Ezekiel 3 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
1. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest;
eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.
2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
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.
...eat this roll... fill thy bowels with this roll... and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
  • God's Word tastes wonderful to His children, for in it they meet with, and learn of, Him.
    eg., Psa 19:7-10; 119:97,103; Jer 15:16; Rev 10:9-11
  • Hunger for the Word grows out of love for its Author.
    Unsatisfied with a mere taste, the believer should yearn to digest the milk and meat of the Word, in order to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. 1Pet 2:2,3; Col 3:16; 2Tim 2:15; 3:16,17
  • For the rebellious sinner, God's Word seems to hold nothing but lamentation, mourning and woe.
    But for those who know Him, God's Word displaces the woes of sin, with the assurance of His grace and perfect righteousness.
4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go,
get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.
5 For thou [art] not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language,
[but] to the house of Israel;
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.
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.
God did not send Ezekiel to a foreign land, where a language barrier would interfere with communication.
If he had been sent there, those people would have received his message (eg., Jonah 3:5-10).
Rather, he was sent to his own people, who would not listen to him, because they already had God's Word, but had refused to hear it. (eg., Jer 44:4-5,16; cp. Joh 15:20-24)
The house of Israel...
The message of Ezekiel's book is to "all the {ie., the whole} house of Israel," including its kings, priests, false prophets, and people. Yet, Ezekiel's messages were delivered to the portion of the nation which was already living in exile in Babylon.
8 Behold, I have made thy face strong {HB=chazaq} against their faces,
and thy forehead strong
{HB=chazaq} against their foreheads.
9 As an adamant harder
{HB=chazaq} than flint have I made thy forehead:
fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house.
The LORD prepared Ezekiel by making him "strong" and "hard" to withstand the hardened opposition of the rebellious nation.
Ezekiel's name is built around this same word {HB=chazaq, hard, strong}, and means "whom God Strengthens" or "whom God Hardens."
Each of the Lord's servants is unique. The Lord enabled Jeremiah to stand firm, like Ezekiel (Jer 1:8,17-19). Yet, He chose not to 'harden' Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, who struggled emotionally with his personal rejection, and grieved deeply for the sorrows which he foresaw coming upon his people (eg., Jer 9:1). Jeremiah's name means "whom Jehovah has appointed."
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.
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.
The Lord's servant must 'receive' {grasp, possess for oneself} God's Word in his heart... not just selected portions, but 'all my words'... being fully convinced that "it is in truth, the Word of God." cp. Luk 8:11-15; 1The 2:13
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.
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.
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.
15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar,
and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
then the spirit took me up... a great rushing... the wings of the living creatures... the wheels...
Having been caught away in a spiritual vision (beginning at Eze 1:1), Ezekiel was now returned to the natural realm, at the Holy Spirit's direction, as the living creatures retraced the path which had brought him into the LORD's presence. As they departed, the creatures worshipped before the majesty of the LORD, which radiates forth from His "place" {HB=maqom, place, height, standing, stature}. Praise the Lord, that His Glory is manifested wherever He is, not only within the Temple in Jerusalem... even in a strange land, for He is everywhere. Psa 72:18,19; Isa 6:3
     Apparently, Ezekiel's transport was spiritual not physical, for both before and after the vision, he was among the exiles upon the banks of Chebar.
...and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit...
Ezekiel was intensely aware that the LORD had called him to proclaim God's Word to his people. Yet, fresh from the vision of the Glory of the LORD, he sat "astonished {HB=shamem, desolate, devastated, astonished, appalled} among them seven days."
     While the exiles were appalled at their experience as captives in a foreign land, Ezekiel was overwhelmed with his experience before the God of Israel. Ezekiel's spirit (ie., his inner person, not the Holy Spirit) was 'bitter' {ie., heavy} and 'hot' {ie., angry}. His heart and mind were in restless turmoil... torn between (A) a zeal for the LORD, with righteous wrath against the rebellion of his countrymen (cp. Jer 6:10,11)... and (B) the loathsomeness of the thankless task before him. (Ezekiel, like Jeremiah before him, may have agonized over the anticipated antagonism of his people against God's message and messenger. Jer 20:14-18)
"But the hand of the LORD was strong {HB=chazag} upon me."
The LORD was doing His work to settle, strengthen and 'harden' His prophet's heart, in preparation for his assigned task.
16. And it came to pass at the end of seven days,
that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having been called to serve as the LORD's prophet, Ezekiel is now commissioned.-
...I have made {HB=natan, given, established, placed} thee as a watchman unto Israel...
A watchman {HB=tsaphah, a person who observes attentively (from a root word meaning 'one who leans forward')} on a city's wall was to watch and warn of approaching danger.
     In a similar way, God's prophets were to pay close attention to His Word, in order to warn the nation of the impending judgment which He had pronounced upon their sin (v.17). Because the nation refused to listen, the judgment came upon them (eg., Jer 6:17,19). Even after being taken captive to Babylon, the exiles remained in unbelief and expected to return home soon. In the first half of Ezekiel's book, the prophet declared that their expectation was a false hope, for according to God's Word, their continued rebellion had caused inescapable judgment.
