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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 3

CHAP. III.

Ezekiel eateth the roll. God encourageth him. God sheweth him the rule of prophesy. God shutteth and openeth the prophet's mouth.

Before Christ 595.

Verse 1

Ezekiel 3:1. Eat that thou findest Eat that which is reached out to thee. Houbigant. The Chaldee, instead of eat, reads receive, as it is explained in the 10th verse, receive in thine heart.

Verse 3

Ezekiel 3:3. Cause thy belly to eat Thy belly shall eat this roll which I give thee; and thy bowels shall be filled with it: And while I did eat it, it was sweet in my mouth like honey. Houbigant. See Rev 10:10 where St. John, eating the roll, found it sweet at first, but afterwards bitter; that is to say, observes Bishop Newton, "The knowledge of future things at first was pleasant; but the sad contents of the little book afterwards filled his soul with sorrow."

Verse 12

Ezekiel 3:12. Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place Whatever place God honours with his especial presence is equivalent to his temple; and there the angels always attend upon the Divine Majesty to give him the honour due unto his name. Instead of, From his place, we may read, In his place.

Verse 14

Ezekiel 3:14. I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit I went with a bitter and uneasy mind. See the note on Ezekiel 3:3.

Verse 15

Ezekiel 3:15. Tel-abib Tel-abib is generally supposed to be a town in Mesopotamia near the river Chebar. The remainder of the verse is to be understood in the same manner as Job 2:13.

Verse 17

Ezekiel 3:17. I have made thee a watchman See Isaiah 51:7-8; Isaiah 56:10.

Verse 20

Ezekiel 3:20. And I lay a stumbling-block before him And if when I bring ruin upon him, he shall die because thou hast not given him warning; he shall die, &c. Houbigant. The word מכשׁול mikshol, rendered ruin, signifies those diseases or afflictions wherewith God punished the idolatrous Jews among the Chaldeans. See Houbigant's note.

Verse 25

Ezekiel 3:25. They shall put bands Bands shall be put upon thee, and thou shalt be bound therewith. Houbigant reads the latter clause, That thou canst not move thyself among them. Houbigant.

Verse 27

Ezekiel 3:27. He that heareth, let him hear, &c.— See Eze 3:11 and ch. Ezekiel 2:5. "Hear who will, and he who will not, let him forbear." These are the strongest marks of the indignation of the Lord; "The hardness of Israel is such, that they do not deserve to be spoken to again. Say to them for the last time, If they will hear, let them hear if not, I give them up."

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This is a continuation of the vision of the foregoing chapter.

1. The prophet eats the roll at the divine command; not literally a real roll, but figuratively, or in vision: he must read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the prophetic word sent him, filling his head with the knowledge, and his heart with the love of it; and, not disobedient to the heavenly vision, he opened his mouth, and the Lord caused him to eat the roll; gave him understanding of his message, and inclination and ability to discharge his office; and he found it in his mouth as honey for sweetness: whatever mourning and woe it contained to the impenitent, there were great and precious promises therein respecting Christ and his salvation, on which his soul fed with great delight. Note; (1.) God's word is the bread of life, every day to be fed upon by all his people, deeply to be received into the heart, and universally to be embraced and obeyed. (2.) They who minister to others in holy things, are especially bound to meditate on their subject, and make solemn and serious preparation before they presume to speak God's word. (3.) All our sufficiency is of God: though we had the greatest human ability, and the most intense application, unless he cause us to eat the roll, and bestow a spirit of wisdom and understanding, we shall know nothing as we ought to know. (4.) They who make God's word their daily meditation, will find it sweeter than honey or the honey-comb.

2. He is sent as before to the rebellious house of Israel. When he had thoroughly learnt and digested the roll, he must go and faithfully deliver it, careful to speak God's words; not his own, or the enticing word's of man's wisdom, but those which the Holy Ghost teacheth; for thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech, but to the house of Israel, for whom he ought to have a tender concern, and from whom he might expect, as he spoke to them in their own tongue, and with the most convincing arguments, attention and obedience. Or this is mentioned to upbraid their impenitence and obstinacy in rejecting him; for had he been sent to the most barbarous nations, whose language he could not understand, and must have spoken by an interpreter; yet would his preaching have been more effectual to them than it will now be to his own countrymen, whose hardened hearts would be deaf to the plainest admonitions, and inattentive to the most awful warnings: nor need the prophet wonder if they refused to hearken to him, when they had rejected God himself. Nevertheless he must go; and God engages to endue him with such invincible courage and unshaken intrepidity, that he shall be able to face, yea, to confound the boldest, most impudent, and daring sinners among them; and therefore, whatever dangers threatened, he need not fear or be dismayed, but go and utter all God's words; receiving them into his own heart and ears, without exception or disputing against them, and delivering them without reserve in God's name, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. Note; (1.) They who have the word of God clearly set before them, and wilfully reject the counsel of God against their own souls, are without excuse. (2.) They who have impudent sinners to deal with, need a forehead of adamant, not to be abashed or disconcerted by their mockery or insults. (3.) When we are called out to hard services, we shall be furnished for our place and station; as our day is, our strength shall be. (4.) Though we should not see the happy fruit of our labours which we could wish, we must not be discouraged from persevering zeal in the discharge of our ministry.

3. The Spirit of God with a holy violence sets him on his work. He lifted me up, and took me away, as Philip, Act 8:39 carrying him through the air from the place where he was, to another company of the captives seated at a distance on the same river Chebar; and I heard behind me, as he went, a voice of a great rushing, proceeding from the living creatures and the wheels, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place; which may be considered as an ascription of praise offered to God by all his saints, whether ministers or people, proceeding from his church militant out of his temple on earth, or from his church triumphant out of heaven, on account of his glorious perfections, and all his righteous works and ways. Or it may be a sigh of lamentation after the blessed glory of the Lord removing out of his place, forsaking his temple. I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures, who clapped them when they praised God; that touched one another, or, literally, kissed a woman her sister, uniting in true love to God and one another, and joining in this doxology; and the noise of the wheels over against them, actuated by the same Spirit, and giving the same glory to God; and a noise of a great rushing, as before; and I went in bitterness, grieved at the people's wickedness, and affected with the doleful tidings that he carried; in the heat of my spirit, moved with indignation, or fretting at the disobedience foretold, and reluctant to go on so unwelcome an errand: but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me; constraining him to the work, and mightily supporting him to go through with it. Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, the Jews who were fixed there, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, another colony on the same river; and I sat where they sat, attentive to their discourse, or waiting the prophetic impulse; and remained there astonished among them seven days, as Job's friends, Job 2:13 overwhelmed with grief on beholding their misery, or overpowered with the weight of the awful message that he brought them. Note; (1.) If God did not use a kind of holy but loving constraint with our reluctant hearts, we should be ready at times to desert our ministerial post. (2.) There may be many struggles of fear and unbelief where grace in a measure reigns: and, though it is with trembling, yet such dare go at God's bidding. (3.) Nothing is more discouraging to a minister's spirit, than to see a hardened people unaffected under his discourses. (4.) Great griefs are often silent, too big for utterance, and far beyond tears.

2nd, After seven days God sends his word to him: probably this was a sabbath, and he will thus honour his day by especial manifestations of himself.
1. God tells him his office. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; to watch over their souls, to warn and guard them against their spiritual enemies; for which purpose, sharp discernment, sleepless vigilance, and courageous fidelity, are needful. Note; They whom God appoints for watchmen on the walls of his Zion, the church, must shun no toil; desert their post for no danger; watch always; and pray for a better guard than their own; conscious that without the divine benediction and care, the watchman waketh but in vain.

2. The duty of his office is set before him, the blessings of fidelity, and the curse of unfaithfulness. He must speak according to the divine word communicated to him. Hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me; and as the characters of men are different, he must distinguish between the precious and the vile, and give to each their due portion.

[1.] He must address the wicked, to warn him of his danger, and lead him to repentance. (1.) While he persists in his sins he is a damned soul, and eternal death is his portion. (2.) If he repent, and turn from his wickedness, he shall save his life, God being ready to pardon and receive every returning sinner. (3.) Though the minister be negligent, that will be no excuse; for the sinner shall perish in his iniquity. Yet, (4.) God will require at the watchman's hands the souls that are lost through his carelessness and unfaithfulness; and a terrible reckoning will this prove in a judgment-day for all unfaithful and negligent ministers. (5.) If they have been faithful, though unsuccessful, God will approve their conduct, and they shall at least deliver their own souls.

[2.] He must address the righteous; either those who are such professionally, or those who are so in sincerity and truth. (1.) Some are only externally righteous, delivered from grosser excesses, and observant of the forms of godliness merely. These easily turn from their righteousness, and commit iniquity: they have no inward principle to support them, and therefore in the time of temptation apostatize from the little profession that they have made. In the way of such God lays stumbling-blocks, (Ezekiel 3:20.) to make manifest the secret wickedness which reigns within; that is to say, he delivers them up to themselves and the enemy of their souls. These will die eternally, and all their good deeds and duties, on which they trusted, will stand them in no stead; unless the Lord vouchsafe to them another call, and they repent. Of this he must assure them, at the peril of his own soul, chargeable with their blood if he neglect his office; not that his neglect will be their exculpation; they shall notwithstanding perish in their apostacy. (2.) Some are righteous in sincerity and truth, justified by Christ Jesus, and sanctified by his Spirit, yet these need warnings. These must be warned that they sin not; for the most holy need continually to watch and pray against sin; the effect of which will be, that he sin not, receiving and improving under the word of exhortation. Persevering in this way he shall surely live, and finally be saved, the path of holiness being the way to glory; the warning through divine grace being in this case effectual, and the fidelity of the minister approved: thus he shall save his own soul, and those who hear him, 1 Timothy 4:6.

3rdly, We have a repetition of the former glorious vision made to the prophet in the plain, whither at the divine command he had gone forth, vouchsafed to him probably to confirm his faith, and overcome the reluctance that he might feel to undertake the prophetic office.
1. He is commanded to go and shut himself up in his house, there to wait farther instructions from God; or, as withdrawing himself from a people unworthy of the divine notice; or, as others with probability suggest, as a figure of Jerusalem closely besieged by the Chaldeans, so that none might go forth. Note; (1.) It is a heavy judgment on a people, when God shuts up and removes from them their faithful reprovers. (2.) Ministers have need of retirement, to learn themselves of God what they must declare unto others. There is little prospect of profitable preaching, without previous meditation and prayer.

2. He is warned of the insults which they would put upon him. They shall put bands upon thee, either as a disturber of the peace, as a false prophet, or a mad enthusiast; with all which characters the faithful and zealous ministers of God are often branded: or this may be understood figuratively, either of the obstinate disobedience of the people, which shut his mouth; or of the divine order to retire, which tied up his hands from labouring among them. Therefore,

3. He must be silent, neither go among them, nor speak to them as a reprover; but leave them to their hard and impenitent hearts, as a rebellious house, till God shall take off the interdict; and, having communicated to the prophet all his mind concerning them, shall open his mouth, and authorize and enable him to speak, whether they will hear and be reformed, or forbear at the peril of their eternal ruin. God's mercy will thus be glorified in the salvation of the repentant sinner, or his justice in the damnation of the obstinately rebellious.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/ezekiel-3.html. 1801-1803.