing, and some for the emotional lift it gives them. When you go to church this week, make sure you go prepared to worship. And make sure you let God’s word change your life. Don’t just listen to the sermon. Think about it, talk about it, remember it, and apply it.

Image by Andres Por on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0

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4 thoughts on “Hearers, but not doers: Ezekiel 33

  1. One of the things I have come to love about the Mass is how it not only prepares you to worship, but it is itself an organic worship experience.

    You enter the sanctuary in silence. You touch holy water and make the sign of the cross, recounting any and all references to water: your own baptism, the baptism of the Lord, the parting of the Red Sea, the flood, water issuing from the side of the Savior. You quietly take a seat. There is no chit chat, no polite pleasantries, no gossip. None. Your thoughts are only on Him. Then you get on your knees, literally. You open your heart to the Lord. Then you sit back. More silence. A bell rings. You are ready. You are not there to just listen to the service, you ARE the service.

    And you are keenly aware that you are not alone. He is there. Body, blood, soul, and divinity. He is there, as He promised He would be.

    This “ritual” has been handed down through the centuries, much of it hardly changed. And it occurs to me its form may actually have a function.

    So your advice is good: hear it, live it.

    • You describe how essential it is that we come to the service with a prepared heart. Whether it’s a mass, or liturgical Protestant service, or contemporary service, all can aid worship but none will cause worship by themselves. That takes the Holy Spirit and a prepared heart.

  2. Pingback: Bible Daily Devotional – Ezekiel 33 – Hearers, but not doers | ChristianBlessings

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