But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you are to tell them, 'This is what the Lord GOD says.' Whoever listens, let him listen; and whoever refuses, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.
The wise man has said, "There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." There are those who speak when they would do well to hold their peace; there are those who are speechless when it becomes them to utter their mind with boldness. A prophet is emphatically one who speaks for God; a silent prophet is a paradox. Yet, as Ezekiel was, of all his order, the one whose ministry was especially a ministry of symbol, it is only in harmony with his peculiar vocation that, for a time and for a purpose, he should be as one dumb. On the other hand, the abundance of his utterances is apparent from the length to which the book of his prophecies extends. There were reasons fur both his dumbness and his speech.
I. THE TESTIMONY OF SILENCE. That God should enjoin one of his own prophets to silence is certainly a very remarkable fact, and one that needs explanation.
1. It is evidence of Israel's unbelief and inattention. When the people refused to hear, there was a solemn dignity in the refusal of the prophet any longer to speak.
2. It is in rebuke of Israel's attempt to silence the Lord's messenger. The people would have their monitor hold his peace; and God gave them their will. The oracle was dumb.
3. The silencing of the prophet was judicial. Punishment is a reality; and severe indeed is the penalty inflicted upon that nation in which the voice of God's prophets is silenced. The effects of such sin recoil upon the sinners' heads.
4. Such silencing was suggestive. It offered opportunity for reflection; it called for consideration regarding the future; it may well have appeared to the thoughtful premonitory of worse calamities to follow.
II. THE TESTIMONY OF SPEECH.
1. This is the result of Divine preparation: "When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth." The same power which, at one time and for one purpose, closes the lips, at another time and lot another purpose, opens them. So long as God withholds the message, the prophet is silenced; no sooner is the message conveyed to the prophet than he is empowered to utter it.
2. This is in fulfilment of a Divine commission: "Thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God." A command like this may well unseal the lips. The man who is convinced that he is justified in thus prefacing his utterances may well speak, whether his message be palatable or unpalatable, whether it bring the messenger praise or blame from his fellow men. 3 This accompanied by Divine authority: "He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear." It is for the people's own advantage that the prophet witnesses; if he warns, it is that they may escape threatened danger; if he promises, it is that they may obtain blessings; if he commands, it is that they may obey, and secure the rewards of obedience. Accordingly, it is for the people to consult their own highest interests. But in any case they are subject to Divine authority; from that, and all that it involves, there is no escape.
1. God has different ways of dealing with men; sometimes not only different, but apparently opposite ways, as in the case before us. And indeed, one man may be reached and benefited by speech; another man, by silence.
2. In whatever way God deals with us, we are equally and inevitably responsible. It is indeed in our power to hear or to forbear, i.e. to obey or to disobey. But to every man faith and obedience bring blessing; and moreover (which is still more important), they are in themselves right and becoming. Ours is the privilege; ours is the accountability for its proper use. - T.
That thou shalt be dumb.
After so many years of uninterrupted activity, to be imprisoned, to be silenced, and almost incapable of writing or reading, is mere wearisome than even the pain that often accompanies it; and yet, hence the following instruction may be gathered: —
1. How much activity belongs to some natures, and that this nature is often mistaken for grace.
2. How much we are called to suffer, as well as to do, the will of God. When I have bid one of my children to sit down quietly, and remain silent during my pleasure, I enjoin him a more difficult task than the most active service; and yet I expected it to be done, because I ordered it. How is it that I have not yet learned to sit still, when I am told?
He that heareth let him hear.
"The prescriptions of a physician must not be altered, either by the apothecary or the patient; so we, the preachers, must not alter God's prescriptions, neither must you, the hearers. We must not shun to declare, nor you to receive, 'The whole counsel of God.'".
TopicsEar, Ears, Forbear, Forbearer, Forbeareth, Forbears, Hast, Hearer, Heareth, Hears, Listen, Mouth, Open, Rebellious, Refuse, Refuses, Says, Shut, Sovereign, Speak, Speaking, Talk, Thus, Uncontrolled
Outline1. Ezekiel eats the scroll
4. God encourages him
15. God shows him the rule of prophecy
22. God shuts and opens the prophet's mouth
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 3:26-27
6223 rebellion, of Israel
LibraryCæsarius of Arles.
He was born in the district of Chalons-sur-Saone, A. D. 470. He seems to have been early awakened, by a pious education, to vital Christianity. When he was between seven and eight years old, it would often happen that he would give a portion of his clothes to the poor whom he met, and would say, when he came home, that he had been, constrained to do so. When yet a youth, he entered the celebrated convent on the island of Lerins, (Lerina,) in Provence, from which a spirit of deep and practical piety …
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places
Boniface, Apostle of the Germans.
BONIFACE, or Winfried, as they called him in Anglo-Saxon, born at Crediton in Devonshire, in 680, deserves to be honoured as the father of the German Church, although he was by no means the first who brought the seeds of the Gospel to Germany. Many had already laboured before him; but the efforts which had been made here and there did not suffice to secure the endurance of Christianity amongst the many perils to which it was exposed. Christianity needs to be linked with firm ecclesiastical institutions, …
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places
Epistle xxxiv. To Venantius, Ex-Monk, Patrician of Syracuse .
To Venantius, Ex-Monk, Patrician of Syracuse  . Gregory to Venantius, &c. Many foolish men have supposed that, if I were advanced to the rank of the episcopate, I should decline to address thee, or to keep up communication with thee by letter. But this is not so; since I am compelled by the very necessity of my position not to hold my peace. For it is written, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet (Isai. lviii. 1). And again it is written, I have given thee for a watchman …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
The Greatness of the Soul,
AND UNSPEAKABLENESS 0F THE LOSS THEREOF; WITH THE CAUSES OF THE LOSING IT. FIRST PREACHED AT PINNER'S HALL and now ENLARGED AND PUBLISHED FOR GOOD. By JOHN BUNYAN, London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1682 Faithfully reprinted from the Author's First Edition. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. Our curiosity is naturally excited to discover what a poor, unlettered mechanic, whose book-learning had been limited to the contents of one volume, could by possibility know …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Servant's Inflexible Resolve
'For the Lord God will help Me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set My face like a flint.'--ISAIAH l. 7. What a striking contrast between the tone of these words and of the preceding! There all is gentleness, docility, still communion, submission, patient endurance. Here all is energy and determination, resistance and martial vigour. It is like the contrast between a priest and a warrior. And that gentleness is the parent of this boldness. The same Will which is all submission …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Iranian Conquest
Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving in Coste and Flandin. The vignette, drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a statuette in terra-cotta, found in Southern Russia, represents a young Scythian. The Iranian religions--Cyrus in Lydia and at Babylon: Cambyses in Egypt --Darius and the organisation of the empire. The Median empire is the least known of all those which held sway for a time over the destinies of a portion of Western Asia. The reason of this is not to be ascribed to the shortness of its duration: …
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 9
The Prophet Jonah.
It has been asserted without any sufficient reason, that Jonah is older than Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah,--that he is the oldest among the prophets whose written monuments have been preserved to us. The passage in 2 Kings xiv. 25, where it is said, that Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, prophesied to Jeroboam the happy success of his arms, and the restoration of the ancient boundaries of Israel, and that this prophecy was confirmed by the event, cannot decide in favour of this assertion, …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
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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