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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 3

 

 

Verses 1-15

Ezekiel 2:8 to Ezekiel 3:15. His inspiration is suggestively described by the symbolical swallowing of a book-roll. In Jer. (Jeremiah 1:9) it is more immediately conceived as due to the touch of the Divine Hand upon the prophet's lips: but by the publication of Dt. thirty years before (621 B.C.) the book had begun to hold a place in the religion of Israel which it had never held before (p. 90), and it is significant, not to say ominous, that Ezekiel is represented as owing his message and his inspiration to a book. The "lamentations, mourning, and woe" (Ezekiel 2:10) inscribed in the visionary book do, in point of fact, faithfully describe the general contents and temper of Ezekiel's message throughout the earlier part of his ministry and the first half of his book (Ezekiel 1-24), i.e. down to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Though this conception of inspiration might seem mechanical and superficial, it has some profoundly suggestive features. In particular it implies that the message he is to deliver must be his own. It is God's ultimately, but Ezekiel must make it his own, work it into the very fibre of his being, assimilate it, as we should say—this is the meaning of the strong language in Ezekiel 3:3—until it is himself that he is uttering. When he eats the roll. bitter as are its contents, it is as sweet as honey in his mouth, for it is sweet to do the will of God and to be trusted with tasks for Him.

But again he is reminded of the sternness of that task. He is sent to a stubborn people who will be infinitely less responsive to the Divine message than heathen foreigners would have been: this sorrowful comparison is drawn often enough in prophecy from Jonah to our Lord (Matthew 11:21, Luke 4:24-27) between the susceptibility of the unprivileged heathen and the callousness of privileged Israel. But with resolute face the prophet is to go forward to meet their hard and resolute faces, and fearlessly deliver the message of the God who has called and can equip and sustain him.

That, then, is the summons he seems to hear from the awful Figure upon the throne of the mysterious chariot. Then once more the whirr of the wings and the roar of the wheels is heard "when the glory of Yahweh rose from its place" (as we should probably read at the end of Ezekiel 3:12); and the chariot departed, leaving the prophet, on return to normal consciousness, in a state of reaction graphically described as bitterness and heat of spirit. In this mood he found his way to Tel-abib, a colony of his fellow-exiles, apparently at or near his home, where he remained for a week in a state of utter stupefaction, dumb and motionless.


Verses 16-21

Ezekiel 3:16-21. The Pastoral Charge.—At the end of the week he receives another Divine message, this time of a more explicit kind and unaccompanied by vision. His task is now defined as that of a watchman. As it is the watchman's business to detect and give warning of danger, so it is the prophet's business to warn individual men of the coming catastrophe which he himself so clearly sees. It is not enough to warn the crowd: he must deal personally with the individuals good and bad, who compose the crowd, and warn them solemnly, each and all, the good no less than the bad—the bad to turn from his evil way, and the good to persist to the end without swerving in the good way; for the destiny of men will be determined by the character and conduct they exhibit when the hour of judgment strikes.

This is a passage of great importance, emphasizing the idea of individual responsibility but applying it more particularly to the calling of the prophet or preacher. There is a sense in which he is responsible for the souls of his hearers; and if one of them dies unwarned, then the prophet is his murderer. For the first time in Hebrew history the prophet becomes a pastor; he has the "care of souls."


Verses 22-27

Ezekiel 3:22-27. A Period of Silence.—Another ecstatic mood falls upon Ezekiel, accompanied by a vision similar to the former (ch. 1) but not this time described. The Divine voice seems to decree for him a period of temporary silence and inactivity. Perhaps Ezekiel 3:25 should read, "I will lay bands on thee and bind thee": at any rate, he is restrained in some way, whether, as some suppose, by some physical disability (e.g. catalepsy) or merely by the angry incredulity of his hearers, from proclaiming his message in public. He does not open his mouth, except in his own house to those who consult him privately (cf. Ezekiel 8:1), until his message is confirmed by the fall of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21 f.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezekiel-3.html. 1919.

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