(30) And you, son of man, the children of your people are still talking about you by the walls, and in the doors of the houses, and speaking to one another, each man to his brother, saying, 'I pray you, come and hear what is the word which comes forth from the LORD.' (31) And they come to you as the people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words. But they will not do them. For with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. (32) And lo, you are to them as a singer of love songs with a beautiful voice, and able to play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. (33) And when this comes to pass; (behold, it will come) then they shall know that a prophet has been among them."
Ezekiel is saying that really, people love to be entertained, and when it comes to the message, they enjoy speaking especially if they appreciate the speaker himself and his style of speaking. Perhaps a great deal of lighthearted humour, clever manipulation of words that entices an audience to entertain throughout their sermons, as a stand-up comedian, or what is the "pick of the day" in style and delivery. Yes, one can have a great time at church.
The prophet describes it like going to a concert: atmosphere, good music, elation, but after the music stops everybody leaves, what is the lasting effect?
Let us look at the message of God, the coming together of fans, of believers, of all those passionate for Him. Our LORD says that is how His people treat Him. They have a desire to hear what God has to say, but they want to be entertained more than instructed.
In Ezekiel's day, they wanted to see the prophet of the day do extreme actions to amplify the extraordinariness of God. For instance, for a prophet to lie down on his side for 390 days was one expectation, and stranger things could happen when he was about to speak. A Carnival atmosphere. Theatrics. Unusual pulls to draw the crowds. One thing people did not make the connection of the day was that what Ezekiel did portrayed what God would in fact do to Israel. God used the spectacle.
Ezekiel might have been a gifted speaker too: "hell-fire and brimstone sermons" for people to feel totally wrung out at the end, beaten up, reshaped and set straight. I read somewhere that in the worst of sermons is a jewel to take home. What kind of standards have we set to make such a comment? We are all part of the body of Christ. The Word spoken or written, delivered by whoever and read regardless of the temperature and season, should be received as the Spirit leads.
So what are we doing: are we seeking satisfaction for ourselves? Are we having an itch scratched? What are our motivations? Do we think the sermons at one particular place are better than at another particular place just because the speakers happen to be more polished? Louder? Anointed? Gifted? Confident?
Our focus should be on Him. Get your eyes off the display and on Him. Quiet your ears to the tantalisings of the current day, Hear Him.
Be near Him.