Ezekiel Chapter 3: Ezekiel’s Commission

Nov 18th, 2009 | By | Category: Ezekiel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Ezekiel Chapter 3: Ezekiel’s Commission

Ezek. 3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.

Ezek. 3:2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.

Ezek. 3:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel was instructed to “eat” the scroll and then go speak to the house of Israel. God “caused” (helped) him to literally eat the scroll (like celery) until it was wholly consumed. While Ezekiel was eating, the scroll was sweet as honey in his mouth, but as it went into his belly, his bowels were filled with the message. The prophet both literally and mentally assimilated the message. He read, perceived, and thoroughly digested the scroll so that he could deliver a strong message to the house of Israel.

We are reminded of Revelation 10:8–11, where the John class is told to eat dispensational truth, which is sweet as honey in the mouth but then becomes bitter in the belly. In the near future, the feet members will have to give a strong message of truth to nominal Christendom, the theme being one of impending judgment—of lamentation, mourning, and woe. The coal in Isaiah’s mouth similarly purged and strengthened him (Isa. 6:6–8).

Why or how was the scroll sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth? Just as our appreciation of a sweet dessert is first apparent in the mouth, so Ezekiel, being a righteous man, liked the message when he first heard (ate) it. When we initially hear and come into present truth, we love the harmony and symmetry; we have an intellectual appreciation. Subsequently we realize the responsibility to consecrate. In order for us to get the full value, the mouth of our belly has to open—we must accept the responsibility of the truth and of consecration.

Back to Ezekiel’s experience and the sensation of sweetness in his mouth like honey. Prior to the “hard” message to come, Ezekiel was given a magnificent “sweet” vision of the glory of God (Chapter 1). Having chosen him to be a prophet to the Israelites, God opened his insight to things not humanly possible to discern, but there was a price to pay. A similar principle operates when we consecrate. For a time, we are favored with sunshine, gentle rain, nice grass, and comforting messages of the Kingdom, restitution, the high calling, etc. We need milk and nutriments to develop as a babe, but later on we find there is a cost to pay. We are given understanding to instill hope and encouragement, but we must also live a Christian life. As we mature, we are supposed to be Christian soldiers and fight battles. It is a fight of faith and a fight against powers and principalities. If we react favorably to these tests, they develop us and help to crystallize our characters.

Ezek. 3:4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.

Ezek. 3:5 For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel;

Ezek. 3:6 Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.

Ezek. 3:7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

The “people of a strange speech and of an hard language” for communicating were the Chaldeans. They were a tough people, but if Ezekiel had spoken to these barbarians, they would have accepted his message. The principle was the same when Jesus said to those of the Galilee area, “If the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had seen the miracles done here, they would have repented” (Matt. 10:15; 11:23,24). Thus we often find it difficult to communicate with those in Babylon, the professed nominal Church. Not only will they not listen, but they will not give us the opportunity to speak. Opposition will occur, and we must be prepared for  it. But there is another aspect too. The suggestion is that many of our trials may be closer to home. Such a trial could develop in the true Church, for nominalism can creep into our midst, and we will have experiences trying to combat that influence. Ezekiel was in the midst of the captives (the consecrated in antitype). They spoke the same language; hence they were not Babylonians.

God told Ezekiel in advance that the house of Israel would not listen, for they were all “impudent and hardhearted.” What a strong indictment! The vast majority (great and small) would not receive the message. However, there were individuals here and there who responded favorably to Ezekiel’s message.

Ezek. 3:8 Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.

Ezek. 3:9 As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.

Ezekiel’s face and forehead were made strong and harder than flint against the Israelites’ faces so that he would “fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks.” This suggests that the Israelites’ faces and foreheads were also hard (they were upset, angry, and displeased), but God made Ezekiel’s face and forehead even harder—like adamantine stone (such as the diamond) and thus harder than flint. He would be stern and unyielding in matters  of principle, and in the message he had to discharge, he would not be cowed or affected in the least by the reaction of the people.

Flint is inflexible. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had strong messages. In fact, all of the prophets had strong messages. Consider Ezra, for example. He must have been a forceful character to make the Israelites separate permanently, with no communication, from their heathen wives and children.

In fighting, the forehead plays a prominent part in goats, moose, and similar animals. A psychological warfare precedes the actual contact. In the favorable sense, the forehead is symbolic of intellectual understanding. The 144,000 will be sealed in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3,4).

