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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Ezekiel 3

 

 

Verse 1

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.

Eat this roll, and go speak. God's messenger must first inwardly appropriate God's truth himself, before he "speaks" it to others (note, Ezekiel 2:8). Symbolic actions were, when possible and proper, performed outwardly; otherwise, internally and in spiritual vision, the action so narrated making the naked statement more intuitive and impressive, by presenting the subject in a concentrated, embodied form.


Verse 2

So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 3

And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. It was in my mouth as honey for sweetness - Psalms 19:10; Psalms 119:103; Revelation 10:9, where, as here, Ezekiel 3:14, the "sweetness" is followed by "bitterness," - the former being due to the painful nature of the message; the latter, because it was the Lord's service which he was engaged in; and his eating the roll, and finding it sweet, implied that, divesting himself of carnal feeling, he made God's will his will, however painful the message that God might require him to announce. The fact that God would be glorified was his greatest pleasure.


Verse 4

And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 5

For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel;

Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language - (see margin, Hebrew, 'deep of lip and heavy of tongue'-i.e, men speaking an obscure and unintelligible tongue). Even they would have listened to the prophet; but the Jews, though addressed in their own tongue, will not hear him.


Verse 6

Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.

Not to many people. It would have increased the difficulty had he been sent not merely to one but to "many people," differing in tongues, so that the missionary would have needed to acquire a new tongue for addressing each. The later mission of the apostles to many peoples, and the gift of tongues for that end, are foreshadowed (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:21 with Isaiah 28:11).

Had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened - (Matthew 11:21; Matthew 11:23).


Verse 7

But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

They will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me - (John 15:20). Take patiently their rejection of thee, because I thy Lord bear it along with thee.


Verse 8

Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.

Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces. His name, "Ezekiel," means one 'strengthened by God.' Such he was in godly firmness, in spite of his people's opposition, according to the divine command to the priest tribe to which he belonged (Deuteronomy 33:9).


Verse 9

As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.

As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead. So Messiah, the antitype (Isaiah 50:7; cf Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:17).


Verse 10

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.

All my words ... receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. The transposition from the natural order, namely, first receiving with the ears, then in the heart, is designed. The preparation of the heart for God's message should precede the reception of it with the ears (cf. Proverbs 16:1; Psalms 10:17).


Verse 11

And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.

Thy people - who ought to be better disposed to hearken to thee, their fellow-countryman, than hadst thou been a foreigner (Ezekiel 3:5-6).


Verse 12

Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place.

The spirit took me up. So in Acts 8:39. Ezekiel's abode heretofore had not been the most suitable for his work. He therefore is guided by the spirit to Tel-abib, the chief town of the Jewish colony of captives; there he sat on the ground, "the throne of the miserable" (Ezra 9:3; Lamentations 1:1-3), seven days, the usual period for manifesting deep grief (Job 2:13), thus winning their confidence by sympathy in their sorrow (see Psalms 137:1).

I heard behind me the voice of a great rushing, saying ... He is accompanied by the cherubim (Eve. ) which had been manifested at Chebar (Ezekiel 1:3-4), after their departure from Jerusalem. They now are heard moving with the "voice of a great rushing (the frequent accompaniment of the manifestation of God's presence, cf. Acts 2:2), saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place" - i:e, moving from the place in which it had been at Chebar, to accompany Ezekiel to his new destination (Ezekiel 9:3); or "from his place" may rather mean, in His place and manifested "from" it. Though God may seem to have forsaken His temple He is still in it, and will restore His people to it. His glory is "blessed," in opposition to those Jews who spoke evil of Him, as if He had been unjustly rigorous toward their nation (Calvin).


Verse 13

I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.

I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another - "touched," literally, kissed-i.e, closely embraced.

A noise of a great rushing typical of great disasters impending over the Jews A noise of a great rushing - typical of great disasters impending over the Jews.


Verse 14

So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.

I went in bitterness - sadness on account of the impending calamities of which I was required to be unwelcome messenger. But the "hand," or powerful impulse of Yahweh, urged me forward.


Verse 15

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Tel-abib. Tel means an 'elevation.' It is identified by Michaelis with Thallaba on the Chabour. Perhaps the name expressed the Jews' hopes of restoration, or else the fertility of the region. Abib means the green ears of grain which appeared in the month Nisan, the pledge of the harvest.

I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. This is the Hebrew margin reading [ waa'eesheeb (Hebrew #3427)]. The text is rather [ wa'eesheer (Hebrew #7788) from shuwr (Hebrew #7788), to look] 'I beheld them sitting there', (Gesenius); or 'And those that were settled there,' namely, the older settlers, as distinguished from the more recent ones alluded to in the previous clause. The ten tribes had been long since carried away by Shalmaneser king of Asyria, and settled on the Chabor or Habor (2 Kings 18:6).


