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Ezekiel 3:1 Then
said to me,
speak to the
ICB: Then the Lord said to
me, "Human being, eat what you find. Eat this scroll. Then go and speak to
the people of Israel."
Young's Literal: Then He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you
find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel."
of man is translated by
the TEV as "mortal man" and the Living Bible as "son of
dust"! If we kept these latter pictures in mind, it would probably
be easier for most of us
not to think more highly of
(ourselves) than (we) ought to think." (Ro 12:3-note
what you find, eat the scroll"
(Ezek 3:10; 2:8, 9; 1Ti4:15; Rev 10:9, 10)
In our society “to eat one's words” is
generally a negative unpleasant experience but in biblical thought it
is an agreeable experience. The message was given by God but was to be
assimilated by the prophet and made his own.
Here’s God’s point -
His Word needs to be digested and consumed. Don’t just nibble – scarf it up,
pig out, chow down! There used to be a Lipton ad that portrayed a bold and
feisty image. The punch line was, "This ain’t no sip’n tea." Well, this
ain’t no sip’n book. The Bible is not a finger food. You’ve got to chew on
its message." (Ref)
is used in 18 verses in the OT prophetic passages (Jer 36:2, 4, 6, 14, 20,
21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 32; Ezek 2:9; 3:1, 2, 3; Zech 5:1, 2).
speak to the house of Israel
(Ezek 3:11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 2:3)
The LORD stretched
out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to (Jeremiah),
"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth." (Jer 1:9)
God had a "seraphim" fly to him
with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with
tongs. And he touched (Isaiah's) mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has
touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven."
And here He had
Ezekiel eat a scroll.
Eating Words -
I read about an Australian woman who developed a craving for paper.
She began her unusual diet as a child, and as she grew older she ate
as many as 10 tissues and a half page of the newspaper every day. The
woman had also consumed small quantities of blotting paper, sheets
from exercise books, and petty cash vouchers.
Of course, there's no
relationship between that woman's strange habit and the symbolic
actions of the prophet Ezekiel. His eating of a scroll was meant to
illustrate a spiritual exercise that all of us should engage in. If we
are to declare God's truth with meaning and power, we must take time
to let it fill our hearts. We need to feel the implications of what
God has said. We are to let His Word become a vital part of us so that
we can't talk about it glibly as uninvolved, detached students, but as
those who have personally "tasted" it.
The actual words and thoughts of
God are revealed in the Bible. Don't just read them and repeat them.
Think them. Feel them. Ask the Lord to clarify them, to make them a
part of your experience, and to teach you.
Yes, today's Bible reading
contains a profound principle:
We must "eat" the Word before we
speak it. Maybe then we won't have to eat our own words later on.
—Mart De Haan
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, teach us from Your holy
The truth that we must know;
And help us share the joyous news
Of blessings You bestow. —D. De Haan
Let God's Word fill your
mind, rule your heart, and guide your
Ezekiel 3:2 So
mouth, and He
English of Septuagint:
So He opened my mouth, and caused me to eat the volume.
Young's Literal: So
I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll.
opened my mouth (Jer 25:17)
Immediate obedience (delayed "obedience" is really disobedience!).
The apostle Paul on trial for
his life was given a similar difficult command from the Lord and yet he
stood firm declaring
King Agrippa, I did not
prove disobedient to the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19)
In the case of both Ezekiel and Paul, their obedience was but an overflow of
their steadfast faith.
As the writer of Hebrews says
without faith it is
impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Heb11:6-note)
When the LORD gives you clear instruction in His Word, do you obey or delay?
Obedience is the door to blessing and usefulness for Kingdom Work.
To reiterate (we need to hear some things over and over!) don't fool
yourself "delayed obedience" is still disobedience!
response of ready reception of God's Word was in stark contrast with the utter
rejection the rebellious house. The clear implication is that Ezekiel also accepted the perfect
will of God because God's word is His will.
Ezekiel's presentation of his body,
mind and spirit to the Lord for His use is a beautiful Old Testament
illustration of Paul's exhortation to all believers today in Romans 12
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service of worship. And
do not be conformed (present
command calling for us to stop this, implying it may be happening) to this
world, but be transformed (present
calls for us to allow this to occur as our lifestyle or practice - remember
God does not expect perfection, but He is commanding direction! ) by the
renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that
which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Ro 12:1-note,
Ezekiel came to know the "will of God" because of his willingness to
humble himself to God. Are you wrestling with God's will for your life?
Ezekiel's submission and reception of the LORD's word gives us a pattern by
which we too can know His "good and acceptable and perfect" will in
our life. Are you in the Word so that His Word can get in "your stomach
and fill your body" and thereby you can be enabled to "prove what the
will of God" is in specific situations?
Ezekiel 3:3 He
said to me,
which I am
giving you." Then I
ate it, and it was
honey in my
BBE: And he said to me, Son of man, let your stomach make a meal of it and let
your inside be full of this roll which I am giving you. Then I took it, and
it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
ICB: The Lord said to me, "Human being, eat this scroll which I am giving you.
Fill your stomach with it." Then I ate it. And it was sweet like honey in my
Young's Literal: And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your
stomach, and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I
ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
application of this passage is that intake of God's Word is to be more than
head knowledge but is to be so devoured that it becomes assimilated as part
of our very being.
As Paul wrote to young Timothy
Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them,
that your progress may be evident to all." (1Ti 4:15NKJV)
Writing to the church at Colossae Paul
Let the word of Christ richly
command to make this our continual pursuit...why? because it is our
within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs...." (Col 3:16-note)
I believe that the vision
or theophany (theos = God + phaino = appear) in chapter 1 was almost
certainly one of many Old Testament appearances of our Lord Jesus Christ
(prior to His incarnation) and so the word Ezekiel ate was the "Word of
Christ" which would soon enable him "with all wisdom" to teach and admonish
his Jewish brethren. (see related topic on
The Angel of Jehovah on this site)
was sweet as honey - What
did it contain? "lamentations, mourning and woe" (Ezek 2:10) Why
then would it be sweet? Although the words were bitter, the scroll tasted
sweet because its contents were God’s word,
and as discussed above would facilitate the carrying out of will of God
which is always pleasing.