In the unfavorable sense, the mark of the beast is in the forehead (Rev. 13:16,17). Thus the forehead is indicative of either boldness of sin or boldness of righteousness depending on whether it is used unfavorably or favorably.

Ezek. 3:10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.

Ezekiel was told to receive and hear all of God’s wordsno exceptions. He was to hear with his ears and receive into his heart everything God would tell him.

Ezek. 3:11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.

“Get thee to them of the captivity.” Ezekiel was already among captives by the river Chebar, but he was to go to other captives, to those of the larger ten-tribe captivity.

Ezek. 3:12 Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place.

Ezek. 3:13 I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.

Ezek. 3:14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.

Thus far Ezekiel was given a vision, a scroll with a message, and then a commission to deliver the message to those in captivity. Next “the spirit” lifted him up and took him to the other captives. In other words, he was literally translated to Tel-abib in Syria (verse 15). One of the living creatures seemed to transport him. (Compare Acts 8:39,40, where Philip was translated to Azotus.)

Not only was Ezekiel caught up in the Spirit and taken away, but he heard behind him “a voice of a great rushing,” that is, a sound of great rushing. He heard also “the noise of the wings of the living creatures” and “the noise of the wheels.” (The wings made noise when the cherubim were moving.) The voice said, “Blessed be the glory of the LORD.” Ezekiel heard behind him the sound of the chariot being lifted up from its place into heaven and about to operate. (The hand of the cherub that had given him the scroll could also have lifted him up in translation.)

As revealed in Chapter 1, “the spirit” of the cherubim was in the wheels. When the cherubim were lifted up by “the spirit,” or will of God, the wheels were also lifted up. The same spirit lifted up the cherubim, the wheels, and Ezekiel.

The prophet, greatly enthused, went with the vision while the message from the scroll was hot in his veins. He heard the sound of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another. This was a gentle sound of the wings kissing each other, as it were, showing perfect harmony between the Old and New Testaments. Next Ezekiel heard great activity of the wheels. The inner whirring wheel was discerned as operating. In other words, Ezekiel was there—it was a contemporaneous event; the experience was happening to him. The wheel made a tremendous noise like the revving up of a motor, yet the louder sound of the wheel was intermingled with the gentler sound of the wings kissing each other. Of course the wheels pertained to the plan of God, and now it was part of God’s plan for Ezekiel to deliver a hard message.

The revving up of the wheels had a counterpart effect in Ezekiel. Being stirred up, he went “in the heat” of his spirit to deliver the message. Lesson: We need God’s strength and grace to deliver an unpopular truth. As will be seen later, in the judgment message to be delivered to natural Israel, God foretold, through Ezekiel, the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. It would be a great judgment of lamentation, mourning, and woe. As the live representative of the Lord God, Ezekiel felt the emotion of the message of judgment. Hence he went in the“bitterness” and “heat” of his spirit.

The message “Blessed be the glory of the LORD” is a reminder of Revelation 4:8, where the four living beings rested not day or night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.”

God’s four attributes are always in harmony with His Word and with the time and order of His plan. The noise of the wings was His declarations, and the wheels showed the progress and development of His plan.

Ezek. 3:15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Ezekiel came to the other captives, who were on the same river Chebar but at Tel-abib, which was about 200 miles north of Babylon. Tel-abib (Tel Aviv) means “hill of green ears.” The Chebar was a tributary of the Euphrates River.

When the spirit translated Ezekiel from the site of the vision of the glory of God and set him down at Tel-abib, he sat down immobile, in a state of shock, for seven days. He had eaten (absorbed) the lamentation-mourning-woe message, and now it was his mission to broadcast the message among the captives. But before he could deliver the message, he sat like stone for seven days. He was so filled with emotion that he was silent and in meditation. The seven days of sitting are a reminder of Noah, who waited seven days in the Ark before the rains  came; the comforters of Job, who initially sat with him in silence for seven days; the consecration of the priesthood outside the Tabernacle door for seven days; and the silent circuitings of Jericho by Joshua and the Israelites until the seventh day (Gen. 7:4; Job 2:13; Lev. 8:35; Josh. 6:12–16).

It was helpful for the Israelites to see Ezekiel in this state, for they thus knew that something had happened. As the days passed, the people got more and more curious, for his condition attracted an audience. Hence God’s providence arranged that Ezekiel’s astonishment would attract attention and work for good.

Ezek. 3:16 And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

At the end of the seven days, the word of Jehovah came to Ezekiel. Verses 17–21 show that God appointed Ezekiel to be a watchman, and in that capacity, the prophet had a responsibility to two classes: to the wicked and to the righteous. Today the “righteous” are the consecrated, and the “wicked” are the world. Thus there is a double responsibility of witnessing.

