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July 12, 2012

A Prophet Represents The Full Mind Of God

Many aspire to be prophets or messengers of God. Ezekiel is one prophet who many would want to emulate. His visions and prophecies were clear and vivid. God described him as a watchman on the walls of the city of Jerusalem. He was trained to be a priest and not a prophet. He lived through the darkest time of his nation in captivity. He even suffered the pain of the death of his wife (and was told by the Lord not to mourn as the death depicted the state of his nation . Ezek24:15-24).
Ezekiel 3:10-11 The people may not listen
10 Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. 11 And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.”
Ezekiel 24:15-24 The Prophet’s Wife Dies
15 Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 16 “Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.
18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.
 Excerpts from the book "The Persistent Purpose of God" by T. Austin-Sparks

A Prophet Represents The Full Mind Of God

Now let us look at the prophet himself. You know that Ezekiel did not begin by being a prophet. Ezekiel was a trained priest and not a prophet. You notice verse three of chapter one tells us that. And then at the beginning, verse one refers to "the thirtieth year": "Now it came about in the thirtieth year" - the thirtieth year was most probably the thirtieth birthday of Ezekiel. It was at the age of thirty that the priests finished their training and entered upon their ministry. You remember that it was when the Lord Jesus was thirty years of age that He entered upon His ministry. His preparation was finished and His ministry began. So, at the age of thirty, Ezekiel ought to have commenced his priestly ministry; but instead of fulfilling his ministry as a priest, he was called to be a prophet. His whole life and training and vocation were changed.
A prophet is one "who represents the full Mind of God when that Mind has been lost." It is impressive to note that Ezekiel had to take up something altogether different from that for which he was trained. The situation which existed required that. We shall come back on that again later.
Now when God moves in relation to His full Mind - which has been lost amongst His people - there are always things essential in the instrument of His movement. And if this is going to be done, it is only God Who can do it! You know the course of men is quite different from that. The way of men is to take men and train them and make them able to do the work, so that when they come out of the college, or the Bible institute, they feel that they are equipped for the work; and now, of course, they can do it. They have been trained for it. However, Ezekiel was not qualified for his work. He was qualified to be a priest, and he was called to be a prophet. And what we find is that all through his life, he never found it easy. You see how difficult Ezekiel found his work: he realized that it was only by the help of God that he could fulfill his ministry.
We all have to begin there if we are really going to minister in heavenly things. There has to be this tremendous change where we come to realize that we cannot do this work of ourselves. Only the Lord can do it. There was this great sense of disappointment with things as they were, the overpowering sense that things were wrong, and this state of things had to be made the business of Ezekiel's life. You will have to begin there if you are really going to be used of God. You will have to be overwhelmed with the sense that things are all wrong in this world, that things are not as they ought to be, and that you have no ability to put them right. You sense that God has called you to this, and that your ability to do anything must come from God Himself.
That is where we begin with Ezekiel, and, of course, we take the spiritual principles as we go along. I think I need not go back over that ground. There is a breakdown in things, they are not as God intended them to be. God calls men and women in relation to this situation, and the call changes the whole course of their lives. And in the call is the consciousness that they have no ability in themselves to meet the situation. But God, Who has called them, will be their sufficiency. I have read the first three chapters of Ezekiel into what I have just said.
Let us take one little fragment out of these chapters, which is the commission of Ezekiel: "Son of man, I send thee not to a people of a strange language, whose language you do not understand. If I sent you to them, they would listen. But I send you to the house of Israel. They will not hear you." (Ezekiel 3:4-7; paraphrased). That is a difficult commission, and only the Lord could carry a man through that. But then notice what the Lord says as to Divine equipment: "...I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads" (Ezekiel 3:8). In other words, the Lord is going to be the strength of this difficult work.
Ezekiel Saw What The Lord Wanted