David agrees that
The judgments of
the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether." and yet "They are
more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey
and the drippings of the honeycomb." (Ps 19:9-note,
The psalmist writes
How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey
my mouth!" (Ps 119:103-note)
your stomach and fill your body
(Ezek 2:10; Job 32:18, 19; Jer 6:11; 20:9; Jn 7:38) signifies a complete
assimilation of God's Word, not a superficial or simply intellectual reading
of it. Only when God’s Word had become a part of Ezekiel's very being would
he be able to share it with others. In a similar way, when God’s Word
becomes a part of us, we are then equipped and enabled to share the message.
Let me ask you a practical
question? How do you best assimilate it so that it fills your body? Is not
the most practical way to realize this objective memorization of His
precious sweet truth?
of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it
day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is
written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will
have success." (Joshua 1:8-note)
(See also study on
The Power of God's Word)
Memorizing His Word
Primer on Biblical Meditation
I ate it (Ps 119:11-note; Jn
6:53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63)
Ezekiel was to be a prophet to a rebellious people who refused to obey
God, and so the first thing he was asked to do was obey. In
obeying the command to eat, he immediately distinguished himself from the
disobedient people to whom he was sent. And in his act of obedience, he
discovered the taste of the scroll to be “sweet
as honey”. The same
scroll that would taste so bitter to the house of Israel, tasted sweet on
the prophet’s tongue.
There is in every act of obedience
a sweet taste. Obedience as such guarantees no freedom from pain, but it
does bring the satisfaction of a life being fulfilled, a life which is
pleasing to our Father (1Sa 15:22)
it was sweet as honey"
Pr 2:10, 11)
Whenever we "eat" God’s word, we
experience a sweetness, for God’s words always contain hope. Yes, God’s
judgment will come upon the rebellious, but in the midst of wrath He
remembers mercy and so His judgment also holds promise for those who repent
Jeremiah during a difficult
time (read Jeremiah 15:1-15 for the context) said
Thy words were found and I ate
them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I
have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jer15:16)
I have not
departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His
mouth more than my necessary food." (Job 23:12-note)
Comment: I am firmly convinced in
this statement Job we find a major "clue" to "Job's secret of success" in
the midst of unspeakable affliction! As food sustains the physical body,
God's word sustained Job's soul, cp his affirmation in Job 23:10-note.
Food that truly sustains in a time of
trial or temptation is indeed the "bread of life". It is often
(probably usually!) in the humbling
circumstances of the trials that we come to
understand that man
does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out
of the mouth of the LORD." (Dt 8:3, read Dt 8:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
The apostle John describes a similar
experience in the Revelation recording that
the voice which I heard from
heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, "Go, take the book which
is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land." And
I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to
me, "Take it, and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but
in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." And I took the little book out of
the angel's hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when
I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, "You must
prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."
(Re 10:8, 9, 10, 11-note)
Ezekiel 3:4 Then
said to me,
* to the
speak with My
words to them.
English of Greek Septuagint
And he said to me, Son of man,
(2SPAM - command to keep going) thy way, and
(2SAAM = calls for action, sense of urgency) in to the house of Israel,
(2SAAM = do this now, sense of urgency) My words to them.
KJV And he said unto me, Son of
man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my
words unto them.
NRSV: He said to me: Mortal,
go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them.
Then he said: “Son of dust, I am sending you to the people of
Israel with my messages.
And He saith unto me, 'Son of
(qal imperative) in unto the house of Israel, and thou hast spoken (piel
perfect) with My words unto them.
Then He said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of
go, get thee
Note these 2 versions are more accurate
as there are 2 verbs in the original Hebrew (go and enter), whereas NASB and most other modern translations drop one of
these verbs, both of which are commands in the original Hebrew. Note in the
samples above that the Greek Septuagint translates both of these verbs.
Don't be confused by the use of "Israel"
which is here used to refer to Judah.
The context is that he has just eaten the Word of God, been filled with the
Spirit and seen the exalted Lord. Now Ezekiel is commanded to "go".
The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel to
eat a scroll that contained a message full of "lamentations
and mourning and
(Ezek 2:10). Because he was submissive to the Lord and applied the lesson to
his own heart first, he could boldly present the message.
YOU FEED OTHERS!
The messenger of God must fill his
heart and mind with the truths of Scripture. Only as he is faithful to apply
the Word of God to his own life can he honestly give its nourishing
encouragement and exhortation to help others. As believers, we too must
digest the truths of the Bible and allow the Spirit of God to make them a
part of our lives. Then, filled with God's Word, we can speak effectively to
others in need. Before we can serve the Bread of Life to others, we must
feast on it ourselves.
After I have eaten,
And on Your Word have fed,
Help me share with others from
Your precious, living bread. --DJD
is an important command providing specific instructions to Ezekiel from the
One seated upon the chariot like throne.
The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his
steps (Pr 16:9)
at the inception of his prophetic ministry God is carefully "directing
the steps" of Ezekiel, a fact which becomes even more obvious as
one comes to the end of this chapter. The prophet Jeremiah understood this important
"I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself;
nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps." (Jer 10:23)
Watch how Ezekiel responds to the "go"
of the LORD.
do you respond
when the LORD says
and speak with My words to them.
(Ezek 3:11; 2:3, 7; Mt10:5, 6; 15:24; Acts 1:8)
is such a little phrase but it is so important for Ezekiel and every
believer in every age to remember. God explains to Jeremiah why it is to be
not the prophet's words: "Is not
like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?
This is the perfect rhetorical
question (ask merely for the effect with no answer expected or needed).
Whose words do I speak? Out of my mouth comes the word that fills my heart.
