Ezekiel 2:5

Nothing is clearer than that the prophets did not believe themselves to be acting and speaking simply upon the promptings of their own inclinations or their own convictions of what was right and expedient. Whether they were self-deluded or not, certain it is that they deemed themselves ministers and messengers of the Eternal. It was this which gave them both courage and authority. In the most explicit manner, Ezekiel in this passage records his commission to go among his fellow countrymen as the herald of God's wisdom, authority, and grace.

I. THE COMMISSION. "I do send thee unto them." There is great simplicity and great dignity in this language of authorization; he who heard it could never forget it. When disappointed in the result of his ministry, or alarmed at the threats of those whom he sought to benefit, these words must often have recurred to the mind of the prophet, inspiring him with fresh zeal and courage. If the ambassador of a powerful king is strengthened in the fulfilment of his trust by the recollection that he received his authority from a court honoured by friends and feared by foes, how much more must the ambassador from God derive courage and confidence from the knowledge that he is sent by the Supreme, who will never desert those who engage in his service and do his will!

II. THE MESSAGE. At first the prophet received no other message than this: "Thus saith the Lord God." But this was the earnest of much to follow. And, indeed, the whole of the prophecies were amplifications of this. Ezekiel was to go among the children of the Captivity with words from Jehovah. A prophet is one who speaks for, on behalf of, the Divine Being by whom he is commissioned. If the speaker had his own special reasons for believing that the words he uttered were not his own, but God's, those who listened to his declarations of warning and of promise had a witness within, in the testimony of their own conscience, assuring them that the prophet spoke with Divine authority. And this is so still with all who will listen reverently and obediently to the heavenly voice. It is thus that the Scriptures possess over our minds a preeminent power; their writers preface every authoritative utterance with the statement, "Thus saith the Lord."

III. THE VARIOUS RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. It is in accordance with the reasonableness of the inspired writers that. they cherished such moderate expectations regarding the effect to be produced by their ministry. Fanatics would have felt assured that, in such circumstances, they must meet with ready credence and immediate obedience. Ezekiel certainly had no such delusive anticipations, and was indeed expressly warned that his message would meet with varying reception. Some would hear, some would forbear. It was with Ezekiel as in the Christian dispensation it was with Paul; we are told that the result of his ministry at Rome was that "some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved."

IV. THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED BY GOD'S MESSENGER UPON THOSE TO WHOM HE WAS SENT. "They shall know that there hath been a prophet among them." Even those who were so much under the influence of ignorance, prejudice, evil example, and sin, that they did not and would not turn unto God, nevertheless were well aware that their obstinate impiety was unjustifiable. They might ridicule the prophet in their language, but they reverenced him in their hearts. Beneath the laugh of incredulity was a deep-seated fear, springing from an inward conviction that the voice they rejected was indeed the voice of God. Had one come among them flattering their vanity and pride, and ministering to their sinful tastes, they would in their heart of hearts have despised him. But when one came fearlessly upbraiding them with their unfaithfulness, and denouncing their guilty defection, they could not but know that a prophet had been among them.

APPLICATION. This passage has an especial significance for ministers of God's Word, and for all religious teachers. It shows them where their strength lies; warns them against enunciating their own speculations or inculcating precepts founded upon their own experience; and directs them to go among their fellow men with this dignified and effective message, "Thus saith the Lord." They may be tempted to court men's favour and good will by uttering words of flattery. But it is well that, when so tempted, they should remember that there is in men a conscience, which may be repressed, but which cannot be crushed, which renders a homage, though silent, to the just authority of truth and righteousness, and which recognizes, even though it does not lead to practical obedience, the precepts and the warnings which are from God. - T.

I send thee to the children of Israel.
I. THE COMMISSION. Is it not an act of infinite condescension, that God should take any notice of us? For what are we? Poor finite creatures; of limited capacities, with tendencies to evil, tendencies to the very thing that God Almighty hates, detests, and abhors. Not only with tendencies to these things; but in the actual perpetration of sin; committing crime upon crime. And yet God sends His message to us. Why? Because He knows the original dignity of the soul of man; He knows what it was before he fell; He knows what it was capable of then; and He knows what the soul of man can yet be made through the blood of the Cross and through the power of the Holy Ghost: and, therefore, God sends messages to man. "I do send"; "thou shalt say." We have no business to go and preach unless God send the outward call of the Church and the inward call of the Spirit. And hence our own Church asks all its candidates for holy orders — the bishop puts the question — "Dost thou believe that thou art inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon thee this office?" Oh, solemn question! But what shall they speak? They shall speak, "Thus saith the Lord." The authority for the message is "I do send"; the nature of the message is what the Lord hath said.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH THIS MESSAGE, WHICH THE PROPHET HAD BEEN COMMISSIONED TO DELIVER, IS TREATED. A twofold way: some receive it; others reject it. Concerning the apostolical ministry, concerning the word preached by the apostles, some believed the thing spoken, and some believed not.

