3:1 He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you—eat this scroll—and then go and speak to the house of Israel.” 3:2 So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll.
Ezekiel’s message is not to be of his own making. He is to take the message that God gives him and make it his own. Only then will he have confidence and authority to speak to God’s rebellious people.
God’s book is filled with his own writing on every page. There is no room for our own additions.
3:3 He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.” So I ate it, and it was sweet like honey in my mouth.
To those who believe God’s word, it is indeed ‘sweet like honey’. Psa 19:10 – ‘Sweeter than honey, that honey from the comb.’
3:4 He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 3:5 For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel—3:6 not to many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand—surely if I had sent you to them, they would listen to you! 3:7 But the house of Israel is unwilling to listen to you, because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hard-headed and hard-hearted.
3:8 “I have made your face adamant to match their faces, and your forehead hard to match their foreheads. 3:9 I have made your forehead harder than flint—like diamond! Do not fear them or be terrified of the looks they give you, for they are a rebellious house.”
3:10 And he said to me, “Son of man, take all my words that I speak to you to heart and listen carefully. 3:11 Go to the exiles, to your fellow countrymen, and speak to them—say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says,’ whether they pay attention or not.”
“Whether they pay attention or not” – There is an important lesson here for those preachers, and those churches’, who seek to down-play the wrath and judgement of God for fear that it will ‘put people off’. Of course, there are thoroughly obnoxious ways of declaring such truths. God give us the grace to preach them with tears of compassion!
Ezekiel Before the Exiles, 12-21
3:12 Then a wind lifted me up and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me as the glory of the LORD rose from its place, 3:13 and the sound of the living beings’ wings brushing against each other, and the sound of the wheels alongside them, a great rumbling sound. 3:14 A wind lifted me up and carried me away. I went bitterly, my spirit full of fury, and the hand of the LORD rested powerfully on me. 3:15 I came to the exiles at Tel Abib, who lived by the Kebar River. I sat dumbfounded among them there, where they were living, for seven days.
A wind – ‘The Spirit’ (NIV, ESV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, AV, and many others). The underlying Heb. word can, of course, be translated either way, depending on context.
We may suppose that Ezekiel would have preferred to stay where he was, like the disciples on the mount of Transfiguration. He was not the only OT prophet who was reluctant to step out and declare an unpopular message. But he is compelled, and impelled, by God’s Spirit, who lifts him onto his feet and sets him on his way.
One thing is clear: Ezekiel cannot do anything for God without the empowerment of God. And the same is true for us today.
3:16 At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: 3:17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. 3:18 When I say to the wicked, “You will certainly die,” and you do not warn him—you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live—that wicked person will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 3:19 But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life.
A watchman, of course, watches and warns of danger. Faithful preaches both in Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s (Jer 6:13f) day and in our own must not fudge the issue, or sugar-coat the pill. It is only by declaring the bad news of our desperate condition before God that we can make people ready to receive the good news of God’s mercy.