Eat (memorize [see
Memorizing His Word],
Primer on Biblical Meditation])
His word like honey each day as if your life depended on it (your spiritual
vitality does!) and then you will be ready to speak His word to anyone who
asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have even though you
yourself may be going through a trial.
Richards points out that
Ezekiel is the model of an unheralded missionary: a man who evangelizes in
his own country. Yes, there’s a need for foreign missionaries. But most
Christians are called to minister to people in their own society, whose
language and customs are familiar. The eager 20-year-old applying to the
mission board for overseas service was asked how many people he had
witnessed to during the preceding week. His answer was, “Well, none.” How
about the preceding month? Six months? Again, the answer was, “No one.” The
chairman of the interviewing board then asked him, “Young man, what makes
you think being overseas will make you into a missionary, when you do no
missionary work at home?" (The 365 day devotional
commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
Ezekiel 3:5 "For
you are not being
sent to a
language, but to the
You are not being sent to
people whose speech you can’t understand, whose language is difficult. You
are being sent to Israel.
"For you are not sent
to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of
Young's Literal: "For you are not being sent to a people of
unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel,
For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult
but to the house of Israel:
(Jonah1:2; 3:2, 3, 4; Acts
26:17,18) (Ps 81:5; Isa 33:19)
For you are not sent to a
people of a foreign speech and of a difficult language" (Amp)
language is hard to understand or difficult to speak" (GWT),
"I am not sending you to a nation that speaks a difficult foreign
"I am not sending you to some far-off foreign land where you can’t
understand the language" (TLB)
is more literally "deep lip and heavy tongue" and refers to a foreign
language. Ezekiel was not commissioned to speak to the Babylonians but to
his own people in their native tongue.
Ezekiel 3:6 nor
understand. But I
sent you to them who
listen to you;
Not to many peoples of foreign speech and of a hard
language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to such
people, they would have listened to you and heeded My words.
Not to a number of peoples whose
talk is strange and whose language is hard and whose words are not clear to
you. Truly, if I sent you to them they would give ear to you.
No, I am not sending you to
people with strange and difficult speech. If I did, they would listen!
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.
Not to big nations that speak
difficult foreign languages, and whose words you would not understand–if I
sent you to them, they would listen to you;
Young's Literal: nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or
difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you
to them who should listen to you;
nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language whose
words you cannot understand:
(Mt 12:41, 42; Lk 11:30, 31, 32)
Character of the Wicked,
Rebellion Against God
to many peoples of foreign speech and of a hard language" (Amp)
is literally "deep speech", conveying the picture of words
that are unfathomable or difficult to comprehend.
language" is literally "heavy
(Hebrew kabed) tongue" denoting speech that is thick or sluggish.
Moses used a similar phrase when objecting to the LORD's commissioning him
to return to Egypt saying
to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor
in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am
of speech and
But I have sent you to them who should listen to you
(If I did, they would listen!)" (TLB)
Brenton's English of the Greek
if I had sent thee to such, they would have hearkened to thee.
them who should listen to you
- Note that most of the other translations give a slightly different meaning
then is apparent in the NASB. E.g., the NIV says
if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you.
The point is that Israel was more
hardened than the worst of the nations round her. Going to another culture
and nation would have been difficult because of the language barrier, the
results would have been more rewarding for they would listen to him. It is
amazing and sad that those who knew nothing of the One Living God would have
been more responsive than those who claimed His Name.
is the Hebrew word shama and means to hear intelligently and
so to listen
with attention with the idea of obeying what you hear. Even Webster's modern
definition says that to really
listen is to "hear
something with thoughtful attention"!
Given this definition,
we must all ask
"Am I a good listener?"
Specifically am I a good listener when God is
speaking? Am I even in His word daily that I might be able to listen? God
says Israel will hear and they will even understand Ezekiel (Ezekiel is not
speaking "unintelligible speech") but they won't
The Greek Septuagint does not use the usual word (akouo =
hear) for hearing but the word (eisakouo) which specifically
describes "active" listening or listening attentively to someone with the
implication of heeding and responding to what is heard.
Indeed when Jonah begrudgingly (contrast his heart attitude with that of
Ezekiel) went to a people "of
(the wicked, vicious Assyrian people) Scripture records that
"the people of Nineveh believed in God;
and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least
of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his
throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and
sat on the ashes. And he issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by
the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock
taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. "But both man and beast
must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each
may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands."
Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that
we shall not perish?" When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their
wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared
He would bring upon them. And He did not do it." (Jonah 3:5-10,
see also discussion of next verse)
Paul picks up on this same theme in Romans 9 in explaining how it was that
many of the Jews had "missed" salvation reminding his readers
Gentiles ("peoples of unintelligible speech" like the
Assyrians Jonah spoke to), who did not pursue righteousness, attained
righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith
(they were saved by faith) but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness,
did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith,
but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling
stone" just as they would "stumble" over Ezekiel's message for God
forewarned Ezekiel that Israel will not be willing to listen
(and obey)" because all of them are "hard headed and hard hearted"! (Ro
9:30, 31, 32, 33-see
Ezekiel 3:7 yet
Israel will not be
listen to you,
since they are not
listen to Me.
NLT I am
sending you to the people of Israel, but they won't listen to you any more
than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and
NET But the house of
Israel will not listen to you, because they are not willing to listen to me,
for the whole house of Israel is hard-headed and hard-hearted.
yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you since they
are not willing to listen to Me. :
(Lk 10:16; 13:34; 19:14; Jn 5:40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47; Jn 15:20, 21,
22, 23, 24)
the house of Israel will not listen to you and obey (Amp)
The Amplified translation ("will not
listen to you and obey") emphasizes the important link between
listening and obeying, which is implicit in the Hebrew (shama')
and Greek verbs used to translate "listen".
James reinforces the importance of this principle calling on us
(in truth he is commanding us) to be
of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if
anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at
his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone
away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who
looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not
having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be
blessed in what he does." (Jas 1:22, 23, 24-note,
house of Israel will not be willing to listen
Ezekiel’s task did not involve linguistic barriers. Indeed, language
barriers can be overcome but the barrier of a hard forehead and a stiff
heart is difficult to penetrate.
