Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 24 2019 - Ezekiel 2:1-3:11 – Ezekiel's call

Yesterday we read of the glory of God approaching Ezekiel in an extraordinary vision of blazing fire. Unsurprisingly, Ezekiel fell with his face to the ground. This, we suggested, finds an echo in the Book of Revelation where John sees the glory of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. He also "fell at his feet as though dead" (Revelation 1:17). But just as Christ in that instance placed his right hand on John, telling him not to be afraid for he is commissioning him with a message for his people, so here Ezekiel records that "the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet" (2:2). The Lord has come to empower Ezekiel to take his message to his people, Israel. Ezekiel is going to be his prophet.

The Babylonians had taken the leading people from Jerusalem and Judea into captivity in Babylon. This captivity was God's punishment for a people who had rebelled against him and who had devoted themselves to the idol-gods of the nations around them instead of worshiping the Lord their God. God had sent prophets to them, warning them of the consequences of their disobedience and calling them to return to him, but they had failed to listen to what God had to say. Now God is calling Ezekiel to be his prophet to this "rebellious nation", this "obstinate and stubborn" people (2:3).

The Lord tells Ezekiel not to be afraid to speak the words that he gives to him, even though the Israelites may not wish to listen to him and may make life difficult for him – as if "briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions" (v. 6). Not an attractive prospect!

Ezekiel is then handed a scroll which, when unrolled before him, he sees is written on both sides with words of lament, mourning and woe. Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll and then go to speak to the people of Israel. In his vision Ezekiel takes and eats the scroll "and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth" (3:3, cf. Revelation 10:9). As with the commissioning of Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 6, God tells Ezekiel that the message he will be given to proclaim will not seem sweet to those who hear it. But he is reassured that the Lord will enable him to endure their opposition: "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" (3:8-9).

Ezekiel had been called to a difficult ministry. It required him to "digest" God's word of woe to his people. He had to take it in and make it part of his own being before he could speak that word to others; he could not preach to others what he had not first preached to his own soul. So the Lord tells Ezekiel to, "listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you" (3:10).

The Lord Jesus calls us to a similar, though at the same time very different, task. We have not been given a word of woe and lament but the word of the gospel – a word of good news.  Nevertheless, we also need to understand and receive the good news of the gospel for ourselves before we can share it with others. We need not only to have heard that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, we need to have trusted in him for forgiveness, acceptance with God and eternal life. We need to have tasted of the sweetness of the life he promises and to know the work of his Spirit in our own lives. We need to know him and the joy and peace he gives so that we can commend our Saviour to others. We cannot sell what we have not got.

Father God, we thank you for the precious message of the gospel through which you spoke life into our own hearts and which you have now entrusted to us. Help us to listen carefully and take to heart all the words you speak to us. Help us to hear the voice of Christ and to follow him so that we may truly be his disciples. Empower us then by your Spirit to tell others the good news of the Lord Jesus who alone can give them peace with God, rest for their souls and joy in the Spirit. 

Peter Misselbrook