Verse 16

And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 17

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

I have made thee a watchman. Ezekiel alone among the prophets is called a "watchman," not merely to sympathize, but to give timely warning of danger to his people, where none was suspected. Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:1) speaks of standing upon his "watch," but it was only in order to be on the look out for the manifestation of God's power (so Isaiah 52:8; Isaiah 62:6); not as Ezekiel, to act as a watchman to others.


Verse 18

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked ... man. The repetition implies that it is not enough to warn once in passing, but that the warning is to be inculcated continually (2 Timothy 4:2. "Be instant in season, out of season;" Acts 20:31, "By the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears").

To save his life - Ezekiel 2:5 had seemingly taken away all hope of salvation; but the reference there was to the mass of the people whose case was hopeless-a few individuals, however, were reclaimable.

The same wicked man shall die in his iniquity - (John 8:21; John 8:24). Men are not to flatter themselves that their ignorance, owing to the negligence of their teachers, will save them (Romans 2:12, "As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law").


Verse 19

Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

If ... he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way. "Wickedness" and "wicked way" express internal wickedness of heart and external wickedness of the life respectively.

Thou hast delivered thy soul - (Isaiah 49:4-5; Acts 20:26, "I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel God").


Verse 20

Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness - not one "righteous" as to the root and spirit of regeneration (for such a one will not be "forsaken utterly" by the Spirit of God, seeing that he is "the work of God's own hands," who will therefore keep him from being lastingly "hurt" by Satan, Psalms 89:33; Psalms 138:8; Isaiah 26:12; Isaiah 27:3; John 10:28; Philippians 1:6), but as to its outward appearance and performances. The watchman can only judge by appearances, and cannot know, except by their final perseverance, who are really God's people (Hebrews 3:6). So the "righteous" (Proverbs 18:17; Matthew 9:13). As in Ezekiel 3:19 the minister is required to lead the wicked to good, as in Ezekiel 3:20 to confirm the well-disposed in their duty.

And commit iniquity - i:e., give himself up wholly to it (1 John 3:8-9); because even the best often fall, but not willfully and habitually.

And I lay a stumblingblock before him. Not that God tempts to sin (James 1:13-14) but God gives men over to judicial blindness, and to their own corruptions (Psalms 9:16-17; Psalms 94:1-23, when they "like not to retain God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26); just as, on the contrary, God makes "way of the righteous plain," so that they do "not stumble," (Proverbs 4:11-12; Proverbs 15:19). Calvin refers "stumblingblock" not to the guilt, but to its punishment: 'I bring ruin on him.' The former is best. Ahab, after a kind of righteousness (1 Kings 21:27-29), relapsed, and consulted lying spirits in the mouth of his false prophets; so God permitted one of these to be his "stumblingblock" both to sin in going up to battle with the Syrian king at Ramoth-gilead and its corresponding punishment (1 Kings 22:21-23) in his being slain there.

His blood will I require at thine hand - (Hebrews 13:17, "They watch for your souls as they that must give account.")


Verse 21

Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 22

And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.

The hand of the Lord was there upon me - (Ezekiel 1:3).

Go forth into the plain - in order that he might there, in a place secluded from unbelieving men, receive a fresh manifestation of the divine glory, to inspirit him for his trying work.


Verse 23

Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face.

The glory of the Lord stood there - (Ezekiel 1:28. "This was the appearance of the likeness glory of the Lord").


Verse 24

Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.

Set me upon my feet - having been previously prostrate and unable to rise until raised by the divine power.

Shut thyself within thine house - implying that, in the work he had to do, he must look for no sympathy from man, but must be often alone with God, and draw his strength from Him (Fairbairn). 'Do not go out of thy house until I reveal the future to thee by signs and words,' which God does in the following chapters down to the eleventh. Thus a representation was given of the city shut up by siege (Grotius). Thereby God proved the obedience of His servant, and Ezekiel showed the reality of his call, by proceeding, not through rash impulse, but by the directions of God (Calvin).


Verse 25

But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them:

They shall put bands upon thee - not literally, but spiritually the binding, depressing influence which their rebellious conduct would exert on his spirit. Their perversity, like bands, would repress his freedom in preaching. As in, 2 Corinthians 6:12 Paul uses the term "straitened" of the constraint which the Corinthians laboured under in relation to him, from their want of the largeness of affection toward him which he had toward them. Or else it is said to console the prophet for being shut, up: if thou wert now at once to announce God's message they would rush on thee and bind thee with "bands" (Calvin).


Verse 26

And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb. Israel had rejected the prophets, therefore God deprives Israel of the prophets and of His word-God's sorest judgment (1 Samuel 7:2; Amos 8:11-12).


Verse 27

But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth - opposed to the silence imposed on the prophet, to punish the people (Ezekiel 3:26). After the interval of silence has awakened their attention to the cause of it, namely, their sins, they may then hearken to the prophecies which they would not hearken to before.

He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear - i:e., Thou hast done thy part, whether they hear or forbear. He who shall forbear to hear, it shall be at his own peril; he who hears, it shall be to his own eternal good (cf. Revelation 22:11).