(speaking to King Saul after he had spared King Agag the Amalekite) said
"Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in
obeying (shama' =
in Ezekiel 3) the voice of
the LORD? Behold, to obey (shama' =
is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams, for rebellion (same Hebrew word describing Israel as "rebellious") is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and
idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also
rejected you from being king."
(1Sa 15:22, 23)
And so too He would reject those who were
unwilling to listen but remember that because of His eternal, unconditional
covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He would preserve a remnant of
Israel who did listen, who did obey, and who were made righteous by faith.
So the phrase "house of Israel" does no signify ALL of Israel denied Him and
His Word, although it does appear that the majority did what was right in
their own eyes. Things haven't changed much have they!
The LORD had similarly warned Isaiah
not to expect dramatic results from his ministry, commissioning him with the
Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on
listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.'
Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, And their
eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand
with their hearts, and return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?"
And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses
are without people, and the land is utterly desolate" (Isaiah 6:9, 10, 11)
In a parallel passage in the New Testament Jesus
came to His own
(the Jews) and those who were His own did not receive Him. (Jn 1:11)
As a result of their refusal to receive
Jesus as their saving Messiah
began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done,
because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you,
Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which
occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
"Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
in the day of judgment, than for you. "And you, Capernaum, will not be
exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles
had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this
day. "Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land
of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you." (Mt 11:20, 21, 22, 23,
they are not willing to listen to Me"
Jesus also warned His disciples that
The one who listens to you listens to Me,
and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the
One who sent Me. (Lk 10:16)
There is none so deaf as the person who
does not want to hear. Israel’s unnatural unresponsiveness would not result
from a lack of understanding but from a spiritual barrier, a deliberate
The point is that Ezekiel is not to "take
it personally" when his message is rejected for this was in the "job
description" for God's prophets.
The BKC explains that
the people were not prepared to ”listen
to“ or respond to Ezekiel because they were not willing to listen to God.
Their spiritual deafness was acquired over long years of exposure to and
rejection of God’s word given by the prophets. Israel’s response to God in
the past was a harbinger of the response Ezekiel could expect.
the LORD (had) said to Samuel, "Listen to the
voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have
not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over
them. (1Sa 8:7)
Jeremiah had a similar experience declaring that for
three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you
again and again, but you have not listened (shama' = listen
attentively so as to obey) and the LORD has sent to you all His servants
the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your
ear to hear" the message of His prophets which was
Turn now everyone from his evil way and
from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the LORD has given
to you and your forefathers forever and ever...." (Je 25:3, 4, 5; cf
Jer 44:4, 5, 16)
Does this warning to Ezekiel have practical application for God's ambassadors today? In
the "job description" of a disciple Jesus forewarned us to not be
surprised at resistance and rejection but to
Remember the word that I
said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted
Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep
yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake,
because they do not know the One who sent Me." (Jn 15:20, 21)
Have you experienced
persecution (for His Name's sake) at work, in your school, even in
your own family? (cp 2Ti 3:12-note,
If so, dear tried and true saint, listen to Jesus' encouraging words
Blessed are those who have been
persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and
persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely,
on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad (more
literally jump for joy), for your reward in heaven is great, for
so they persecuted the prophets (like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, et al) who were before you." (Mt
Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate:
All of them are stubborn and
all the people of Israel are stubborn and
will not obey" (NCV)
the whole house of Israel is stubborn of
brow and obstinate in heart." (NAB)
all the children of Israel have a hard
brow and a stiff heart. " (BBE)
BKC explains that "the
whole house of Israel
does not imply that every Israelite had
rejected God, for Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were all
ministering faithfully. God was referring to all parts of Israel rather than
every Israelite. Rebellion had made its way into the royal household, the
temple, the courts of justice, and into every city and town in the land.
Though individuals here and there were still responding to the Lord, the
nation as a whole had turned from Him.
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor
is actually two Hebrew words which literally mean a hard forehead
("stern brows"). The word for “hard” (chazaq) is the
same word as the first half of Ezekiel’s name.
Isaiah records a similar
description of Israel, declaring that
The look on their faces shows
they are guilty of doing wrong. Like the people of Sodom, they are proud
of their sin. They don't care who sees it. How terrible it will be for them!
They have brought much trouble to themselves." (Int'l Children's Bible,
Jeremiah helps us understand the picture of a "hard forehead"
declaring to Israel that
you had a harlot's forehead. You refused
to be ashamed" (Jer3:3)
later adding that "they refused to take correction. They have made
their faces harder than rock. They have refused to repent." (Jer
Sin not only hardens the heart so that
sinning becomes easier, but it produces a contemptuous spirit that is so
deceived that it even disdains God and His right to judge.
is more literally "a stiff heart".
describes the whole house of Israel as fixed and unyielding in
course or purpose with the implication of usually an unreasonable
persistence in such behavior. The whole house of Israel is
perversely adhering to their opinion, purpose, and course (in this case
headed for disaster) in spite of God's reasoning, arguments, and persuasion
through his prophets like Ezekiel. In 3:10 Ezekiel by contrast was to have a
supple, teachable, tender heart ready and willing to receive all of the
Words of the LORD. How is your heart? Tough or tender? Resistant or
receptive to His Word.
Ezekiel 3:8 "Behold,
hard as their
faces and your
hard as their
Behold, I have
made your face strong and hard against their faces and your forehead strong
and hard against their foreheads.
Yet, I will make you as stubborn and as hardheaded as they are.
I have set your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard
against their foreheads.
But now, I am making you as defiant as they are, and as obstinate as they
But see, I have made you hard and stubborn too—as tough as they are.
Young's Literal: 'Lo, I have made thy face strong against their face,
and thy forehead strong against their forehead.
Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as
hard as their foreheads. (Ex 4:15,
16; 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 1Ki 21:20; Is 50:7; Heb 11:27, 32, 33,34, 35, 36, 37)
But I will make you as
unyielding and hardened as they are." (NIV)
I will make you as
stubborn and as tough as they are." (TEV)
(hinneh) calls attention to the text and directs reader to
give special attention. Hinneh can be translated Here!, There!, Look!, Now!
all of which serve as markers used to enliven a narrative, to change a
scene, to emphasize an idea or to call attention to a detail.
God now gives Ezekiel
an encouraging word to enable him to minister in such a discouraging
setting. God knows when and how to encourage us for as Paul recorded
temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man and God is
faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but
with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be
able to endure it." (1Cor 10:13-note)
Note that the verse
does not say "escape" that we may be able to "escape" but that we may
be able to continue to bear up despite difficulty, suffering or persecution.
How does God encourage and undergird Ezekiel?
have made your face as hard as their faces
- This pictures resolve, determination and defiance, providing Ezekiel the
strength and the ability to stand firm in the evil day. Ezekiel is now
steeled to confront his opponents without flinching. The exiles would be a
tough "congregation" but Ezekiel would be an even tougher "preacher" for God
had made him hard, unyielding, stubborn and defiant.
The word for "hard"
is the same Hebrew word forming the first part of Ezekiel's name. And so
even Ezekiel's name ("God is my strength") implied the Lord's
strengthening him for the difficult task. You too as a soldier of the Lord,
can be confident that the Lord always prepares and reassures His messengers
with the needed equipment. It is interesting that the phrase "set your
face" occurs 11 times (click
here) in Ezekiel.
Similarly, God encouraged and equipped Jeremiah
I have made you today as a fortified city (symbol of security &
impregnability), and as a pillar of iron and as
walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its
princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. And they will fight
against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver
you," declares the LORD." (Jer1:18, 19 cf Jer 15:20)
In Jeremiah's darkest hours these words
would sustain him mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, just as would
God's words to Ezekiel. Perhaps today you need to recall God's promise first
given to Israel but in principle applicable to you as a child of God --
Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not
anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I
will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isa41:10)
The prophet Micah
asserts that will be able to reveal God's Word of judgment empowered by the
am filled with power-- with the Spirit of the LORD-- and with justice and
courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin."
hard as their foreheads
Centuries later Stephen a man filled (controlled, empowered) with the Holy
Spirit confronted the Jewish leaders with their hardness declaring
men who are stiff-necked (literally "hard" necked or obstinate) and
uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you
are doing just as your fathers did." (Acts 7:51)
Ezekiel 3:9 "Like
flint I have
forehead. Do not be
afraid of them or be
though they are a
Like an adamant harder
than flint or a diamond point have I made your forehead; fear them not,
neither be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house
English of Greek Septuagint: And it (referring to his forehead) shall be continually stronger
than a rock: be not afraid of them, neither be dismayed at their
faces, because it is a provoking house.
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.
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.”
I will make you
as firm as a rock, as hard as a diamond; don’t be afraid of those rebels.”
Young's Literal: As an adamant harder than a rock I have made thy forehead;
thou dost not fear them, nor art thou affrighted before them, for a
rebellious house are they.'
Like emery (adamant)
harder than flint I have made your forehead
I have made your face harder than flint—like diamond!" (NET)
am making your resolution as hard as a diamond, harder than flint"
Like an adamant harder than flint or a diamond point"
refers to a stone formerly believed to be of impenetrable
hardness and then of any unbreakable or extremely hard substance. The same
Hebrew word is translated "diamond" in (Jer 17:1) where Jehovah
The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus; with
a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart
(Why did one need a diamond point to engrave on their hearts?) and on the
horns of their altars.
The point of the comparison ("like
emery") is that
was used to cut flint or stones as hard as flint and so by analogy Ezekiel's
"forehead" would be fully capable of "cutting" the hard foreheads of the
house of Israel. Hardened in sin as the people were, they would meet
their match in his resolute hardness in standing firm for God. Like diamond,
the hardest substance known, he would resist their browbeating.
Ezekiel was soon to pass from the
"twilight zone" of a visionary encounter with the glory of the LORD into the
"war zone" with the house of Israel. For this spiritual war Ezekiel (and
every saint) needed to
imperative) in the Lord
(Note: "in" = not in your strength but His! cp 2Co 12:9-note,
2Co 12:10-note), and
in the strength of His might" (Ezekiel's name = "God is my
strength") and must "put on the full armor of God, that (he)
may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle
is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of
wickedness in the heavenly places". It was imperative that he "take up the
full armor of God, that (he) may be able to resist in the evil day, and
having done everything, to stand firm." (Eph 6:10-note,
Ep 6:11, 12-note,
Although Ezekiel would
be confronted by resistance from the whole house of Israel he needed to
remember as do all God's soldier saints that
we walk in the flesh (sons of dust), we do not war according to the
flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely
powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations
and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are
taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2Cor 10:3,
BKC comments that
determination would not waver when beset by opposition. ”Flint,“ the hardest
stone in Palestine, was used by Israel for knives (cf. Josh 5:2, 3)
and other implements. Ezekiel’s God-given strength and determination would
withstand any opposition (cf. Jer 1:18)."
I like MacDonald's
servants of Christ must be tough-minded but not hard-hearted."
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them though they are a
rebellious house: (Is 41:10,
14; 50:7; Mic 3:8; 1Ti 2:3; 2Ti 2:6)
So don't be afraid of them or fear their angry looks" (NLT)
Don't be afraid of them. Don't be
terrified in their presence" (GWT)
have no fear of them and
do not be overcome by their looks, for they are an uncontrolled people (BBE)
God's exhortation to Ezekiel "Do
not be afraid" is the
second time (see Ezek 2:6) in the prophet's commissioning that he
has been told there is no reason to fear. The response of the exiles to
Ezekiel's message was not to govern the nature or manner of his ministry. God had similarly encouraged
Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,"
declares the LORD....gird up your loins, and arise, and speak to them all
which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, lest I dismay you
before them." (Jer 1:8 1:17)
This was a message that Jeremiah
later "preached" to himself saying
Let those who persecute me be
put to shame, but as for me, let me not be put to shame. Let them be
dismayed, but let me not be dismayed. Bring on them a day of disaster, and
crush them with twofold destruction!" (Jer17:18)
What God commands (“do not be
afraid”) He gives sufficiency to do (“I have made”) so
God will enable the prophet to live up to his name (“strengthened by God”).
