Chapter 3 Ezekiel is appointed as a watchman to Israel
1 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.
The Lord commands Ezekiel to the eat the scroll which he does immediately. In his mouth the scroll surprisingly tasted sweet.
4 Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, 6 not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. 8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.”
The Lord had sent the prophet to his very own people who spoke the language as Ezekiel. Had God sent him to a foreign people then they would have been more receptive that the Jews who continued their impudence and hard-heartedness towards God. God has toughened Ezekiel to be able to cope with this rebellious people. Ezekiel is reminded not to fear this rebellious people or their fierce looks.
10 Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. 11 And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.”
The Lord instructs the prophet to take all his words into his heart and tell them to the Jews whether they would listen or not.
12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place!” 13 I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise. 14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat and remained there astonished among them seven days.
The Spirit of God causes Ezekiel to stand on his feet and immediately he hears from behind him a voice like thunder declaring that ‘blessed is the glory of the Lord from His throne.’ The man of God is now aware of the noise coming from the wings of the cherubim as they touch each other and the noise of the wheels moving and another sound like thunder. Ezekiel is filled with sadness of the message and is now transported by the Spirit of God back to the exiles camp at Tel Abib near the River Chebar.
16 Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”
One-week later God speaks to Ezekiel again telling that he has been appointed as a watchman over the house of Israel. If the prophet is faithful in passing on God’s warnings to the wicked in Israel, then they will be responsible for their own guilt. Even if God tells him to warn a righteous man who is in sin, then Ezekiel will be innocent, and the righteous man will be responsible for his own obedience or disobedience. However if Ezekiel fails to warn either the wicked or the righteous man then God will hold Ezekiel accountable for this.
22 Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.”
God now calls the prophet to come out onto the plain where he will receive further instructions.
23 So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24 Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet and spoke with me and said to me: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 And you, O son of man, surely, they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. 26 I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
Ezekiel now sees the glory of the Lord just as before when he saw it on the banks of the River Chebar. He immediately falls face down before the Lord. The spirit of God enters him and sets him on his feet then instructs him to go to his house and lock himself in. God tells the man of God what is going to happen to him next. The Jews will tie him up as though he were a madman. His tongue will stick to the roof of his mouth so that he cannot even speak to these rebels against God. At a certain time, the Lord will enable Ezekiel to speak to the Jews and some will listen, but some will not.