In Ezek 33:30-33, people are coming to hear Ezekiel preach and they are hearing him. But they are not doing what the Lord is telling them to do.They didn’t hear because their heart goeth after their covetousness.
Likewise, today we are not talking to people who aren’t here. We’re talking to you just like Ezekiel was talking to them.
Notice some introductory observations about the passage.
v.30 “the word that cometh forth from the Lord”. They knew that these words of Ezekiel were the words of God. And you know that these words are God’s words. We’re preaching the word of God.
v.30 But they talk “against” Ezekiel. There is an opposition to the word he’s preaching. For example, Zedekiah wanted to hear the words of God from Jeremiah but he didn’t do them. Jer 37:16-17. Jer 38:14-19.
v.31 “they hear thy words, but they will not do them”. v.32 To them, he was like a person that hath a pleasant voice. They wanted to hear him like people want to listen to an orator or a musician. And for you, there is something about coming here that makes you feel good about yourself after you have done it. Sort of a religious exercise. BUT
They were already opposed to the words of God from the mouth of the preacher. They were going to listen but they weren’t going to do anything about the message. Some would say, “I’ll go to church but I’m not getting saved”. “I’ll go but I won’t change”. You don’t want to hear anything that crosses you or that might offend you. There is a resistance to the truth.
Their mouth showed much love, v.31. I’ve seen this in church before. Their private conversations about the preacher are in opposition to his preaching but their face indicates they are in favor of him. Do you see the hypocrisy?
Here’s the root problem, their heart goeth after their covetousness. Covetousness is the subject of this sermon.
To covet is to desire to obtain or possess something. In 1 Cor 12:31, Paul wrote, “covet earnestly the best gifts”. Used in the negative sense to covet is to desire that which is not good or lawful to obtain. In Ex 20:17 the law stated thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, wife, manservant , maidservant, ox, ass, or anything that is thy neighbour’s. It’s your neighbor’s, not yours.
Covetousness is wanting what I want rather than what God wants for me. Therefore, covetousness is idolatry, Col 3:5.
Covetousness is a terrible sin. When the devil was created with wisdom and beauty, he coveted riches, merchandise and fame. He wanted to be like God. He wanted to possess what was God’s. And he took possession of it. When men covet, they accumulate possessions like the devil did. These can destroy you. True riches are in wisdom, beauty of holiness, eternal life, etc., none of which can be obtained by covetousness.
Israel’s problem with covetousness was seen throughout their history.
They wanted to do that which was right in their own eyes rather than what the Judges commanded. Therefore, they were repeatedly attacked by foreign countries time after time.
They wanted a king to rule over them rather than God. But their king was cruel and took from them.
In Ezekiel’s day, they wanted to stay in their land rather than go into captivity. But the land needed to be desolate to rest. And so moving to Babylon was the right thing to do. Their refusal cost them their lives and their possessions.
Your trouble with covetousness is similar. You covet what you want not what God wants for you. You’re like a kite without a string. When the kite is disconnected from the string it falls to the ground. When you are disconnected from God’s will you fall. What if a train wanted to be free and run off the tracks. It would derail. Likewise, when you follow your covetousness, your life for the Lord will derail.
What do you covet that is keeping you from obeying the words of God? If you will let that thing go and draw closer to God, you will be astonished at the improvement in you life. As Israel failed through their covetousness, so you will fail through yours. So, let it go and trust the Lord, instead. His way is much better for you than what you are coveting.