So sure was Ezekiel to be of the Lord
God’s help that he was to resolutely determine to remain unswayed by
whatever hardship might await Him. Jesus demonstrated this same
when the days were approaching for His ascension, that
He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Lk 9:51)
(to be crucified!)
is the Hebrew verb which refers to the shattering of an object and here is
applied figuratively to describe a feeling of discouragement, implying fear,
terror, and/or panic and confusion. Word Biblical Commentary translates this
You will not be afraid of them nor intimidated by
their facial expression rebel community as they are.
I also like the BBE translation of
not be overcome by their looks".
We have all experienced those despising
looks filled with daggers of hatred which cut deep into our innermost being.
God is saying to Ezekiel
"Don't be discouraged, in dread or shattered in
Years earlier God had
given similar encouragement to Israel faced with the certainty of warfare
upon entering Canaan saying
is the one Who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you
or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed." (Deut 31:28)
And to Joshua who
would lead the children of God into the promised land God said
I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be
dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Josh
The promise to Joshua is a
promise available to every child of God in the New Covenant. (cf Heb13:5-note,
Ezekiel need not fear them for he had been armed with the "Spirit of the
Lord" and the "sword of the Spirit" which is
living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and
marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And
there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid
bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (to whom we must give
account)." (Heb 4:12-note,
house in a sense
"Israel's nickname" in Ezekiel is a key phrase occurring 13x in
12v = (Ezek 2:5, 6, 8; 3:9, 26, 27; 12:2, 3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3).
The description that permeates Ezekiel then is
that Israel (Judah) was consistently in active opposition to the authority
of the Most High God. Synonyms of
apropos to Israel include bullheaded, headstrong, intractable, mulish,
perverse, self-willed, stiff-necked, stubborn, unyielding, contumacious,
factious, insurgent, mutinous, seditious, disaffected, disloyal,
disobedient, disorderly, insubordinate, insurrectionary, recalcitrant,
revolutionary, turbulent, ungovernable, unruly, defiant, difficult,
incorrigible, obstinate, refractory, resistant, unmanageable.... just
to mention a few!
Would any of these synonyms describe your current walk
with the LORD?
The Greek Septuagint gives us an
additional insight into the nature/effect of this rebellion.
Eight times in chapters 2-3 "rebellious
house" is translated with
the Greek verb parapikraino (pará = implying
movement toward a certain point + pikrós = bitter, originally
“pointed,” “sharp”) which means to provoke to bitterness or anger, to
exasperate or to arouse to indignation (see only NT use in Heb 3:16-note).
The implication is clear - the house of Israel was continually (the
verb is in the present tense in the Septuagint) provoking God to
anger, arousing the indignation of the Almighty! And such is the effect of
rebellion. Praise God for His lovingkindness and compassion that flow
freely from the Cross of Christ, His precious blood covering all who once
were in the rebel Adam but now by faith are safe in the Ark of Christ, the
glory of the LORD.
Ezekiel 3:10 Moreover,
said to me,
take into your
which I will
speak to you and
English of Greek Septuagint
And he said to me, Son of man,
(2nd person Sing Aorist Act Imperative = do it now, speak of urgency) into thine heart all the words that I have spoken (Perfect
tense = speaks of the permanence of God's Words to Ezekiel) to thee, and
(2nd Sing Present Act
Imperative = command to continually hear) them with thine ears.
TLB: Then he added: “Son of dust,
let all my words sink deep into your own heart first; listen to them
carefully for yourself.
TEV: God continued, “Mortal man,
pay close attention and remember everything I tell you.
Literal: Moreover, He said to me, "Son
of man, take
(Qal Imperative = command) into your heart all My words which I shall speak to you, and
(Qal Imperative =
Moreover, He said to me, "Son of man, take into your heart all My words
which I shall speak to you and listen closely.
(Ezek 3:1, 2, 3; 2:8; Job 22:22; Ps 119:11; Pr 8:10; 19:20; Lk 8:15; 1Th
2:13; 1Th 4:1)
all My words that I shall speak to you, receive in your heart and hear with
your ears" (Amp)
take into your heart all my words which I am about to say to you, and
let your ears be open to them. (BBE)
into your heart all My words.
Not "your head" but "your heart". Not for information but transformation.
heart" is one of the key
phrases in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Deuteronomy. If you
need a "heart checkup" or just want a fascinating study that will
give you God's insights into the matter of your "heart"
click here and study the 31 uses in
here for 18 occurrences in Proverbs (or
if you want more of a challenge
click here to study all 123 uses in the Old
Related Resource: Study of
kardia - Greek word for heart
How does one take all God's words into
his or her heart today?
The psalmist says "Thy word I have treasured in my heart..."
How better to treasure God's Word than to
bury it deep within our heart through memorization.
As Billy Graham once said
I am convinced that one
of the greatest things we can do is to memorize Scripture." Charles
Swindoll said "I know of no other single practice in the Christian life
more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture...No other
single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be
strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your
attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and
observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will
my words The stress lies on
the first word "all".
The prophet was not to pick and choose out of the message, but was to be
like the apostle Paul and
"not shrink from declaring...the whole
purpose (whole will, whole counsel) of God." (Acts 20:27)
The LORD empowered Jeremiah with His word
"stretched out His hand and touched (his) mouth,
and...said to (him), "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth."
is a marked contrast to the exiles, who would refuse to listen. Ezekiel is
to make God's Words his own words.