     Yet, a watchman who saw good things coming, could also become a bearer of good news (eg., Isa 52:8; Jer 31:6). This is the subject of the last half of the book. In ch. 33, the LORD will re-commission Ezekiel as a watchman with a new emphasis: to proclaim Israel's future restoration, when the Messiah returns to establish His Kingdom.
Ezekiel's role, as a watchman to warn Israel, was aimed at individuals.
The nation had already refused to hear and obey God's Word. Therefore, Ezekiel was to warn "the wicked man" concerning "his wicked way" in order "to save his life" (v.18). In this verse, the Lord reminds the sinner of sin's penalty: "Thou shalt surely die" (cp. Gen 2:17). But for the person who repents (turning from his wickedness to the Lord), there is righteousness and life. Eze 18:30-32; Acts 3:19; Rom 6:23
Every person is responsible for how they respond to God's Word.
To turn from sin to God... or, not to turn... It is a matter of eternal life or death.
Ezekiel was not responsible for how others received the message,
but he was responsible for declaring God's Word to warn them. eg., v.18,19; Eze 33:6
Likewise, every believer is accountable, for how he handles the Word of Life. Acts 20:26,27; Php 2:14-16
     While the Lord's message may be unpopular, and the cost of declaring it may be high, the cost of negligence is higher (see Mark 8:34-38). Can a true believer be ashamed of the One who has delivered his soul? Heb 10:38,39
     Please do not misunderstand what is meant by "thou hast delivered thy soul" (v.19,21). Salvation of the soul is "not by works of righteousness which we have done." Rather, it rests entirely upon the Grace of God in Christ, which is applied to the believer through faith in Him alone (Eph 2:8,9; Titus 3:4-7). Faith in Christ is also the means by which the believer lives to serve the Lord (Gal 2:20). Just as my soul's salvation would be impossible apart from Christ, so my obedience to the Lord's commission is impossible apart from Him who has all power (Mat 28:18-20). Ezekiel, though called, commissioned, and equipped with God's Word, could not fulfill his responsibility as a 'watchman', unless enabled and directed by the Lord (cp. 2Cor 3:5; 1Pet 4:11).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 hand of the LORD was there upon me...
The servant's only resource is the hand of his master. Our Master is the LORD, whose power and riches are inexhaustible. Psa 123:2
     The hand of the LORD had been working upon and within Ezekiel, during his vision of the LORD's glory, and afterwards, as he attempted to process what he had seen (Eze 1:3,4; 3:14,15). It was the LORD who had reached out to this man, to call and commission him for service. Now, the LORD's hand is ready to place him in the work. But notice where the LORD directs him first.
Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.
Why into the unpopulated plain? The exiles, to whom Ezekiel was commissioned to proclaim God's Word, were camped by the river. But that is the point. In the desert place, other voices would not distract from the One who desired to speak with him. The servant's first priority is to come aside to commune with his LORD (v.1-3; v.10; Rev 3:20).
     Did Ezekiel consider this detour strange and inefficient? Maybe not, but we certainly do, for we place priority on the doing of the work. Yet, before a servant can serve, he must learn to obey the Master.
Then I arose, and went forth... and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there... and I fell on my face.
The LORD's servant needs to realize just Who it is he serves. It is during time alone, in His Presence, that we may gaze again at the unchanging glory, of the One whose hand drew us to Him... and if we truly behold Him, we can do nothing but fall before Him in worship.
Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me...
It is the Holy Spirit, who enables the believer to understand the LORD's Word.
It is also the Holy Spirit, who causes the servant to stand for His Master, and for His Word. The glory of the LORD 'stood' (v.23). The Spirit 'set me' {ie., caused me to stand} upon my feet (v.24). The same word for 'stand' is used in both places. The servant stands in the glory and strength of the LORD, who is ever present, though unseen, as he steps forth to carry his Master's message (cp. Mat 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Isa 52:7).
...and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house...
...thou shalt not go out among them... thou shalt be dumb...
Here Ezekiel received his first ministry instructions. But how strange!
He is to go home, isolated from the people he is supposed to reach... and he is not to speak.
     Could it be that the LORD has given you a similar 'wordless' ministry (eg., 1Pet 3:1,2, where 'conversation' refers to her 'manner of living' rather than her spoken message)?
...behold, they shall put bands {ie., ropes, cords} upon thee, and shall bind thee with them...
Furthermore, Ezekiel was not to move. The LORD was preparing His servant to present an object lesson, in which Ezekiel would lie motionless for an extended period (Eze 4:4-6). The ability to do so would come from the LORD (4:8). However, it is possible that neighbors, observing Ezekiel's strange behavior would consider him crazy, and take it upon themselves to tie him in place ("they shall... bind thee...").
...thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover...
...but when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth...
Ezekiel's actions would get the attention of the people, and raise many questions. When the time was right, the LORD would enable His servant to speak. cp. 1Pet 3:15
...thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD...
When the time came for the prophet to speak, he was not to be a 'reprover' {lit., 'a man reprover'; ie., a human judge} of the rebellious nation. Rather, he was simply to declare God's Word. The LORD Himself will hold each hearer accountable for his or her response to His message.
...he that heareth, let him hear... he that forbeareth, let him forbear {'cease' or 'forsake' hearing}...
(How is your hearing? Mat 13:3-9)

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