A TOUGH ASSIGNMENT
Lord, give me the grace to fulﬁll my assignment.
Read EZEKIEL 2:1—3:15
Ezekiel’s Call to Be a Prophet
2 He said to me, “Son of man,[a] stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.[b] 13 It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.
a Ezekiel 2:1 The Hebrew phrase ben adam means human being. The phrase son of man is retained as a form of address here and throughout Ezekiel because of its possible association with “Son of Man” in the New Testament.
b Ezekiel 3:12 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text sound—may the glory of the Lord be praised from his place
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Ask the Holy Spirit to challenge, encourage and shape you as you read today’s passage.
The descriptions here of the Israelites as rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn (2:3,4,7; 3:9) are among the saddest in the Old Testament. Even now in exile they remain incorrigible in their attitudes and behavior. Disloyal, deﬁant, and unwilling to heed God’s words, they are stony-faced and hard-hearted. Their collective attitude is reflected in the words “your forehead like hardest stone” (3:9), referring to where the Law would normally have been physically tied as a symbol of obedience.
Faced with these awful truths, Ezekiel is given a mission. We know it was overwhelming, evoking a deep emotional response (3:14,15), and, as we see from God’s reassurances to Ezekiel, it is a very daunting prospect. As we read on over the coming days, we shall see just how tough an assignment he is handed. However, one of the distinctive features of this book is the strengthening and equipping role of the Spirit of God in Ezekiel’s life. It is the Spirit that enters him, lifts him to his feet, enables him to hear God’s commission, and moves him from one place to another. He is not alone; God’s words are literally fed to him; strength and protection are promised and delivered to him.
We read that he was bitterly angry as he was led away (3:14). Whatever the cause—identiﬁcation with God’s righteous anger, profound resentment at being singled out for such a task, or a mix of both—Ezekiel knows that the “strong hand of the Lord [is upon] him” (3:14). Eventually, he will be vindicated and acknowledged as a true prophet (2:5) by the very people to whom he must carry a devastating message.
Pray for church leaders in their “speaking truth to power” in church and nation, that God will strengthen them by his Spirit with his courage and wisdom.
Lord, we understand that those around us are not interested in our message, but we trust that through Your grace we can deliver the message faithfully.