Ezekiel 3:11 "Go
exiles, to the
sons of your
speak to them and
And go now to those who have
been taken away as prisoners, to the children of your people, and say to
them, This is what the Lord has said; if they give ear or if they do not.
English of Greek Septuagint And
(2nd Sing Present Act Imperative = command to continually go) thy way,
(2nd person Sing Aorist Act Imperative = do it now, speaks of urgency) in to the captivity, to the
children of thy people, and thou shalt speak to them, and say to them, Thus
saith the Lord; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.
Then go to your
countrymen who are in exile and tell them what I, the Sovereign Lord, am
saying to them, whether they pay attention to you or not.”
go (Qal Imperative =
enter in (Qal Imperative =
command) unto the
Removed, unto the sons of thy people, and thou hast spoken unto them,
and hast said unto them: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: whether they hear, or
whether they forbear.'
And go to the exiles to the sons of your people:
(Ezek 3:15; 11:24, 25; Da6:13) (Ezek 33:2, 12, 17, 30; 37:18; Ex 32:7;
And go, get you to the
[Jewish] captives [in Babylon], to the children of your people." (Amp)
God does not call them "My" people but "your"
people for Jehovah can no longer recognize them as His children but as
and speak to them and tell them
whether they listen or not, 'Thus says the Lord GOD
(Adonai jehovah). (Ezek 3:27; Acts
whether they will hear or refuse to hear."
they heed or resist!" (NAB)
This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’
whether they pay attention or not" (NET)
God repeats the same
phrase mentioned in (Ezek 2:5,7)
Ezekiel has the authority of the Sovereign LORD to validate his message.
(obey) and others would fail to listen, that is, refuse to obey
Ezekiel 3:12 Then
lifted me up, and I
"Blessed be the
glory of the
LORD in His
English of Greek Septuagint Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me the voice as of a great
earthquake (seismos = series of violent movements causing shaking,
agitation), saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place.
Then the Spirit lifted
me up, and I heard a loud rumbling sound behind me. (May the glory of the
Lord be praised in his place!)
And lift me up doth a spirit, and I hear behind me a noise, a great
rushing -- 'Blessed is the honour of Jehovah from His place!'--
Then the Spirit lifted me up: (Ezek
3:14; 2:2; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 40:1, 2; 1Ki 18:12; 2Ki 2:16)
Luther translates it I think incorrectly as "a wind lifted me up"
which although the same Hebrew word (Ruach) does not fit the context as well
as the Holy Spirit. In the NT we see a similar action by the Spirit, Luke
recording that when the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip
came up out of the water, the Spirit
of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but
went on his way rejoicing." (Acts 8:39)
and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me:
(Acts 2:2; Rev 1:10, 15)
a great rushing" (ASV)
great commotion" (DRA)
vibrating sound (NJB)
a great thunderous voice" (NKJV)
great roaring sound (TANAKH)
is translated by the Greek Septuagint with seismos which can
be translated as a shaking, a tempest or an earthquake.
Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place. (Ps
72:18, 19; 103:20, 21; 148:2; Is 6:3; Rev 5:11, 12, 13, 14; 19:6) (Ezek 9:3;
10:4, 18, 19; 11:22, 23; Ex 40:34, 35; 1Sa4:21, 22)
Blessed be the glory of
the Lord from His place [above the firmament]. (Amp)
glory of the LORD occurs 11
times in the first 11 chapters. You will want to mark this phrase in a
distinctive in your Bible. Here in context it appears to clearly refer to
the throne chariot of God initially described at the end of chapter 1 and
apparently remaining in place during the succeeding description of Ezekiel's
Ezekiel 3:13 And
I heard the
sound of the
wings of the
another and the
sound of the
beside them, even a
Lit even a
noise of the wings of the living creatures touching one another, and a noise
of the wheels over-against them, even a noise of a great rushing.
And I heard the sound of the wings of the living beings touching one another:
(Ezek 1:24; 10:5; 2Sa 5:24)
I heard the noise of
the wings of the living creatures as they touched and joined each one the
other [its sister wing]" (Amp)
and the sound of the wheels beside them, even a great rumbling sound.
(Ezek 10:10, 16, 17)
and I heard the noise of the wheels beside them and the noise of a
great rushing." (Amp)
Ezekiel 3:14 So
lifted me up and
took me away; and I
embittered in the
rage of my
spirit, and the
hand of the
strong on me.
Then the Spirit carried me away.
The LORD's power had taken complete control of me, and I was both annoyed
The spirit which had lifted me
up seized me, and I went off spiritually stirred, while the hand of the LORD
rested heavily upon me.
The Spirit lifted me up and
carried me away. I went bitterly, my spirit full of anger, and the hand of
the Lord rested powerfully on me.
The power of the Lord came on me
with great force, and as his spirit carried me off, I felt bitter and angry.
Literal And a spirit hath
lifted me up, and doth take me away, and I go bitterly, in the heat of my
spirit, and the hand of Jehovah on me is strong.
So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away:
(Ezek 3:12; 8:3; 37:1)
and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit:
(Nu 11:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19; Jer 6:11; 20:14, 15,16, 17, 18; Jn
4:1, 3, 9)
and I went in bitterness [of
discouragement] in the heat of my spirit" (Amp)
and I went
in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit" (NIV)
I went in
bitterness and turmoil" (NLT)
I went bitterly, my spirit full of
(mar) is that which is distasteful or distressing to the mind
and causes affliction and misery. He had just been told to "take to your
heart" all the words so it seems likely that his bitterness and heat of
anger are the result of Ezekiel associating himself with God and feeling the
same emotions toward Israel’s sin as God did. Note that the Greek Septuagint
does not translate the Hebrew word for embittered but does
translate the next phrase as "I went in the impulse of my spirit".
the rage of my spirit" is
more literally heat, hot displeasure, indignation, anger, wrath of my
The Pulpit Commentary says that
Here probably it points to the
conflict of emotions — indignation against the sins of his people, the dread
of failure, the consciousness of unfitness.