Then we notice another thing. With this sense of disappointment, this whole change in the course of life, this having to take a way for which there was not natural equipment, there goes this second great factor: "Ezekiel saw the Lord." He was given a vision of the Lord, a vision of what the Lord wanted. Now it is very important that these two things that I have just mentioned always go together. If we have disappointment and dissatisfaction without vision, that is negative. There are plenty of people who are dissatisfied with things as they are. They are the people who can always see what is wrong. They can point their finger at the weaknesses and the faults; they are experts in criticizing everything. That is negative, that does not get us anywhere. With dissatisfaction, there must go vision. But vision must rest upon travail. Vision without travail and suffering of heart is mere mysticism. These two things, vision with travail and suffering of heart, must go together. If you or I feel dissatisfied, and feel that things are all wrong, we ought to be in possession of the knowledge of what the Lord really does want. We ought to have a positive vision of the purpose of God.
Now I want to stop here and say a word to you. Let us read these first verses in Ezekiel:
Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's exile, the Word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans... and the hand of the Lord came upon him (me).
I want to say a word at this point to you about ministry. You notice that what Ezekiel was about to do had a special date for its beginning. It is very impressive how particular Ezekiel is about dates in his prophecies. If you really read through these prophecies, you will see that he is very particular about dates. That gives us our first point for ministry. A minister according to God's Mind must have a message for the time. It will not do for us to be giving out things just in a general way. Our Bible teaching must not be just of a general character. What God needs more than anything are those who have a message for the present hour. When we have finished our life, and our ministry, it ought to be possible for it to be said of us that we had a message for our time, that we were not just one in the general mass of teachers but that we had God's Word for the hour - that our ministry related to a special time in the purpose of God.
Now you servants ask the Lord to make that true of you, that it can be recognized that your ministry relates to the present time - WHAT GOD WANTS TO DO NOW. That is a very important factor in ministry. What does God need at this time? We must pray that we shall be the Lord's instrument for the present time - that there shall be a very clearly defined time factor in our ministry. So the date is a very important thing in ministry. When God really raises up servants, He raises them up for a time. 
Ezekiel Was Raised Up In Relation To The Situation
And then the next thing to note: Ezekiel was raised up in relation to the special situation at that time. What we have just read shows that Ezekiel was right there in the situation: "...I was among the captives by the river of Chebar." (ASV). Ezekiel was not preaching to a situation that was distant from himself. He was not preaching to a situation that he had imagined to exist. He was not preaching to a situation that had been reported to him to exist. He was right in that situation. He was in the closest personal touch with the need. The need was his need; he was put right into the heart of the situation, and his ministry came out of that. He said: "I sat where they sat." And that takes ministry out of the realm of the merely theoretical and puts it into the very practical.
You will notice that this was true of all the prophets. They did not speak to the Lord about the Lord's people as THEY - "THEY are in this situation; THEY have done these things; THEY have these needs." The prophets always spoke to God, "WE are in distress." Read the prayer of Nehemiah in chapter one at verse 2-11, and read the prayer of Daniel in chapter nine at verse 3-19. They were a part of the situation. And for you and I to be effective servants, we must be there.
The Word Came Expressly To Ezekiel
And then the third thing: this ministry has to be very personal. You notice what it says in chapter one, verse three: "The Word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest." That means TWO things. Firstly, it means that Ezekiel did not get his ministry out of books. He did not fulfill a second-hand ministry. His ministry was not the result of study. This came to him personally. These visions of God were his own. His message was original and not second-hand. It must be like that. Our ministry must be like that: it must be the result of something that God has said to us personally.
Secondly, the meaning of the Word of the Lord which came expressly to Ezekiel is that THERE WAS AN URGENCY ABOUT IT. You know the meaning of that word, "expressly." You speak about an express train. Well, what do you mean by an express train? One that must get there quickly, it is very urgent. You remember the word of the Apostle Paul: "...the Spirit speaketh expressly" (1 Timothy 4:1; KJV) - there is urgency about this! "The Word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel." There is something very urgent about this. You have got to get there as soon as you can. There is very serious business on hand. All your energy must be concentrated upon this object. That is how it has got to be with us. There has got to be a tremendous urgency about our message. There are very great issues at stake. I would say to you one thing before you deliver your message. Stop and say to yourselves: "What is God's Mind for His people - because you are going to influence lives, PERHAPS, FOR ALL TIME AND ALL ETERNITY." 
(excerpts from Austin Sparks)

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