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

Ezekiel is given a roll and told to eat it. This roll is, again, a scroll or a book (Ezek. 2:9), not a piece of bread. It represents the message that he must give. After Ezekiel eats the book, he is told to go speak to Israel.

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

Ezekiel opens his mouth and God causes him to eat the book. It is symbolic here of God being the source of the message, God’s authority over Ezekiel and through Ezekiel to speak.

3And 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.

When Ezekiel first swallows the book. It represents him understanding and accepting God’s message. It tastes sweet because the message is good and desirable to Ezekiel.

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

A reiteration of Ezekiel’s charge after he eats the book.

5For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6Not 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.

Ezekiel is not sent to a foreign nation that won’t understand his language and therefore his message. He is sent to his own people. Had God sent Ezekiel to a foreign nation, God says they would have listened to Ezekiel.

7But 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 says that Israel will not listen to Ezekiel because they will not even listen to God. The nation has become rude and calloused in their manner toward God.

8Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. 9As 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.

Though Israel would argue against Ezekiel with sternness (hard faces) and stubbornness (hard foreheads), God would make Ezekiel stronger still. The adamant or diamond is stronger than flint. Ezekiel’s message, his arguments against Israel would break through all the arguments Israel could bring up in their own defense.

10Moreover 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.

God tells Ezekiel to make sure that he takes the message to heart, to understand not just intellectually, but to the core of his being. He needs to live this message, engraft it as we see in James 1:21 and Heb. 8:10; 10:16.

11And 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.

God reminds Ezekiel that Israel is captive because of God’s will for their rebellion. He says regardless if they heed your message or not, tell them anyway.

12Then 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. 13I 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.

It is surprising that “spirit” is not capitalized here for it is the Holy Spirit that inspires men to write the words of God for men (2 Pet. 1:21). It is no doubt the Holy Spirit who is delivering this message in visionary form as He has done for all the prophets.

Ezekiel hears behind him a singular voice. It sounds like a great rushing as if a host of wings are beating the air. It is the same sound Ezekiel heard in 1:24. Again this is the voice of God.

14So 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.

Again the Holy Spirit is the one who takes Ezekiel. He goes in bitterness and in the heat of his own spirit because the message he must deliver, while sweet to him, will be difficult to tell the Israelites. Jehovah was there to guide and strengthen him helping his resolve.

15Then 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. 16And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Ezekiel came to those Israelites who were captive in Telabib and sits with them for seven days. He is observing them for seven days without speaking, astonished at what they did and had become. At the end of those seven days, Jehovah requires him to speak the message.

17Son 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.

This idea of a watchman is seen throughout the old testament. In the books of history they are set as literal watches to warn cities or camps of impending invasions. Isaiah, Jeremiah, the minor prophets all use the concept of the watchman to give warning. As we discussed in Matthew 24, the idea of the watchman was to watch for something in order to give warning. That was why Matthew 24:36f could not have been about the end of the world. A watchman would have been pointless as he could not have given a warning about the coming of Christ in time to have any useful effect.

Here Ezekiel is the watchman, warning the house of Israel.

Now we see the message:

18When 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. 19Yet 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.

If Jehovah gives the message to Ezekiel to tell the wicked they will die and Ezekiel does not warn them, then the wicked will die, but God will condemn Ezekiel for that man’s death for failure to warn him. But if Ezekiel does warn the wicked man and the wicked man does not repent, Ezekiel is free from any responsibility toward that man.

We see once more the role and importance of the watchman.

20Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block 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. 21Nevertheless 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.

God reiterates the admonition to Ezekiel to provide warning as the watchman, this time with regard to the righteous man.

22And 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. 23Then 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. 24Then 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 tells Ezekiel to leave the Israelites and go to the plain. There Ezekiel sees Jehovah. Since no man can technically see God the Father and live, this is a theophany, a pre-incarnation of Jesus. We see this in Daniel 10 and in Revelation 1:13f. In each case, the prophet falls on his face. The Holy Spirit, divine inspirer of the Bible, tells Ezekiel to go shut himself in his house.

25But 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: 26And 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.

Ezekiel is told that he will be bound and not aloud to speak with words any more to the house of Israel. His silence spoke to them nonetheless. He castigated the people with their deafness, so that God still had a witness against them. But God ordered Ezekiel to make signs, as mute men (like Zacharias, the father of John the Immerser) do. By these simple pictures Ezekiel makes known the mind of God to the northern tribes. This way, not only do they receive the warning, God gets the point across that they are stupid and dull, not capable of being taught by words as adults are, but have to be taught as children or deaf men, with pictures. (We’ll see this in chapter 4.)

27But 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.

Jehovah God says that when Ezekiel does speak, those that hear need to understand. Those that stand against Ezekiel are free to do so.

In Truth and Love.

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