Series on Ezekiel, I The Fall of Jerusalem, B Five Commissions, Text: 2:1-3:27, Title: Send Me? How?


As in the case of Isaiah in chapter 6 of his prophecy, Ezekiel’s vision of God is immediately followed by the call of the prophet. In Isaiah’s case he was preaching to a people who were going to be judged, while Ezekiel was preaching to people who had already been judged. However, they are both assured by God that the obstinate people will not listen to their message. This meant for Ezekiel that he was basically telling the people that they deserved what they got, although he does hold out the promise of future restoration. In this section  Ezekiel is called and commissioned. Think of a call as the inner persuasion from God that we must serve Him, but a commission tells us precisely what we must do for God. The hand of the Lord is on Ezekiel and now we will learn the specifics in five characteristics of Ezekiel’s commission. These should be helpful to us because we too have been called out of darkness into the glorious light of the gospel and we have been commissioned by Jesus in Matthew 28: 18-20, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

I A Courageous Commission

The call in verses 1-7 emphasizes the fact that Ezekiel should not be afraid. Jesus basically told His disciples the same thing, saying that they should not fear men but God in Luke 12: 4 and 5. He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen-for they are a rebellious house-they will know that a prophet has been among them. 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 terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” Since our only hope is in the Lord, our only choice is to obey Him regardless of the consequences.

II A Committed Commission

Now Ezekiel’s commitment is sealed by the eating of the scroll in 2:8-3:9, “But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 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. He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel-not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 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 house.” In spite of the fact that judgments are written on both sides to emphasize the bitterness  and woe of the indictments, when he eats it, it is sweet. This is the point, of course. What is bitter to the hearers must be sweet to the prophet to declare because it is the Word of the Lord. Ezekiel’s face is made harder than flint to carry out this command to speak what God wants and not what people want to hear. Jesus, the servant of the Lord, set His face like a flint to go to Jerusalem to accomplish our salvation (isaiah 50:7). So we like Ezekiel must walk in His steps.

III A Compassionate Commission

In verses 10-15 the Holy Spirit or the Wind of God comes upon Ezekiel to enable him for this ministry. We do not conclude that he was bodily moved from one place to another, but rather that this is part of a vision in  which the chariot of God and the wings of the cherubim are spiritually transporting him to the place of his ministry. This is surely a necessity because Ezekiel is still overwhelmed with the bitterness of his task. Many years ago I heard a message at a missions conference in Lancaster,PA. The speaker reminded us that the heart of a mission is doing what Ezekiel says in verse 15. He sat where they sat.

IV A Constant Commission

In the next section of chapter 3, verses 16 and 17 Ezekiel is appointed a watchman, At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” This is another name for a prophet. Jesus uses this designation in John 10 speaking of John the Baptist. A watchman must not fall asleep on the job. The consequences if he does are severe. So in verses 18-21 Ezekiel is warned of the consequences to himself if he does not warn the wicked to depart from evil and the righteous not to follow evil. If he fails he will be punished with them  because he is supposed to be on guard duty. So are we, as Paul says in Romans 13: 11 and 12, The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

V Controlled Commission

In the closing verses of chapter 3 Ezekiel is warned of the cost of obedience. That obedience is to be total, no matter how hard. in verses 24-28 he must speak only when he is told to speak and be silent when told to be silent, Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house.  And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. 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 him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” But before he enters this difficult and dangerous mission he is given another vision of the Lord in verses 22 and 23 and thereby assured that this is God’s work and the Lord is with him, The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.”  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. When we speak the Word of the Lord, Isaiah 55:11 assures us that we may be sure that it will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires, and achieve the purpose for which He sends it.