Remarks:

(1) The messenger of God must first appropriate the truths of religion in his own soul before he can look for a blessing on his efforts to make them known to others. However painful it be to announce God's denunciations of judgment against the ungodly, the faithful minister must divest himself of his carnal reluctance to provoke the enmity of those to whom he is sent; and in thus losing his own will in the divine will, he shall experience the Word of God in his mouth to be what Ezekiel found it, as honey for sweetness (Ezekiel 3:3).

(2) Ministers must not be overwhelmed with disappointment because the people among whom they labour will not hearken to them; because their Lord before them was no better received among men than they. He sympathizes with them in their being rejected by their hearers, and makes their cause His own - "They will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto ME." (Ezekiel 3:7).

(3) How amazing is the perversity of self-willed sinners! Possessing spiritual privileges which if many of the pagan cities possessed (Ezekiel 3:6) they would long ago have repented and believed the message of God's grace, these highly favoured professors remain still 'stiff of forehead, and hard of heart' (margin, Ezekiel 3:7).

(4) But the servant of God must not suffer himself to ha daunted and dismayed by the obstinacy of sinners. For the Lord is with him, to make his face strong as adamant against their faces (Ezekiel 3:8-9). The God who sends His messenger has power to carry him through all hindrances. Whether men hear or forbear (Ezekiel 3:11), God will be glorified, Gods messenger will have discharged his responsibility, and so the purpose of the mission will be fulfilled. Meantime the Spirit of God will be the Guide and Director of all the movements of the minister sent by God (Ezekiel 3:12). He first of all prepares the heart of His servant for receiving His words inwardly (Ezekiel 3:10), as well as hearing them with the outward ears. Wherever he may be located the divine presence accompanies him, and, in, contrast to those who would detract from God's glory, the ruling principle of his ministry is the voice which he continually hears as it were behind him, saying, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place" (Ezekiel 3:12). Sadness and bitterness of spirit are sure at times to come over him, when he contemplates the awful doom which awaits impenitent sinners; but the hand of Yahweh is strong upon him, impelling him forward to his duty, while he leaves events with God ( Ezekiel 3:14).

(5) What a pattern Ezekiel is to us when we seek the spiritual good of others! He does not rudely set at nought the usages and feelings of those to whom he was sent, but, according to the Oriental custom of mourners, for seven days "sat where they sat" (Ezekiel 3:15), overwhelmed with grief, and blending his tears with theirs. Having thus won their confidence by sympathy-the grand key to unlock the human heart-he could proceed afterward with the more power to claim their attention to his message from Yahweh (Ezekiel 3:16).

(6) Every minister of God is set as a "watchman," like Ezek iel, to watch continually for souls, and warn them incessantly of danger (Ezekiel 3:17). Four cases are stated for the guidance and warning of the watchman himself: First, When God tells the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, and yet the watchman falls to warn him, to the saving of his life, the result shall be the wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood shall be required at the watchman's hand (Ezekiel 3:18): Secondly, If the watchman warn the wicked, and yet the latter neglect to heed the warning, the wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but the watchman has delivered his soul (Ezekiel 3:19): Thirdly, When the righteous man turneth his righteousness to iniquity, and when God, in judicial displeasure, gives him over to stumbling upon his own sin, he shall die; nor shall his past seeming righteousness avail to save him; but his blood will be required at the hand of the watchman who neglected to warn him: Fourthly, If the watchman so warn the righteous man that he fall not away into sin, the latter shall surely live, and the watchman also has delivered his soul. Hence, we see that not only the ungodly, but also those who we sincerely believe are true children of God, need warning, lest, becoming high-minded and secure, they fall and perish, and so prove that the righteousness which seemed to themselves and others genuine, was not so, but only a shallow and temporary religion, which was not deeply rooted in the heart, nor planted and nourished there by the dews of the Holy Spirit. How solemn, then, are the responsibilities of ministers, and how fearful the guilt which they incur, if any perish by their willful neglect! Also, how the hearers should desire to be faithfully dear with, seeing that the stake at issue is so momentous!

(7) Seclusion and retirement are especially needed by these who have to discharge the duties of a (7) Seclusion and retirement are especially needed by these who have to discharge the duties of a commission from God to men. The manifestation of God's glory to them while they are withdrawn from men, as Ezekiel was "in the plain" (Ezekiel 3:23), or "shut up within the house," in the secret chamber (Ezekiel 3:24), is the best means of inspiriting them for their often disheartening duties. There, from being prostrate before God, they are set by the Spirit upon their feet (Ezekiel 3:24). The withdrawal of the minister of God from the people for a time, while he communes secretly with God, is calculated to arrest the people's attention to his message when God "opens his mouth" (Ezekiel 3:27). Then, when "utterance has been given him to open his mouth boldly to make known" (Ephesians 6:19) the Word of God, he has done his, part, whether men hear or forbear. He who hears, hears to his own salvation; he who forbears, forbears to his own damnation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezekiel-3.html. 1871-8.

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