WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Lord, give me the ears to recognize when You are speaking.
Read EZEKIEL 3:16–27
Ezekiel’s Task as Watchman
16 At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
22 The hand of the Lord was on me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” 23 So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown.
24 Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people. 27 But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.
a Ezekiel 3:18 Or in; also in verses 19 and 20
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.
“God, be my joy and strength; God, be my light and guide; God, be my hope and peace; God, be with me this day and forever” (David Adam, Walking in the Light, 47).
A week has passed by and God speaks again to Ezekiel in order to impress upon him the urgency and gravity of his task. He describes Ezekiel as a watchman, like Habakkuk (Hab. 2:1), signifying that his appointment as a prophet to warn the exiles of their impending doom is in fact an act of grace on God’s part (John B. Taylor, Ezekiel, 69). Both the intentionally rebellious and the spiritually disoriented need to hear Ezekiel’s warning from God. The “righteous” here are those who show by upright living their adherence to the covenant. The demands of God’s righteousness are constantly reiterated by the prophets in a mix of hating evil and doing good while walking with God (Isa. 1:16–20; Amos 5:14,15; Mic. 6:8). Enthusiastic adherence to religious practices is insufficient; too often this would simply mask attitudes and lifestyles that are abhorrent to God.
Ezekiel is given again the title “son of man” (17). Used more than 90 times, it becomes his normal designation throughout the book. Not found elsewhere in the Old Testament (except Daniel 7:13; 8:17), this title emphasizes the littleness of the prophet in contrast with God’s majesty. Simultaneously, though, he is accorded breathtaking dignity in being elevated by God to speak with him and represent him. In this, Ezekiel is reminded continually of his dependence on the Spirit’s power, which enables him to receive God’s message and deliver it with divine power and authority. In the New Testament, we find the same title given exclusively to Christ to emphasize his humanity and his voluntary dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
In the words of Christopher Wright, “What happens next plumbs the depths of paradox almost to the point of farce” (The Message of Ezekiel, 69). Ezekiel is told that he is to be housebound, tied with ropes, and unable to speak. How, then, shall he fulfill his daunting commission?
What would it mean for you to be a “watchman” or “watchwoman” in your place of work, your street and your family?
Lord, we thank You for this marvelous book, and we ask that You open the eyes of our understanding as we study it.
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