“Is it to inquire of me that you come? ()” While studying the book of Ezekiel this question leapt off the page at me and seared my conscience. I wanted to press forward but the weight of the question was just too much. It had to be answered. There is a great need for the Church to answer this question with sincerity and conviction. Let us pursue the answer together.
Before we can begin to answer this question correctly we need to make sure we are hearing it correctly within the context of revealed Scripture. Ezekiel was addressing the elders of Israel in the face of cataclysmic circumstances. The nation of Israel had been occupied, in increasing degrees, by the Babylonian army for nearly two decades. Every political leader and promising social figure had been carried into captivity almost ten years earlier. What was left was a shell of a nation with multiple puppets in leadership whose strings were pulled by Babylon.
In the previous twelve chapters Ezekiel had been proclaiming the coming doom of ultimate destruction. Israel would be completely captive to a foreign power and the Promised Land would be reduced to a collection of ruins and unattended fields. In the first four verses of chapter twenty Ezekiel addresses the elders’ pitiful attempts to inquire of the Lord.
For years Ezekiel had proclaimed a message of impending judgment in the absence of genuine contrition and repentance and for years the people of Israel had ignored him as an eccentric, half-crazy prophet who did not know what he was talking about (). However, the evidence had grown too great to ignore any longer and the leaders of Israel had begun to squirm in the face of coming judgment. In an effort to avoid discomfort, the elders attempted to “renegotiate” with God. They did not want to hear what He said. They wanted Him to change what He said.
It is that attitude that God addresses through the prophet when He refuses to hear them. He refuses to hear them because they have no desire to hear anything He has to say. All the elders wanted was to escape the punishment that they deserved with no sign of contrition or repentance.
Why Have You Come?
Why have you come before the Lord? Have you come to hear what He has to say through His Word or have you simply come so that you can have your preconceived ideas about life and morality confirmed? I fear that many people in the Church today are guilty of the same error as the elders of Israel. We may not be on the brink of national, or even personal, judgment to the degree that they were but the error is still very much present today.
You see the symptoms of this type of thinking in the way that people look for churches in which to serve and commune with other believers. The criteria for a “good” church is often quite revealing. Musical style (not lyrical content), a thriving children’s/youth program, friendly people, church size, or a particular affinity group are often the types of things that people look for when searching for a church home. These things are not wrong in themselves, but they become wrong when they are placed before the ability to encounter God through His Word.
But this questions presses itself into more of our lives than just the way in which we choose a church. It invades everything. Why do you study the Bible? Why do you pray? Why do you fast? Why do you worship? The temptation is to answer too quickly without examining our hearts. We must avoid that temptation and answer with honesty and integrity.
Answering the Question with Questions
Do you read the Scriptures to “get through” a lesson? Do you read it in order to gain knowledge? Do you read it out of obligation or self-imposed guilt? Do you read the Scriptures?
Do you attend worship merely out of habit? Do you come to worship expecting to have your needs met or to be entertained? Do you expect to hear from God or be transformed by His Word when you come? Do you attend worship?
Do you pray only for yourself? Do you only pray in order to get something from God? Do you pray?
Do you fast in order to manipulate God? Do you think that your fasting will win you favor with Him? Do you fast?
Admittedly, those are some pretty rough questions. In honestly answering them we begin to get an answer to the original question; “Is it to inquire of me that you come?” The elders of Israel did not really want to hear what God had to say to them. Do you?
How Do We Come to Inquire of Him?
It is one thing to ask yourself a tough question and give a tough answer. It is another thing entirely to move forward from that point. The elders of Israel could not face the facts and they would not move forward in the pursuit of God. Don’t make that mistake also. Let us move forward in righteousness together.
The first thing you must do is pray. That cannot be said with enough emphasis. Pray. When you pray take the time to marvel at the glory of God, not as an introduction to your asking for stuff. Just praise Him and stand in awe of His majesty. Stop reading and pray. That time on your knees is of infinitely more value than anything I can say in this space.
Now that you are done praying, make that the defining quality of your life. Be a person that is committed to God honoring prayer.
When you come to worship, ask yourself what will bring God the most glory in your actions, thoughts, and words. As you sing, sing to Him regardless of your talent or what others are doing or thinking. Pour yourself into the service.
Study God’s Word intently. Learn who He says He is and what He says He delights in. From the pages of Scripture develop a passionate love for your Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Do not simply read to learn facts about Him. Commune with Him through His inspired revelation as He speaks to you. Pursue Him through the truth of His Word and always ask yourself the question: “Am I coming to inquire of Him?”
3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God, Is it to inquire of me that you come? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you. (ESV)
21 And the word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord God.” (ESV)