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The Prophet’s Commission
“And He said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee. And the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet; and I heard Him that spake unto me. And He said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to nations that are rebellious, which have rebelled against Me: they and their fathers have transgressed against Me even unto this very day. And the children are impudent and stiff-hearted: I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear (for they are a rebellious house), yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that which I give thee. And when I looked, behold, a hand was put forth unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and He spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe”-vers. 1-10.
When God calls a man to act for Him in some particular capacity, He fits him for the service he is to undertake. Augustine well said, “God’s commandings are God’s enablings.” The flesh may shrink from the great task, but he who counts on God will be able to say, “I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord” (Micah 3:8). God never sends anyone at his own charges or to act in his own strength, much less to be guided by his own wisdom. This was clearly manifested in the case of Moses (Exodus 4:10-15), and of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-19); and it comes out very definitely here in the call of Ezekiel to the prophetic office. Already he had seen visions of God. Now he was commissioned to be God’s mouthpiece to Israel and the nations. Jehovah still speaks in power and clarity after the lapse of two-and-a-half millennia.
The opening words of this chapter are most challenging. The Lord said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.” The expression “Son of man” is distinctive. In the Old Testament it is used of mankind generally (Job 25:6; Job 35:8Job 35:8; Psalms 144:3; Psalms 146:3Psalms 146:3), as also in several passages in the prophets (Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 56:2Isaiah 56:2; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 49:33Jeremiah 49:33; Jeremiah 50:40Jeremiah 50:40). It is used prophetically of Christ Himself in Psalms 144:3, and Daniel 7:13, and we know from the Epistle to the Hebrews that the “Son of Man” of Psalms 8:4 is actually our blessed Lord. But it is a characteristic title of Ezekiel, being found eighty-five times in this book. Once Daniel is so addressed, but it is never applied to any other prophet. It was our Lord’s favorite title for Himself as recognizing His link with that lost world which He had come to save (Luke 19:10). It emphasized the reality of His Manhood, even as the title “Son of God” stressed His Deity.
As son of man, Ezekiel was to realize that although divinely called and supernaturally inspired, in himself he was but a man as others to whom he was to proclaim the words given him by God. He was commanded to stand on his feet, at attention, as it were, while the Lord commissioned him for his high and holy office. He was a priest already, and now was to become a prophet-one who was to speak for God to His people the word which had been spoken to him.
Moved and strengthened by the Spirit, undoubtedly the Holy Spirit who had entered into him, Ezekiel stood reverently before the Lord, listening in awe to the voice that spoke to him.
It was no easy service to which he was called. The Lord made it plain that he was to go to a nation of rebels, a people who had failed down through the centuries. The fathers had turned from God to idols, and the children had followed in their steps. Nor was there any likelihood that the children of the captivity, or those remaining in the land, would be any more ready to listen and to obey than their progenitors had been. They were all “impudent children and stiff-hearted.” Ezekiel was to go to them, nevertheless, and give them another opportunity to repent that more dire calamities might be averted.
He was not to speak as from himself, but he was to declare with authority, “Thus saith the Lord God!” It is this that gives dignity and force to the messenger of Jehovah. He who goes before his fellows to declare the thoughts of his own mind, or the imaginations of his own heart, is not the messenger of the Lord. It is not for His ambassadors to delight men with eloquent phrases magnifying the achievements of others or glorifying their own labors. The one business of the servants of God is to proclaim the word of the Lord in faithfulness and yet with grace and humility. “Where the word of a king is, there is power” (Ecclesiastes 8:4), and God is a great King whose Word shall never return to Him void, but shall accomplish that for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11).
Ezekiel did not have to “get up” sermons or compose learned discourses. He simply had to receive the word from the Lord his God and then to give it out in the power of the Spirit to those to whom he was called to minister. The same is true of every anointed servant of God today. Such have been called of the Lord to preach the Word, not human philosophy, specious reasoning or vain imaginations, which, after all, are only evil, and that continually (Genesis 6:5). This may often involve self-denial on the part of the preacher. Like Paul, he may have to be careful not to depend on the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ, the real message, be made of none effect. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, the well-known liberal orator, has decried expository preaching as the poorest type of pulpit ministry, “because it leaves so little scope for the imagination.” But this is the very reason the man of God should glory in unfolding the precious truths of the Scriptures instead of weaving a web of oratory out of himself, as a spider makes its lacy snare to entrap its prey.
Irrespective of the people’s attitude toward his message, Ezekiel was to give out what God had given him. And whether they should hear or whether they should forbear-that is, refuse to heed, they would know that a prophet had been among them, when the words he proclaimed had been fulfilled.
He was not to be afraid of any who might threaten bodily harm. His confidence was to be in the One who sent him. Even though suffering resulted, as suggested by briers and thorns, and dwelling among scorpions, he was not to shrink from the task committed to him, nor be dismayed by the angry countenances of the rebellious house of Israel. It always means suffering to stand for God under adverse conditions. But grace will be supplied according as it is needed, that one may be enabled to endure as seeing Him who is invisible.
In ver. 7 the Lord reiterates and epitomizes all that had gone before. “Thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious.” The apparent failure of the prophet’s mission would not invalidate his authority as the spokesman for Jehovah. It is not necessary that one should be what the world calls successful: it is all-important that one should be faithful to the trust committed to him.
The real danger was that Ezekiel might grow weary of the struggle and become discouraged and fainthearted because of the opposition and the lack of response to his testimony. So the Lord warned him, “Be not thou rebellious like this rebellious house.” And then He gave the strange command, “Open thy mouth, and eat that which I give thee.”
As Ezekiel looked he beheld the form of a hand, reaching down from the cherubim, and in it a scroll, the roll of a book. This was the prophetic message he was to give to the people. Opening it up, there was revealed the terrible prophecies of lamentations and mourning and woe which were to be the burden of his message. To eat this roll was to take God’s word into his very being, to make it part of himself, as it were, and so to be prepared to give it out to the remnant of the captivity.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26