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EZEKIEL’S MINISTRY AND OURS
‘The house of Israel will not hearken unto thee.’
‘Seeing we have this ministry … we faint not.’
2 Corinthians 4:1
I. What is the nature of the Christian ministry?—Thank God, it is a very blessed one. It is the ministry of the New Testament, a ministry not of condemnation and death, but of restoration and life. Our commission is not to proclaim wrath and destruction, but to tell of refuge and of pardon. We have indeed to point out the danger, that the refuge may be sought—to show the demands of justice, that pardon may be accepted. But our message is not one of gloom and severity, but of gladness and love. We have not the ‘roll’ given to Ezekiel, full of ‘lamentations, and mourning, and woe’ ( Ezekiel 2:10). Our errand is rather that of the angel in Longfellow’s poem—
‘Then with a smile that filled the house with light,
“My errand is not death, but life,” he said.’
II. And it is ‘the ministration of the Spirit’ ( 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 3:17).—When Ezekiel went forth to deliver his message to the children of Israel, he knew that they would not hearken to him ( Ezekiel 3:7). He might say, in the words of Isaiah, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought’ ( Isaiah 49:4). For we read of no hearts touched, no consciences awakened, no lives changed by his preaching. But when, in his vision of the latter days, he prophesied to the ‘dry bones,’ they came together, and when he ‘prophesied to the wind,’ the heavenly breath came upon the dry bones, and flesh covered them, and they lived. That is the picture of the ‘ministration of the Spirit.’
Truly it is a glorious ministry, full of wealth and beauty, full of honour and blessing—one that angels might well desire, and yet committed to us, poor, frail, feeble creatures. Does it seem too great, too high, too glorious to be ours? Think—was not the Divine mercy great and wonderful and glorious? Yet it descended to us, raised us ‘out of the dust,’ and ‘out of the dunghill’ ( Psalms 113:7), to make us ‘heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.’ As surely as this portion—that of a ransomed child of God—is ours, so is ‘ this ministry’ ours.
‘AD MAJOREM GLORIAM DEI’
‘I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord!’
I. How opportune this was!—The prophet was to be sent on an unwelcome errand. His message had already been the cause of intense bitterness within his vitals ( Ezekiel 3:3); and it was to be delivered to the house of Israel, who were of a hard forehead and of a stiff head. What his reception would be, it was impossible to forecast. Nevertheless he had to go, for the Spirit lifted him up, and the hand of God was strong upon him. But at this moment he heard the rushing of wings, which reminded him of the presence of the cherubim, and there broke on his ear their perpetual chant: ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord!’
II. That is the absorbing thought of the Eternal World.—Above the plains of Bethlehem the shepherds heard a great multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying: ‘Glory to God in the Highest!’ Our Lord taught us that ‘Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory’; and on the eve of His death, He said, ‘I have glorified Thee on the earth.’
III. This must ever be our first consideration.—We are apt to ask, How much will it cost? How much shall I have to suffer? What honourable discharge may I expect, when I have laid my work down? But these questions are ruled out of court, when the service of God is at stake. Then we must hear the voice of the great rushing, of endeavour to lift our poor lives to the level of the heavenly service, as we say, ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord!’ Shall we be able to review our lives with comfort at the last, in the light of this thought? Whether we eat or drink, suffer or strive, let all be done to the glory of God.
‘The prophet did not go alone to the mournful field of prophetic agency. He was borne thither under the conscious might of the Spirit of God, and was attended by the symbols of the Divine presence and glory. When he rose to proceed on his course, the whole machinery of the heavenly vision began also to move; and amid the crashing or tumultuous noise which broke upon his spiritual ear, he heard the words, “Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from His (or its) place”—certainly a somewhat peculiar utterance, and one not found in any other part of Scripture; yet not materially different from another in frequent use, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The glory of Jehovah here was that manifested glory which had appeared in vision to the prophet, and which was, in other words, a revelation of His glorious name. To pronounce it blessed from its place was in effect to bless God Himself, as thus and there revealing His adorable perfections and Divine will. And as the prophet was going to be the representative and herald of these in a sphere where there was much to damp his spirit, and withstand his faithful agency, it was fit that he should go with the solemn word pealing in his ears from those ideal ministers of heaven, “Blessed be the glory of the Lord.” As much as to say, Let this above all be magnified; whatever is experienced or done, let nothing interfere with that pure and majestic glory of Jehovah, which has now in emblem been exhibited.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezekiel 3". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent