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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Ezekiel 2

 

 


Verse 1-2

The Mission of Ezekiel - The Book of Judgment (Ezekiel 2:1 to Ezekiel 3:11).

‘And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet and I will speak with you.” And the spirit entered into me when he spoke to me, and set me on my feet, and I heard him who spoke to me.’

‘Son of man.’ This was a favourite address by God to Ezekiel, occurring over ninety times. It was a reminder to him that in contrast with the One he had seen he was simply a man, a creature of earth, born of human parents. ‘Son of --’ indicates partaking of the nature of. But it was also a constant reminder to him that he was a man, higher than the beasts. He was a man, and yet only a man. But its constant use was also an indication that he represented man, that he was a specially chosen man. He was the one through whom God was approaching men.

The idea would develop further in Daniel 7 where Israel was ‘a son of man’ in contrast to the nations who were wild beasts, and to their glorious representative who would come into the presence of God to receive kingship, and power and dominion on their behalf (Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27). It became a favourite designation by Jesus of Himself, the great, final Representative of man Who was finally to be seated at God’s right hand in power and glory.

The command to ‘stand on your feet’ revealed that God had an active purpose for him which had to be fulfilled. He could not receive such words flat on his face. God would not speak to him until he had stood up. Often we too are on our faces when we should be up and ready to be doing. Unlike the ancient kings He did not want man in humiliating postures. He wanted them erect and active in His service.

‘And the Spirit entered into me when he spoke to me, and set me on my feet.’ The Spirit has already been seen active with regard to the charioteers (Ezekiel 1:12; Ezekiel 1:20). Now He possessed Ezekiel and set him on his feet. The vision had so weakened Ezekiel that he knew that without the Spirit’s help he would never have been able to stand up. It reminds us that it is only with the Spirit’s help that we can stand in the presence of God. Otherwise we would be helpless before Him, cowering and afraid. Then Ezekiel became aware of what the voice was saying to him.


Verse 3-4

‘And he said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to nations who are rebellious, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me, even to this very day. And the children are impudent and stiff-hearted.”

Ezekiel learned that he was being sent to ‘the children of Israel’. While this initially meant to the people of Judah, a now conglomerate people who included people from all the tribes of Israel, Ezekiel was to see his message as wider, as to all the children of Israel. The use of the plural ‘nations’, usually used of the world of nations outside Israel, is probably significant in that Israel and Judah are now seen as ‘nations’ among the nations. Because of their rebellion they have been turned out of the land and have become as the heathen. His message was to be for both Israel and Judah, although initially limited to the exiles in Tel-Abib. This included those carried away to Assyria and to the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11). God still had a message for them, and for all those who were once His people.

Notice the charge, they were in rebellion. Not to obey God and His commandments is not only to be a sinner, but also to be a rebel. It is high treason. And that rebellion had been continual and was still true of them where they were, ‘even to this very day’. They had still not learned their lesson. Indeed they were ‘impudent and stiff-hearted’ (literally ‘hard of face and firm of heart’). They turned a hard face to the pleas of Yahweh, and their hearts firmly resisted Him. It is amazing how men can claim to worship God and yet be impervious to His demands. Many of us do the same.


Verse 4-5

“And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh”, and they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house), will yet know that there has been a prophet among them.”

Ezekiel was now informed why he had had the vision. It was that he might become the mouthpiece of the Lord Yahweh, so that he may be able to say, “Thus says the Lord Yahweh”. And he was promised that the people would know that there had been a prophet among them, whether they responded or not. That was the first thing that was important, that they knew that God had spoken among them. Their response would be up to them. But he was also warned that that response was not certain, because they were a rebellious people. He was to be Yahweh’s mouthpiece whether they listened or not. Ministry when men will not listen is the hardest of all services for God, but that does not excuse us from it, nor mean that His hand is not with us.

God saw in the long term. Some would labour, others would enter into that labour, building on it and benefiting by it (John 4:38). What God was concerned about here was that the people would know that He had not forgotten them, that His word still came to them. Then they would be without excuse. Any failure would be theirs, not His. It is one of the signs of the depravity of human nature that men will recognise prophets, and even at times respect them (when the prophets are not making them feel too guilty), and will yet not listen to them.

‘A rebellious house.’ Rebellious, yet recognised as of God’s household nonetheless. They were not yet fully rejected.


Verse 6

“And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words. Though briars and thorns be with you, and you dwell among scorpions, do not be afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”

Ezekiel was not to be in any doubt about his calling. There was to be no guarantee of success. But he must minister nonetheless. And he must be fearless in the face of opposition. Neither animosity nor harsh words, which would be his lot, must deter him.

There was no promise of an easy time, as for us. The way is often that of briars and thorns, uncomfortable and painful, but it is not thereby to be avoided. ‘You dwell among scorpions.’ The suggestion is of many hidden dangers that suddenly strike and catch men unawares. It was a painful path that Ezekiel was called on to tread. And we may be called on to tread it too.

And there would not only be harsh words, but unfriendly and threatening looks. These were to be expected, for he was speaking to a people in rebellion. The word for ‘dismayed’ is very strong. It means excessively dismayed. He must not allow them to get him down.


Verse 7

“And you shall speak my words to them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, for they are most rebellious.”

The voice of the prophet must continue whether men heard or not. He was given God’s words as a sacred trust, and so he must speak. But response was not guaranteed, for he must recognise the rebelliousness of those to whom he went. This continual emphasis was a sign and a warning that soon something very difficult was going to be required of him. God was preparing him for the worst. As we serve God that is the one thing that we can guarantee, that God will prepare us for what is to come.


Verse 8

“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Now Ezekiel was made to recognise that what he was to do would not be naturally to his liking, but he was warned that if he refused he would become like ‘the rebellious house’. So he was warned to take heed and not to rebel at what was required. God often requires of us what we do not want to do. We too must beware of being rebels.

“Open your mouth and eat what I give you.” This was probably a very picturesque way of saying receive, read, mark, accept and inwardly digest. It may, however, have included actually digesting the scroll as a symbol of having received it, for the book of Ezekiel contains demanding, acted out symbols elsewhere, although as a heavenly book in a vision it may have been more edible than papyrus or leather.


Verse 9-10

‘And when I looked, behold, a hand was put forth to me, and lo, a roll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me, and it was written on both sides (‘within and without’), and there was written in it lamentations, and mourning, and woe.’

The scroll was handed over by a mysterious hand, possibly one of the hands of the living creatures (Ezekiel 1:8), or even the hand of the One Whose appearance was like that of a man (Ezekiel 1:26). Normally a scroll would be made of papyrus or leather, but this was a heavenly scroll in vision. We do not know what it was made of. ‘And he spread it before me.’ A decisive and demanding action that required it to be read at once.

‘And it was written on both sides.’ Normally a scroll would only have writing on one side. This was to indicate that it was overfull and that what was contained in it would be of overflowing measure.

‘And there was written in it lamentations, and mourning, and woe.’ The message it contained was an unpalatable one. It presaged misery to come. And indeed for Ezekiel the next few years would be full of that message. Before building up hope he was first to proclaim the certainty of overflowing judgment. This would result in cries and groaning, weeping, and disasters and judgments. It was only after that that he would be able to offer hope.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/ezekiel-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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