The expression in the heat of spirit may
refer to the prophet’s knowledge that his ministry would be largely one of
rejection and pain. He experienced the same type of anger that the Lord had
toward His rebellious people. It was not uncommon for exiles to occupy
such ruins (see Ezra 2:59; Neh. 7:61). Ezekiel’s “seven days” may refer
symbolically to the traditional time of mourning for the dead (see Gen.
50:10; Num. 19:11; Job 2:13), as well as to the period of consecration for a
priest (see Lev. 8:33).
Clarke comments that the sense of this verse is that
Being filled with indignation at the wickedness and
obstinacy of my people, I went, determining to speak the word of God without
disguise, and to reprove them sharply for their rebellion; and yet I was
greatly distressed because of the heavy message which I was commanded to
The Evangelical Commentary feels
Ezekiel’s bitterness and anger are
either reflections of God’s attitude toward his people, or more likely a
reflection of the prophet’s realization that he has to pronounce doom on
those he loves." (Elwell, W. A. Evangelical commentary on
the Bible. Baker Book
and the hand of the LORD was strong on me:
(Ezek 1:3; 8:1; 37:1; 2Ki2:16; 3:15)
hand of the LORD was strong on me"
most likely refers to the LORD's empowerment of Ezekiel much like the
situation in First Kings when
hand of the LORD
was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel."
Elijah, empowered by God, ran on foot ahead of King Ahab’s chariot some
15-25 miles from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel, clearly indicating he was not
running according to his own power but according to the power of the LORD.
May his tribe increase!
Ezekiel 3:15 Then
came to the
Tel-abib, and I
where they were
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.
I came to the exiles at Tel
Abib, who lived by the Kebar River. And I sat among them there, where they
were living, for seven days, dumbfounded.
Literal And I come in
unto the Removed, at Tel-Ahib, who are dwelling at the river Chebar,
and where they are dwelling I also dwell seven days, causing astonishment
in their midst.
Then I came to the exiles who lived beside the river Chebar at Tel-abib:
(Ezek 3:23; 1:1; 10:15; 43:3)
Young's Literal has an interesting
translation of "the exiles"
rendering the Hebrew as "the Removed"!
We now enter on the first scene of the
prophet’s ministry in "Tel-Abib"
which most major reference works indicate is the translation "mound of
ears of grain" or "mound of corn" probably related to the
fertility of the surrounding valley. Other references state that the meaning is "mound of the flood" which may reflect the fact that there
are many places in Babylon with the closely related name, Tel-Abubi,
meaning ‘mound of the deluge’ (‘place destroyed by the deluge’). It
is not to be confused with the modern city of Tel Aviv on the western coast
and I sat there seven days where they were living causing consternation
among them: (Ps 137:1)
I sat where they sat and remained there
among them seven days, overwhelmed with astonishment and silent." (Amp)
I sat among them for seven days--overwhelmed"
remained there astonished among them seven days" (NKJV)
I sat there among them for seven days, overwhelmed"
there seven days where these people lived. I was shocked" (ICB),
appalled" (Jewish Pub Soc)
feeling shocked (NCV)
in a stupor (NJB)
God sets up his Ezekiel's speaking
engagement but he can't speak. We would have expected him to begin at once
to deliver Gods message but instead he sat shocked and overwhelmed among
them seven days.
A similar response to a divine encounter
is found in Acts 9:8, 9 Luke recording that
Saul got up from the ground,
and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the
hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight,
and neither ate nor drank."
days may be related to a
period of mourning. In Genesis on the occasion of Jacob's death and burial
we find that when the entourage of Joseph
came to the threshing floor of
Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and
sorrowful lamentation; and he observed
for his father."
Job records that his "friends"
down on the ground with him for
and seven nights with no one speaking a
word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great."
Seven days was also the period during
which one is unclean after touching a corpse (Num 19:11), and the period of
consecration for a priest (Lev 8:33). As noted in (Ezek 1:3), Ezekiel was a
priest whom God had now commissioned to carry out the work of
a prophet and this fact may have something to do with the seven days but
that is somewhat speculative. In fact we can't be absolutely certain what
the "seven days" signifies4.
Ezekiel’s emotional and mental state after this vision is described as one
the Hebrew verb (shamen with 23/91 OT uses found concentrated
in Ezekiel = Ezek 3:15; 4:17; 6:4, 6; 20:26; 25:3; 26:16; 27:35; 28:19;
29:12; 30:7, 12, 14; 32:10, 15; 33:28; 35:12, 15; 36:3, 4, 34, 35, 36)
the basic meaning being desolation caused by some great disaster especially
that related to divine judgment and stresses the horror caused by the
desolation of judgment. The result of this devastation is what the verb
refers to in the present context and so conveys the sense of being appalled,
dismayed, stupefied, shocked, horrified. Appalled means
overcome with consternation, shock, or dismay and implies that one is faced
with that which perturbs, confounds, or shocks. "Astonished"
(NKJV, KJV, YLT) is not a good translation. I like the New
Jerusalem Bible's rendering "I stayed with them in a stupor"
or the NET Bible's "dumbfounded" which suggests intense but
momentary confounding. The character of the vision Ezekiel had just seen and
the awesomeness of the task before him left the prophet stunned.
Ezra the scribe had a similar reaction
when he learned that Israelites had taken foreign women as wives, recording
when I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my
robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down
Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account
of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me, and I sat
until the evening offering." (Ezra 9:3, 4).
In a chapter in which he denounces the
false prophets of Israel, Jeremiah describes a reaction similar to
My heart is broken within me, all my bones tremble.
I have become like a drunken man, even like a man overcome with wine,
because of the LORD and because of His holy words. (Jer 23:9)
Someone has commented that Ezekiel was
transported from God’s glorious presence to the harshness of exile (Ezek 3:12,
13, 14, 15)
so that there is little wonder he sat overwhelmed for seven days!
The prophet Habakkuk likewise is
deeply affected by the thought of judgment recording that
I heard and my inward parts trembled, At
the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I
tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people
to arise who will invade us. (Hab 3:16)