“Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the lord. 31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32And, 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. 33And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (Eze. 33:30-33).
In this text, God’s people were hearing, but they were not doing. God said He was going to lay the land desolate (vv. 28-29), and many would die of pestilence (v. 27). Because of these punishments, the children of Israel would know that Jehovah was God (v. 29), and they would know that a true prophet of Jehovah had been among them (v. 33).
The people’s disobedience to God was not from a lack of knowledge and/or hearing of the will of God. Ezekiel had faithfully prophesied the word of the Lord to them. As God said to Ezekiel, “They hear thy words, but they will not do them” (Eze. 33:31). They heard and knew God’s will, but they simply refused to obey it. God goes on to say, “With their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (33:31). These people professed love to God with their mouths, but their hearts were certainly not right in the sight of God. God even tells Ezekiel that he (Ezekiel) is like mere entertainment to them, pleasing to their ears, for they hear him and go their way, ignoring the message from God. What a terrible situation in which to find the very people who are supposed to be God’s faithful! They were the ones who were supposed to represent God to the world, and they were ignoring the teachings and warnings from the very One whom they supposedly served. But, God left this warning at the end of chapter 33: “And when this [the pestilence and desolation, ccd] cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (v. 33).
Today, we often see the same problem among those professing to be God’s people (and often among those who are God’s people). The text in Ezekiel 33:31 reminds this writer of Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:8: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Notice Jesus’ statement immediately following: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (15:9). Hearing God’s Word is not enough if we do not put what we hear into practice. How many people will be lost on the Day of Judgment, not from ignorance of God’s Word, but from failure to put what they heard into action? Let us ever be mindful of the words of James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” May we also remember the inspired words penned by the apostle Paul, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13). Friends and brethren, I doubt that anyone reading this article is having a shortage of hearing the Word of God. But, is the Word being obeyed? Read Matthew 7:24-27. Both of these men heard the word of the Lord; the difference was only that one heard and obeyed. Are you going to be wise or foolish? The choice is yours.
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24-27).
[Article written by Chad Dollahite, taken from Bremen Church of Christ (Bremen, GA) bulletin]