Ezekiel’s Doomed Mission

Ezekiel's mission was doomed from the start. Why did the Lord tell him so?

October 24-30

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Ezekiel was a prophet who was called to preach to the Israelites. He was called at the same time as Jeremiah and Daniel. Jeremiah was in the courts of Jerusalem, Daniel was in the Babylonian court, and Ezekiel was among some of the exiles scattered throughout Babylon. Ezekiel was a prophet amongst refugees. 

Ezekiel’s mission call was interesting to me. He has a vision, and he sees the Lord. The Lord gives Ezekiel his calling during this vision.

Ezekiel 2:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.

So Elder Ezekiel gets called to serve amongst the Israelite people in Babylon. But Elder Ezekiel’s call also includes something else that I found fascinating. 

Ezekiel 3:7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

So I want you to imagine opening your mission call and reading, “Dear Elder/Sister So-and-so, You are called to *insert place*. They won’t listen to your message, but you’re called there anyway.”

Not only is it interesting that the Lord chooses to send missionaries where they will not be heeded, but it is also interesting to me that He chose to tell Ezekiel about it. 

Can you imagine how discouraging it would be to know that no one would listen to you? Why did the Lord choose to share that with Ezekiel ahead of time? Of all the things that the Lord chooses not to divulge ahead of time, why did he choose to share that particular fact?

There is a piece of me that wonders if Ezekiel asked some of these same questions to the Lord because the Lord expounds on His reasoning on two different occasions, both in chapter 3 and 33. 

Why was Ezekiel sent?

The reasoning behind sending Ezekiel to an unrepentant Israel finds its foundations in The Plan of Salvation.

Agency was one of the most critical ingredients in The Plan of Salvation. Without agency, we would have returned to the Lord exactly as we had left Him and there would have been no point in sending us in the first place. What good is a test if you can’t choose your own answers? 

A critical ingredient to agency is options. You can’t choose if there’s only one path to choose. The Lord had to give Israel a chance even if He knew the result. In order to remain as King of Heaven and Earth, God had to make sure that everyone received their fair chance. No one was sent down here as a side character. The Lord wanted the triumphant ending for all of us which meant He had to allow all of us to choose it voluntarily. There was no other way.

If the Lord would have cut corners, He would have ceased to be Lord and then all of us would have been in dire circumstances. 

This may seem dramatic, but it’s true.

And now I want you to look at the character of Ezekiel and his role in all of this. I believe that we, like Christ, were given a choice about what roles we would play here on earth. We didn’t have to agree to any roles given to us, and beyond that, I believe that we volunteered for some of these roles.

What does this say about Ezekiel and his premortal spirit?

We are all up in heaven together before coming down. The various responsibilities are laid out before us. Some of those responsibilities include preaching to people who will reject the gospel and the prophet that comes with it. That is not a fun role to volunteer for or to even accept, but it was a role that needed to be accomplished. It is not a glorious role. It is not flashy. It is not particularly rewarding. In fact, it’s probably really depressing. 

But Ezekiel agreed to it (if not volunteered). He didn’t need to be hailed as some great missionary-prophet. He simply wanted to do the will of the Lord and help The Plan of Salvation remain intact. 

Why did the Lord tell Ezekiel ahead of time?

So it’s all fine and dandy that Ezekiel agreed to the role, but why didn’t the Lord at least allow him to have a little bit of hope for a little while? Why not let Ezekiel believe that he will make a difference among his people? It would certainly make the job easier. There probably would have been a point when Ezekiel realized nothing would change, but couldn’t he have lived with the hope for a little bit?

Obviously we can’t really guess the Lord’s reasoning behind telling Ezekiel that his mission was doomed to “failure.” There could be all sorts of details in this story that we are completely unaware of. However, despite the fact that we can’t assume His reasoning, we can make conjectures about what Ezekiel might have learned while doing his assigned work. 

One. The Lord never promised worldly glory for doing His work, and worldly glory is not an indicator of righteousness. I think sometimes we look at Ammon and his fellow missionaries and we applaud their immense righteousness. We are blown away at their faith and sacrifice. Please note that I do not diminish the sacrifices they made. Those were incredible men with repentant hearts and loads of faith. For a long time, they fought an uphill battle with the Lamanites. But I want to point out the fact that missionary work is hardest when no one is listening. When you’re having loads of people rushing the baptismal font, missionary work will fill you to the brim with happiness. You will (hopefully) feel humbled and floored that the Lord would allow you to be a part of His work. On the flip side, when everyone is rejecting you (and possibly even hurting you), it is agonizing to keep going out. Perhaps that is why the Lord had to remind Ezekiel a second time about how essential his work was even if it was “in vain.” Ezekiel would receive no accolades on earth for the sacrifices he made, but I know that what he is experiencing now surpasses what he could have hoped for while he was still on earth.

Two. Perhaps Ezekiel learned just how much his soul could stretch. Even if Ezekiel went out everyday and knocked doors with his warnings, it would not have done anything for him unless he put his heart into it. Now imagine that uphill battle. Imagine knowing they would reject you but also knowing the Lord expected you to put your heart into it regardless. It would not be enough to stand on a soapbox in the middle of the street, yell a warning, and then shrug your shoulders and be done with this rebellious group of people. Imagine having to go beyond going through the motions. Ezekiel had to invest his heart even though he knew it would get broken.

Which leads me to my last point. Three. Ezekiel had to choose to get his heart broken. He had to choose to love these people who didn’t want to be saved, and that sucks. I can’t really think of another word to place there. I mean, that really blows. I wonder if Ezekiel kept pleading, “Lord, is it enough? Can I be done yet? This is so hard.”

Maybe there came a point when the Israelites had been warned enough. Maybe they had received their chance to accept the gospel to the extent that the Lord required, and maybe the Lord still required Ezekiel to go out. Not for them, but for himself. 

When Ezekiel had been stretched to his limit, when he didn’t know whether his heart could handle another day of loving a damned people, maybe the Lord still wanted him to go out anyway.

Why do I think this might have happened?

Because one of the most essential lessons we can learn in this life is that Christ is the only true hope.

When there was no way to carry on loving and when Ezekiel was tired of the torment, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ezekiel learned that the atonement of Jesus Christ (along with all of its beautiful implications) was something that he could lean on for rest. 

Even when there is no happy ending in sight, a belief in the Savior and His atonement can bring hope. When everything else gets taken away, that’s when you learn the true power of the atonement. There isn’t really another way to find that. We have to be stripped of all the other worldly securities we find in life and that is where we will find that we don’t need anything but Christ and His atonement.

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