Bitterness at the Call of God

Sometimes we can become stubborn as a mule when it comes to following God!


  Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the LORD rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days.
(Ezek. 3:12–15 NRSV)


Ezekiel had an amazing experience in the presence of God but now, his presence in the throne room of God was coming to an end. He, himself, was a stubborn Israelite, being drawn into a role as God’s prophet. Communion with God had been sweet, but now he was returned to the exiles, to dwell there among those with whom he had been living previously. However, Ezekiel knew that things were going to have to be different, and he wasn’t real happy about what he knew would lie ahead. 

It’s interesting that Ezekiel records his own feelings in this text. Actually, he records his emotions a number of times in his prophetic words. He was, at times, a reluctant partner in God’s kingdom work. Now, he is bitter and spends seven days in stunned silence. He is needing time to contemplate this divine imposition and what it will mean for the remainder of his life. He had been a willful participant in the obstinacy of Israel. He recognized that God’s commission on his life would change everything, including the way in which he would be able to live his life. God’s requirements would necessitate him distancing himself from the friends and settings in which he had earlier been so comfortable. 

The hand of God was heavy on Ezekiel and ultimately, he knew how he would need to respond. We can appreciate his honesty, that he was bitter at the call of God on his life. We can only speculate that his seven days of silence was a time of contemplation and recognition that he was being set apart in service to God and for his people. Ultimately, he did not allow his bitterness to overtake his life and he gave himself over in complete service to God. This is the commissioning of Ezekiel. 


There are times when we all wrestle with the call of God on our lives. We may all be called to different walks of service, not necessarily in vocational ministry, and yet, all of God’s children are called to live and serve the Lord faithfully. There may be times when we sit in bitterness at the call because it doesn’t always feel good. We have to weigh the ramifications of the call because it may cost us more than we are wanting to pay. 

In some parts of the world Christianity has been quite readily accepted and encouraged. It hasn’t necessarily cost followers of Christ very much to stand up and express their faith. Living as a believer hasn’t looked much different than life in the world. However, the world is changing and in some places where it has seemed easy, there may be greater and greater challenge to faith. At the same time, there have always been places where following Christ is a life-threatening venture. 

No matter where we live, or what we do, we may find ourselves sitting with Ezekiel and feeling bitter about the call to serve God in this word. Reality begins to sink in when we contemplate the implications of the call and we realize that everything may need to change. 

Sitting in silence for the seven days with Ezekiel we may want to take time to consider:

  1. That our calling comes from God alone and has nothing to do with our natural gifts and abilities. It is the one who calls us who will define the task for which we are responsible. We have to learn to trust that the outcome is in God’s hands. 
  2. Ezekiel had been given the gift of seeing the throne room of God. He knew who it was that was sending him into this mission. You and I need to have a clear view of the one who is doing the sending and this should send us to our knees. It is the Creator of all things who is giving us the privilege of representing the kingdom of God here on earth. 
  3. That we need the power which only comes through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. 
  4. That words we speak and the messages we share must be inspired by God. This is not something that we have just heard, but has been internalized so that the messenger may actually becomes the message. 
  5. That God will equip us commensurate with our calling. God doesn’t ask us to go and do something without providing us that which we need to accomplish the work. 
  6. All God’s people are called to faithfulness, and not success. 
  7. That if God has truly called us, there is no better place to be, but in the center of God’s leading. 

Bitterness didn’t last long in Ezekiel’s life as he moved into his role as a prophet. Sure, we may be stunned at times when God asks us to become engaged in something new and possibly frightening, but God goes with us. When we say “yes” to the call and allow God and others to nurture us in that call, then we are ready for the journey. It’s okay to embrace our emotions and take some moments to work through the challenges, but then, with God, we move on.


Lord, I want to know you and sense your hand of leading. May I find you in the stillness of time spent in your throne room. Amen.


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