Ezek. 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

God said, “Ezekiel, I have made you a watchman to Israel. Warn the people.” The seven days indicate the end of the age in antitype.

Ezek. 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

There is a responsibility to warn the wicked of their evil ways. God was telling Ezekiel (the Lord’s people): “Warn the wicked that they will die if they do not repent. If you do not warn them, you will die too.” Those who know us should know where we stand.

Ezek. 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

God continued to charge Ezekiel with the responsibility of warning: “If you warn the wicked and they do not repent, they will die in their sin, but you will live.” Like Noah, the consecrated are responsible for being preachers of righteousness, especially the leadership. The elders are to be watchmen; they are to warn the sheep and guard them when a wolf in sheep’s clothing is around. If Ezekiel (the elders) keep quiet, they will reap the same reward as those who require warning. God had already told Ezekiel the people would not listen, but he was to preach boldly regardless. (See Ezekiel 33:1–19.)

Ezek. 3:20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Ezek. 3:21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

These two verses suggest that a righteous element did exist in the disobedient mass, and the righteous were responsible. When Ezekiel warned them, they were to respond and obey. But whether they did or not, Ezekiel had to discharge his duty—or else he would be held accountable.

Many do not realize this is God’s principle. If the righteous turn to iniquity, they die. Much of man’s philosophy is mixed into religion today, even in the Truth movement. Brethren think of the works one has done as overriding gross sin. The works may have been commendable, but faithfulness is to be unto death. When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, his righteousness is forgotten (Ezek. 18:24).

The same principle is shown with one who took the Nazarite vow. If he subsequently became unclean, he had to cut off all the hair that had grown and start over again, for the uncleanness negated his past righteousness (Num. 6:1–9).

How does the Lord “lay a stumblingblock” before a righteous man? A test is put to the individual. All of the true Church of God must be tested. It is impossible to develop crystallization of character without testing. If the test is favorably received, it becomes a stepping-stone. If not favorably received, it becomes a stumbling stone. God does not tempt man with evil or for evil—that is not the motive. When a test arises, the responsibility is not with the Lord but upon the individual.

Ezekiel’s responsibility was to describe the nature of the test—how it would be a stumbling block—because many would not consider the test to be a stumbling block at all. The prophet had the responsibility to enlighten the righteous as to what the situation was. The righteous might not fully understand the issue or principle(s) involved, so Ezekiel had to instruct them as to what an action could lead to. Ezekiel represents the Christian. Therefore, the Christian who does not give the instruction or warning will suffer the same fate.

Ezek. 3:22 And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.

Ezek. 3:23 Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face.

Ezek. 3:24 Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.

God took Ezekiel out onto the plain, purposely separating him from the others, in order to give him a message and instruct him privately. There Ezekiel saw the same vision of the glory of God that he had seen by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 1). Again he fell on his face, but then the spirit entered into him (like electricity or power), setting him on his feet, and told him to go and confine himself in his house.

Ezek. 3:25 But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them:

Ezek. 3:26 And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

Who would “bind” Ezekiel? Probably the binding was done by the holy angels who assisted him to do certain things. His tongue was made to cleave to the roof of his mouth so that he would be dumb. Ezekiel did not cause his own dumbness—it was done by an outside force.

The result was that the prophet could not speak or communicate until he was permitted to do so. Another example of angelic power being used to assist the righteous occurred in Sodom (Gen. 19:1–11). Two angels struck the sinful men of the city with blindness so that they could not find Lot’s door. The holy angels are called “watchers” in Daniel 4:13,17,23. Ezekiel 4:8 is another verification, where God said to the prophet, “Behold, I will lay bands upon thee.”

Ezek. 3:27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

The people would realize that something had happened to Ezekiel, for he could not speak, but when he opened his mouth, out came a message from God. Hence his dumbness was discerned as supernatural. Whenever his tongue was loosed, out came a “thus saith the Lord GOD,” for God was speaking through him. As Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Ezekiel had a reproving message to deliver, but sometimes, in God’s judgment, the situation was not propitious. The Christian, too, may have a responsibility to discharge, but it should be done as the Lord overrules the circumstances. When Ezekiel’s mouth was loosed, God was saying in effect, “It is all right now for you to give the message.”

As Christians, we speak and act as moved by the Holy Spirit, and those who want to hear will hear. Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

1987–1989 and 1973–1976 Studies

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