III. THEY WHO RECEIVE THIS MESSAGE, AND THEY WHO REJECT IT, SHALL BOTH KNOW AT LAST THAT IT CAME FROM THE LORD. They who receive it, knew it long before. The indwelling Spirit of the living God testifies with your spirits that these things are true. But take the case of those who reject the Gospel. Oh, they find out also that it was all true. I appeal from the present to the future. You know there is a story in history of a poor woman who considered herself aggrieved, and applied to Philip, King of Macedon. She found him in a state of intoxication: I appeal, said she, "from Philip, under the influence of wine, to Philip, sober and able to judge." And so I say, if the world, with its allurements, enchant and ensnare you now, and intoxicate your spirit. I appeal from that state to the hour when you shall turn your pale face to the waft, when friends and kindred and medical men shall whisper, "It will soon be all over": then you shall find, as true as that there is a God, that the Bible is a Divine revelation, that the things which we said to you, concerning which you thought us too much in earnest, are all perfectly true.

(T. Mortimer, B. D.)

He was a prophet though the house was rebellious. Can the Lord find no better place for His prophets? Can He not make them a second garden? He made one: can He not make two? Can He not cause His prophet to stand in some high tower where he will be untainted by the pollution of place and time, and whence he can thunder out the Divine word? Has the prophet to mingle with the people, to live with them, to touch their corruptness, to feel the contagion of their evil manners? Might he not have a pedestal to himself? No. The Son of Man when He comes will go on eating and drinking, a social reformer, a brother, a fellow guest at tables; He will take the cup after we have partaken of it, and we may cut Him what morsel of bread He may eat, or He will hand them to us; He will be one of His fellowcreatures. And yet Ezekiel was a prophet. So is the Son of Man. Nothing could mingle Ezekiel with the rebellious house, so as to be unable to distinguish between the one and the other. Proximity is not identification. We may sit close to a murderer, and be quite distinct from him as to all our proclivities, and desires, and aspirations. We need not be corrupt because we live in a corrupt age; we need not go down because the neighbourhood is bad. It is poor pleading, it is irreligious and inexcusable defence, which says it could not resist atmospheric pressure, the subtle influence of social custom and habitude. It is the business of a prophet to stand right up from them, apart from them, and yet to be so near as to be able to teach them, exhort them, rebuke them, and comfort them, when they turn their face but a point towards the throne, the Cross, and the promised heaven.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. To declare God's will;

2. To assert His authority;

3. To seek, notwithstanding all our discouragements, the salvation of their souls.Learn hence —

1. The importance of the ministry;

2. The duty of those who are ministered unto.

(G. Simeon, M. A.)

How does any man know but the very oath he is swearing, the lewdness he is committing, may be scored up by God as one item for a new rebellion? We may be rebels, and yet neither vote in Parliament, sit in committees, or fight in armies. Every sin is virtually a treason, and we may be guilty of murder by breaking other commandments besides the sixth.

(R South.)

"There is as much felony in coming pence as shillings and pounds" ( Manton). The principle is the same, whatever the value of the coin may be: the prerogative of the Crown is trenched upon by the counterfeiter, even if he only imitates and utters the smallest coin of the realm. He has set the royal sign to his base metal, and the small money value of his coinage is no excuse for his offence. Anyone sin wilfully indulged and persevered in is quite sufficient to prove a man to be a traitor to his God. The spirit of rebellion is the same whatever be the manner of displaying it. A giant may look out through a very small window, and so may great obstinacy of rebellion manifest itself in a little act of wilfulness.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Like as the fountain, though no man draw of it, doth still send forth his springs; or as a river, though no man drink of it, yet doth it keep his course, and flow nevertheless; even so it behoveth him that preacheth the word of God, to do what lieth in his power, though no man give any attentiveness, or have any care to follow the same.

(J. Spencer.)

Impudent children and stiff-hearted.
1. Progress in sin makes impudent. It is an exceeding evil to be past shame, to be impudent in sinning. If ever God show mercy to such sinners, they must be ashamed.

2. Where there is an impudent face there is a hard, stiff heart. And this is one of the greatest evils.

3. God sends His prophets and ministers about hard services, such as are full of discouragements when looked upon with a carnal eye.

4. Ministers should not so much look at the persons they are sent to, or the event of their ministry, as at their call. God's will and command must content us, support us. What if we be scoffed at, reviled, made the offscouring and filth of the world; yet here is the comfort of a true prophet, of a true minister, Christ sent him; and He that set him to work will pay him his wages, whether they hear or hear not to whom he is sent.

