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Worship Theme: The Lord Provides Witnesses Who Proclaim His Word

Sermon Theme: Be a Hardheaded Herald

What does God mean when he says he will make you hardheaded? He’s going to make you hardheaded so that you can be a faithful messenger. Based on Ezekiel 2:9-3:11 let’s explore this unique calling as we look at what it means to “be a hardheaded herald.” July 3, 2022.

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There comes a time in every toddler’s development and growth that they reach the perfect height to crack their head on everything. They are too tall to walk under a table without bumping their head. They catch the corner of the countertop. They bang their head on the low hanging bars at the playground. It’s the age where parents are constantly on the lookout for these low-hanging dangers and quickly reaching out to buffer the collision or redirect the child’s path.

My son was one of those children who seemed to crack his head on everything. In fact, my wife and I told people they could get him a helmet when they asked about a birthday gift for him. We were serious! But to his credit, he had a hard head. He would crack his head on something, bounce right back up and keep on going; he was hardly phased. I think he had a bit of a hardheaded attitude too – a little stubborn and not easily deterred.

Being able to get hit in the head and bounce back up, along with a slightly stubborn, not easily deterred attitude are qualities that are important for Christians too. Doesn’t that sound like strange qualities for a Christian?? Well get this. Not only are they important, but God says he will make you hardheaded. He’s going to make you hardheaded so that you can be a faithful messenger. Today we’ll explore this unique calling as we look at what it means to be a hardheaded herald.

Ezekiel was a prophet from the Old Testament at around 600 BC. It was during the time when Israel was overcome by the Babylonians and carried away from their homeland to live as exiles. In today’s reading, God tells us that the people of Israel at that time were hard headed and hard hearted. They were described as people who were rebellious, unwilling to listen, obstinate, unyielding, and hardened. No wonder God allowed them to be overcome! Do you know what God wanted Ezekiel to do? God called on him to go and to be a messenger to those hardheaded people. “Go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.”

If that sounds like that was going to be a hard job to do, you’re right. God even admitted this to Ezekiel. “The people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate.” Just imagine what Ezekiel must have been thinking, “Are you serious, God? You want me to go preach to people who have stubbornly rejected you and won’t listen to a word you have to say let alone what I’ll say? Right…” But here you see the heart of God – he longed to have these people return to him. He would reach out to them even though they probably wouldn’t listen. You see how long God’s patience is – Israel was already receiving the consequence of their sins. They were deep in their sin and unbelief. Yet God kept chasing after them. So, he sent Ezekiel to them and equipped him with a hard head. “I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.” God gave Ezekiel the strength and courage necessary to be his messenger to a less than receptive people.

I think that it’s always been pretty clear, and yet, even more so over the last few weeks, that there are some drastically different views about the Bible and Christianity. Whether it’s issues regarding life or abortion, human sexuality and marriage, honor for government, or whatever the issue might be, there are many who vehemently oppose God’s Word found in the Bible and don’t want to hear what it has to say. So having a conversation with hardheaded unbelievers from a biblical standpoint or sharing your faith with them seems like banging your head against the wall. It only hurts and you get nowhere.

You know those people. They are your family and friends who want nothing to do with Christianity, who don’t want to hear what you have to say about the Bible, who don’t care what some old book has to say about how they should live their lives. “What gives you the right to tell me how to live?” It’s people who want to walk with Jesus but only if he goes down the path they choose. People today can be just as hardheaded and hardhearted as the Israel was. Yet, God wants to use you as a messenger of his grace to them, even if they don’t listen.

Yet, what often happens when you come across hardheaded people? I’ll admit, I find myself wanting to avoid the hard conversation. If I know someone’s not going to agree with me, I won’t broach the topic. You don’t want to come under attack, or feel uncomfortable, or have to defend yourself, or even waste your time. So, you say nothing. We let emotion and feelings overwhelm us. We hide our faith. We hide our God.

