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The Calling of Ezekiel
When God gives someone a vision of His glory, it is always for a purpose: He wants to make man acquainted with His will and intention. With the vision, God also makes it clear what man is to do with the vision. When Ezekiel lies in worship before God, God tells him to get up again, because He wants to speak to him (Ezekiel 2:1).
This order is also important for us. When we are in worship in the sanctuary, the Lord can give us a mission to the outside world. We must first see the glory of the Lord Jesus in the sanctuary – which happens through the reading of Scripture – and then we can go out on His behalf and witness to Him there. These are the two forms of priestly service we have, which Peter writes about (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9). After worship in the sanctuary comes public service.
The LORD addresses Ezekiel as “son of man”, or “son of Adam” (Ezekiel 2:3). This is the first word that the Person on the throne says to Ezekiel, a word that indicates a contrast to that glorious and mighty God. Compared to Him, Ezekiel is but a weak, mortal son of Adam.
The name “son of man” is typical of this book. It occurs more than ninety times and always refers to Ezekiel. The name is also never used for any other prophet. It means that he is simply human. At the same time, Ezekiel is a type of Christ in his ministry. The Lord Jesus, Who is also often called Son of Man, is Man, remembering that He is unique as a Man, for He is without sin through His conception by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 4:15).
It is an impressive grace that God wants to send this son of man to His people, and not the awesome living beings of Ezekiel 1. The public presence of these living beings in the midst of the people would result in an instantaneous annihilation of the rebellious people. Therefore, God sends Ezekiel as the “son of man”, so that in him we see again a beautiful picture of Christ in His life on earth in the midst of the same rebellious people. He, Who in Himself is “too pure to approve evil” (Habakkuk 1:13), comes to a thoroughly sinful people to redeem them.
It seems as if Ezekiel himself has no power to rise. The Spirit Who controls the living beings in Ezekiel 1 (Ezekiel 1:20) comes into the prophet (Ezekiel 2:2). This is not to dwell in him permanently. Nor is he just now coming to faith. The Spirit only dwells in the believer after Pentecost. That happens once a person has believed the gospel of his salvation (Ephesians 1:13). In the Old Testament, He works in the believer. For this, He comes temporarily in or about him to enable him to do a certain service.
Ezekiel is commanded to go to the Israelites, whom the LORD calls “a rebellious people” because they “have rebelled against” Him. They are not just rebellious once either, but their entire life and history exhibit this behavior, “to this very day”, which is this day when the LORD speaks to Ezekiel here.
The word “peoples” – Hebrew gojim – is used by the Jews with contempt for the nations who do not serve the LORD and have no relationship with Him. The LORD now uses that name for His people who have departed from Him and become like the nations. This makes Ezekiel’s service necessary and also heavy.
The Israelites have been called so many times to repent of their wicked ways, but they “are stubborn and obstinate children” (Ezekiel 2:4). They are not an audience that is easily approached and open to a word from the LORD. The LORD does not present Ezekiel with a more beautiful picture than it is.
Ezekiel must go to this shameless and hard-learned people and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD”. He comes not with a message of his own but with that of Adonai Yahweh. “Lord”, Adonai, is the name of God as the sovereign Lord Who governs all things. “GOD”, Yahweh, is the name of God that points to His covenant relationship with His people.
We encounter this double name often in this book. It is a reminder that the LORD still loves His chosen people and will finally bless them. For us, that name means that He is above all our difficulties and directs the course of our lives in every detail. He loves us and has thoughts of peace over us.
Ezekiel should not count on a warm reception for his message, for they are “a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:5). The word “for” indicates that he knows this too. The primary issue, however, is not whether they are listening or not, but that they will have to acknowledge that a prophet has been in their midst (cf. Ezekiel 33:33). They will be without excuse when God judges them for their sins. Then they will have to acknowledge that he has been a true prophet (Deuteronomy 18:21-Song of Solomon :; Jeremiah 28:9).
That Ezekiel, an ordinary man, will not meet willing listeners for his message is evident from the words of encouragement God speaks to him (Ezekiel 2:6). He is not to be afraid of them nor of what they say. This is said by God no less than four times in this verse. They will make life very difficult for him. God compares these people to “thistles and thorns” and “scorpions”. Those are terrifying designations.
Thistles and thorns are the result of the fall into sin (Genesis 3:18). Scorpions cause intense pain when they sting someone, which they do with the poison sting on their abdomen. Ezekiel is surrounded by people who exhibit these characteristics. Any contact with these people causes him pain. The Lord Jesus felt this in a perfect way (Psalms 57:4). Ezekiel should not be intimidated by them, not by their mean words and not by their looks full of hatred.
Undaunted, he must speak the words of the LORD, “My words”, to them (Ezekiel 2:7). How they respond is not his business. The power of God’s words must ring out to those who are “rebellious”. From this it is clear that he should not count on them to listen to him. In doing so, they reject not him, but the LORD, in Whose Name he comes and Whose words he speaks (cf. 1 Samuel 8:7).
We, too, live in a part of the world where the Word of God has often sounded, but where people are increasingly clearly rejecting this Word. This applies not only to the world without God, but also to the so-called Christian world. When we speak to people, there is mainly rejection. Yet we must preach in the Name of the Lord because we know “the fear of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11). “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14) to do so.
Before Ezekiel carries out the command, God tells him to listen to what He speaks to him (Ezekiel 2:8). First listen and then speak. How will we know what to speak if we do not listen first? God warns Ezekiel not to have the same rebellious mind as the people. If he does, he will not be able to perform the service assigned to him. He must be careful not to react in the same way as the people. Therefore, in obedience, he must open his mouth and eat what God gives him.
Eating indicates identification with the message. God’s message to the people must first pass through Ezekiel’s inner being. He must undergo the Word himself, it must become a part of him, before he can pass on the message. Those who pass on a message from the Word of God must first have fed on that Word. A servant is not a speaker who passes on words that do not touch him. The Word must first have an effect in the servant. The servant must learn that he does not live by bread alone, “BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (Matthew 4:4).
Then Ezekiel sees a hand extended to him containing a scroll (Ezekiel 2:9; cf. Revelation 5:1). It is the hand of the LORD that gives him the scroll to eat. The LORD Himself spreads the scroll before Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:10). He is preparing him for his service.
The scroll is written on both sides, on the front and back. It indicates the fullness of the Word and also its balance. What is written on it are “lamentations, mourning and woe”. The balance is that the judgment is perfectly balanced with the unfaithfulness of God’s people. Ezekiel sees here the sad and ominous content of his preaching. God shows him the most difficult part of his work here.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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