Messenger to a Rebellious People

KEY VERSE: “Thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.” —Ezekiel 2:7

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 1:1; 2:1-10; 3:1-3

THE Prophet Ezekiel, who had been a priest in Jerusalem, was an exile in Babylon. He was taken there when many leading men of Jerusalem were carried captive. The larger captivity began several years later, when Jerusalem was captured, and the Temple burned.

Ezekiel’s call to the prophetic office came in the fifth year of his exile. He prophesied to the Jewish captives by the river Chebar in lower Babylon for some twenty-two or twenty-three years. This was one of the most critical periods in Israel’s history. Ezekiel was the prophet to the Jewish exiles. Before the fall of Jerusalem he kept combating the false hopes of a speedy restoration. After the city fell, his message changed, and he spoke more and more of restoration.

Describing his experience when called by God, Ezekiel wrote, “The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” (Ezek. 1:1) The expression, ‘the heavens were opened’, is used in the New Testament with respect to Jesus at the time of his consecration, when he began his ministry. (Matt. 3:16) It evidently denotes discernment of the Lord’s will, a revelation from God to serve as a guide for his servants.

Ezekiel wrote that he saw visions of God. In vision, Isaiah also saw the Lord “high and lifted up.” (Isa. 6:1) Isaiah understood that by means of this vision the Lord was calling him to a special service, and his response was, “Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:3) Ezekiel understood his vision to mean the same thing, and he also responded in faithful service.

It is imperative that those who serve the Lord be given a vision of him as an inspiration to faithfulness. Visions are not always given in the same literal fashion that came to Isaiah and Ezekiel. The Lord also reveals himself to his people through an understanding of his written Word, a knowledge of his great plan of redemption and salvation through Christ Jesus. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”—Matt. 5:8

To see God within the meaning of this Beatitude is to understand the great attributes of his character which combine to make up his glory. This understanding comes through the written Word. But it is not given to all—only to as many as the Lord calls. It is, in this age, restricted to those whom the Lord invites to be co-workers with him. To these it is given to know “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 13:11) These see God now through his Word, and if faithful will be ushered into his actual presence in glory.—II Cor. 3:18

“Stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee,” the Lord said to Ezekiel. (Ezek. 2:1) Ezekiel testified that the Spirit entered into him. This is the Holy Spirit, the holy power of God by which he inspired all his prophets. The Lord called Ezekiel the “Son of man,” and said, “I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me.”—vs. 3

Ezekiel was sent to what the Lord called a rebellious house. But whether or not the people heard and responded favorably to his message, the Lord wanted them to know that a prophet had been among them. In every age those who have spoken for the Lord have usually had to accept the fact that their messages have been largely merely in the nature of a witness. But the Lord wants his faithful people to continue bearing witness to the truth, “whether they will hear or whether they will forbear.”—vs. 7

Seldom are those who witness for the Lord limited in their messages only to the warnings and prophecies of calamities by which his people will be punished. They are also given words of comfort to speak. So it was with Ezekiel. The captivity in Babylon was to end, and, more important, a much longer captivity was forecast when this people would be scattered among all nations, and which would also end: and from that time forward they would no longer be oppressed by the ‘heathen’.

“Eat this roll [scroll],” was the instruction to Ezekiel to make God’s Word his own. (Ezek. 3:1,2) Of course this was a figurative expression. But we like the prophet, are to make God’s Word so much a part of ourselves, that it will permeate our whole beings as we let our light shine.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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