5. Those who are sent of God must deliver, not their own, but God's message.

(W. Greenhill, M. A.)

"We may preach and preach," said a great bishop once to his ordinands, "and our words will seem to fall upon a stone, and not upon a man's heart." Under any such trials of patience and hopefulness, Ezekiel's experience will prove helpful. How awful is the reason assigned! They "will not hearken unto thee, for they will not hearken unto Me." As our Lord said long afterwards (John 15:18), the servant could not expect to be welcomed when the Lord had been in effect rejected, The exiles' hearts were not right with God; therefore, of course, they could not appreciate God's envoy. What they said, as he reports it, exhibits human perversity in some very advanced forms, which are by no means obsolete; it is only too easy to translate their objections into language which is anything but dead. Hear some of them complain that the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. "We are punished because our fathers sinned; is that fair? Can the way of the Lord be called straight: It is not straight, but twisted, contorted, and our sense of justice is shocked": as many nowadays declare that the inequalities of human condition, or other natural facts which "cannot be smoothed over or explained away," have made them incapable of believing that the world is governed by a righteous Providence. Or there are these who openly say, "We will be as the heathen": it is the cry of that wild impatience which would fain get rid of the responsibilities avowedly involved in the profession of religion. Or if the mood is not so distinctly rebellious, it is that of a sullen despair which masks itself under an apparent acknowledgment of sin: "Our hope is lost, we are cut off, we pine away in our transgressions, — how then should we live?" The gloom, we see, is faithless, even if it does not reach the point of revolt. Again, there are others who reject, as we might say, on the grounds of "common sense and common experience," the supernatural character of prophecy; "every vision faileth" predictions are disproved, or, to quote a modern dictum, "miracles do not happen." Ezekiel is, in effect, bluntly told that "facts are against him." Or even, say others, "if there is something in his prophecies, the vision is of times far off": things will last our time. we need not disturb ourselves — as a comfortable selfishness has often persuaded itself before some great "Day of the Son of Man," e.g., in the years that ushered in the French Revolution. Or others have their own prophets, much better worth hearing than Ezekiel, who tell them what is pleasant to think of, with no austere requirements, no rigid prohibitions, no croaking "bodements" of a dismal, intolerable future; the result of which is, that "the hands of the wicked are strengthened to go on in their evil way" by "visions of a peace that is no peace." Or the style and contents of Ezekiel's preaching are cavilled at: the misgivings which it secretly awakens are silenced by critical remarks on its obscurity: "They say of me. Doth he not speak parables?" Practical men, they assume, may web dispense with attending to a voice that cannot put plain meaning into plain words. Or there are others, probably among the younger sort, who at first sight seem more promising; they listen to the prophet with real enjoyment, as they might to one who can sing pleasantly and "play well"; only it is a mere aesthetic pleasure, a gratification of the sense of beauty for its own sake, with no moral movement of the will: "they hear thy words, but they do them not." Or, lastly, there are men grave and "highly respectable," who come with all appearance of seriousness to sit before Ezekiel as pupils, and inquire, through him. of the Lord; but he is bidden to repel them as self-deceivers who have set up, and retain, "their idols in their hearts": favourite sins with them prove stumbling blocks to bar all progress upward; therefore on them shall come the doom of being "answered according to their idols." Ezekiel's ministry was, as we thus see, preeminently a ministry of penetration into character. Its leading feature is a close, severe, persistent dealing with conscience; he has been truly called "the prophet of personal responsibility." He shows that if, to some extent, heredity involves very real disadvantage, if children suffer because parents or ancestors have sinned, yet in the last resort no one soul will be spiritually rejected from the mercies and blessings of the Divine covenant simply on account of the sins of other persons, which he has not personally shared in or made his own. So does Ezekiel prepare the way for that Saviour who, while He built up His Church as a spiritual home for all believers, conferred a new dignity, sacredness, preciousness, on each individual soul for whom He died. What a thought it is, the interest that the Most High God takes in each one of us singly! That fact has a twofold bearing: it imposes on us the obligation of walking in the fear of the Lord, of standing in awe and striving not to sin, of recognising that the revelation of a true God, as culminating in the incarnation of a Son of God who gave Himself up for us all, must needs have a stern side. But the other aspect of our personal relation to God is that in which the Gospel mainly presents Him — that which was illuminated by the Cross and summarised in St. John's assertion that He is Love.

(Canon Bright.)

Shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
God will leave wicked men without excuse. It is God's intention; they shall never be able to challenge Me, nor to justify themselves. God's primary intentions, where He sends prophets and means of grace, are the good of His elect, their comfort, sanctification, and salvation; but His secondary intentions are the iuexeusableness of the wicked, and their just damnation. When God sends His word to any place, it shall and must prosper in the thing whereunto He sends it (Isaiah 55:11); be it to win and draw, or to harden and make inexcusable. See Isaiah 6:9, 10.

(W. Greenhill, M. A.)

"They shall know there hath been a prophet amongst them"; his person, his pains, his truths, his life, his sufferings, his death, will all come in for witnesses one day. Every prophet, every preacher that Christ sends, is a witness, as well as an officer or a minister; I have made "thee a minister and a witness" (Acts 26:16). All faithfnl ministers are Christ's witnesses (Acts 1:8). They bear witness of Christ and His doctrine; and if we receive not Him and His doctrine, they will be Christ's witnesses against us. As for Me and My prophets, My ministers, you despised, or only gave the hearing, and that was all: and My charge is not false; here are My witnesses. What say you to it? Speak, you ministers of such a city, and such a place. What, did you not preach many a sermon, shed many a tear, sweat many a drop, make many a prayer for them? did ye not early and late watch for the good of their souls? etc. Yea, Lord, but they would not receive us, they would not believe our report we made of Thee, they would not take Thy yoke upon them, etc.; we shook off the dust of our feet against them. This will be dreadful, when such witness of the prophets comes in against hearers.

(W. Greenhill, M. A.)

The verification of the compass is a matter of serious importance in navigation." The vessel is moored, and by means of warps to certain government buoys, she is placed with her head toward the various points of the compass, one after another. The bearing of her compass on board, influenced as that is by the attraction of the iron she carries, is taken accurately by one observer in the vessel, and the true bearing is signalled to him by another observer on shore, who has a compass out of reach of the local attraction of the ship. The error in each position is thus ascertained, and the necessary corrections are made. Now in the Church your people are like that observer on board ship. Their consciences have been all the week affected by the influence of things immediately around them, so that they are in danger of making serious mistakes even in their reading of the Book of God. But in the pulpit, you are like the observer on shore. You are away from the magnetic agencies — mostly metallic — which so seriously affect them; therefore you can signalise to them their 'true bearings,' and thus prepare them for the voyage of the week which is to follow."

(W. M. Taylor.)

Ezekiel, Israelites
Ear, Fail, Forbear, House-they, Listen, Midst, Not-for, Prophet, Rebellious, Refuse, Uncontrolled, Whether, Yet
1. Ezekiel's commission
6. His instruction
9. The scroll of his heavy prophecy

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ezekiel 2:1-7

     7758   preachers, call

Ezekiel 2:2-5

     3224   Holy Spirit, and preaching

Ezekiel 2:3-6

     4540   weeds

Ezekiel 2:4-5

     6245   stubbornness

Ezekiel 2:5-8

     6223   rebellion, of Israel

Endurance of the World's Censure.
"And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them; neither be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions; be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house."--Ezekiel ii. 6. What is here implied, as the trial of the Prophet Ezekiel, was fulfilled more or less in the case of all the Prophets. They were not Teachers merely, but Confessors. They came not merely to unfold the Law, or to foretell the Gospel,
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

Epistle xxxvi. To Maximus, Bishop of Salona .
To Maximus, Bishop of Salona [113] . Gregory to Maximus, &c. When our common son the presbyter Veteranus came to the Roman city, he found me so weak from the pains of gout as to be quite unable to answer thy Fraternity's letters myself. And indeed with regard to the nation of the Sclaves [114] , from which you are in great danger, I am exceedingly afflicted and disturbed. I am afflicted as suffering already in your suffering: I am disturbed, because they have already begun to enter Italy by way
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Epistle Xlv. To Theoctista, Patrician .
To Theoctista, Patrician [153] . Gregory to Theoctista, &c. We ought to give great thanks to Almighty God, that our most pious and most benignant Emperors have near them kinsfolk of their race, whose life and conversation is such as to give us all great joy. Hence too we should continually pray for these our lords, that their life, with that of all who belong to them, may by the protection of heavenly grace be preserved through long and tranquil times. I have to inform you, however, that I have
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

St. Malachy Becomes Bishop of Connor; He Builds the Monastery of iveragh.
16. (10). At that time an episcopal see was vacant,[321] and had long been vacant, because Malachy would not assent: for they had elected him to it.[322] But they persisted, and at length he yielded when their entreaties were enforced by the command of his teacher,[323] together with that of the metropolitan.[324] It was when he was just entering the thirtieth year of his age,[325] that he was consecrated bishop and brought to Connor; for that was the name of the city through ignorance of Irish ecclesiastical
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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