Ezekiel 11-12

All Talk, No Action. All Bark, No Bite.

“Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, ‘He’s talking about the distant future. His visions won’t come true for a long, long time.’ Therefore, tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No more delay! I will now do everything I have threatened. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’” – Ezekiel 12:27-28 NLT

We all know Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried wolf. It seems that this young was bored with his job as a shepherd, so to add a little excitement to his day, he would suddenly cry out, “Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!” The townspeople would run to his aid, only to find a grinning shepherd boy and no wolf. “Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!” They went grumbling back down the hill. But the shepherd boy continued his little game, crying out “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” To his delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away. Then one day, the unexpected happened. A real wolf showed up. But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t come. The next morning they found the shepherd boy weeping in the fields where his flocks once grazed. When they asked him what happened, he said, “There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, “Wolf!” Why didn’t you come?”

I can’t help but think of this story when I read these two chapters in Ezekiel. We have to remember that God had been warning His people about coming judgment for some time now. The prophets of God had consistently and persistently warned them about what God was going to do. But from their perspective, not much had happened. They had interpreted God’s delay as inaction. To them, the prophets had become like the boy who cried wolf. And their response? “Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy, when there’s no wolf!” They even had a proverb in Israel that said, “The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing” (Ezekiel 12:22 NLT). As each day passed without judgment taking place, the people became increasingly complacent and callous to the message of the prophets. God was not going to act. Nothing was going to happen. These guys were all bark and no bite. Or were they? God commands Ezekiel to tell them, “I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it. Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: ‘The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!’” (Ezekiel 12:23 NLT).

How many times do we discount the warnings of God because they don’t ever seem to come true? How often have we read these stories about the wrath of God and His hatred for sin, but simply discount them and assume that they’re just Old Testament stories about a God who was short-tempered and lacking in love. We prefer the God of the New Testament. The God of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. But we fail to recognize that God is unchanging. He still hates sin. He still warns His people about the dangers of unfaithfulness and idolatry. He constantly reminds us that there are consequences for our sins. But when we see nothing happen, when we appear to get away with our indiscretions and infidelity, we stop listening. Like the villagers in Aesop’s fable, we think God is just crying wolf. He isn’t going to do anything. He’s all talk, no action. He all bark, no bite. And that is a very dangerous assumption to make.

Father, You’ve given us these stories as a warning and a reminder. You have not changed. You still hate sin. You still plan to punish evil and deal with those who love injustice. Help us to see that You will do what You have said You will do. You will act. You are not just talking to hear Your own voice. Your words have meaning and significance. Your warnings carry weight. You deserve our undivided attention. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men