When you don’t speak the truth of God’s Word, both in words and Christ-like actions, how will the world know God? If you don’t have the hard conversation, then your friend caught up in sin will never know that there is another path, a path of free and full forgiveness. If you don’t share the reality of the living and present God in your life, then your daughter may go through the darkness of trials thinking she is all alone and abandoned. If you don’t love your stubborn neighbor with selfless, Christ-like love, then they may never know that there is a Savior who selflessly sacrificed him for their eternal rescue and life. I know, they may not listen, because they are hardheaded. But God calls on you to be just as hardheaded about sharing your faith.

So be hardheaded. However, don’t be hardheaded in that you are arrogant and condescending to others. Be hardheaded in the way that you are convinced by the power of God’s Word through the working of the Holy Spirit that God’s Word is truth. Be stubborn that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Be hardheaded in the way that you are not easily moved or swayed by temptations and threats so that your faith can’t be broken or that you’re not made to give up on sharing God’s truth by someone else’s rejection.

God will empower you to be a hardheaded herald. Here’s how he does it. He first stretches his hand out to you with a scroll that he says to eat. That doesn’t mean that you should tear out some pages of the Bible in front of you and start chewing them up. Please don’t do that! But just like when you eat food it becomes a very part of your being, so too take in God’s Word. Digest it in your heart and soul that it may be a very part of you in order to strengthen your faith and to nourish your spiritual life. You’ve probably heard it said that you are what you eat. It has the idea that if you want to be healthy and fit, you need to eat good healthy food. You are what you eat spiritually too. If you’re timid in sharing God’s word, if you feel weak in your faith, and you don’t feel very prepared to respond to challenges, then eat more of God’s Word and the Lord will strengthen you. Take in that you are a forgiven child of God to live a new life today and when you slip, you can come back to Jesus where he will pick you up with his loving forgiveness.

The scroll that God gave to Ezekiel to eat had the bitter words of lament, mourning, and woe. But yet it tasted sweet to Ezekiel. My kids love the candy, Sour Patch Kids. They are a fruit flavored type of soft and chewy candy that starts out sour, but finishes sweet. God’s Word is kind of like Sour Patch Kids. His commands and his law taste pretty sour. Having to tell someone they are sinning and doing wrong before God is a sour task. But it turns sweet when the sinner hears and knows the grace of God and the forgiveness that is theirs because Jesus paid the eternal price for the sinner’s punishment. To be a herald of God and to share the message of sin and grace in order to bring the sinner to repentance and life with God is a sweet tasting privilege and joy.

Just as God sent Ezekiel to be a hardheaded herald, he sends you. But there are a couple of huge points that you need to understand and remember. God sends you out to proclaim his Word. “Go… and speak my words to them.” “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” You simply get to be the messenger. The person you share it with may not like it, but it’s not because of you. You don’t need to come up with your own twist on morality or philosophy or opinion on life, just share what God sets before you in his Word. Get to know it and proclaim it boldly.

Second, the results are not dependent on you. God was pretty clear to Ezekiel that the people may not listen to him. But that wasn’t on Ezekiel. God is the one who has the power to break apart hearts, even the most hardened of hearts. Whether a person listens or fails to listen, God only calls on you to deliver his message of sin and grace.

What does this look like in a practical way? I know that many of you struggle with this very thing of having family and friends who won’t listen to God’s Word. Continue to show the right path to a rebellious child that if they one day realize that they are lost, they will know a path that goes through Jesus. Don’t be deterred to give up on your faith or to stop having the life-saving conversations about Jesus with your stubborn friend. One day God may open the door to the sweetness of the gospel. Don’t let the hardened co-worker move you to hide your trust in Jesus, but let the light of Christ shine and perhaps it will soften their lives.

In other words, be a hardheaded herald. You might get some bumps and bruises at the hands of those who stubbornly refuse to listen to God’s Word of truth. But may God give you a head and heart that bounces back up and is not deterred from sharing the eternal life that is yours because of your Savior Jesus that others too may know eternal life! Amen.

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