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[Ezekiel:1:1-28]; [Ezekiel:2:1-10]; [Ezekiel:3:1-27].
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 3:18).
I Ezekiel’s Commission
1. We are given the time and place of divine manifestation to the prophet, [Ezekiel:1:1-3]; [Daniel:8:1-2]; [Matthew:3:16]; [Acts:7:56].
2. Ezekiel is given a vision of the four living creatures and the wheels, [Ezekiel:1:4-18]; [Revelation:4:6-8].
3. The living creatures were moved by the Spirit that was in them and the noise of their wings was like the noise of the Almighty, [Ezekiel:1:19-25]; [Ezekiel:10:17].
4. Ezekiel saw a throne and the likeness of the glory of the Lord around it, [Ezekiel:1:26-28]; [Isaiah:6:1]; [Daniel:7:9].
II Sent to a Rebellious Nation
1. Ezekiel was sent to the children of the captivity, whether they would hear or not, [Ezekiel:2:1-5]; [1 Samuel:8:7]; [Isaiah:48:4]; [Jeremiah:5:3]; [Acts:13:46].
2. He was not to be afraid of their words or looks, [Ezekiel:2:6-8]; [Isaiah:41:10]; [Isaiah:51:12]; [Jeremiah:1:17].
3. He was given a roll, written within and without with lamentation and woe, [Ezekiel:2:9-10].
III Eating and Declaring God’s Word
1. Ezekiel ate the roll and was made a watchman to the house of Israel, [Ezekiel:3:1-17]; [Psalms:119:103]; [Jeremiah:15:16]; [Revelation:10:9].
2. He was warned of the importance of being a faithful watchman, [Ezekiel:3:18-21]; [Ezekiel:33:6]; [John:8:21], [John:8:24].
3. He was given another vision of the glory of the Lord, [Ezekiel:3:22-27]; [Ezekiel:24:27]; [Ezekiel:33:22]; [Luke:1:20-22].
Ezekiel is Called the “Shepherd of the Exiles”
Ezekiel was carried to Babylon in the second stage of the captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was among the first of the captives to be taken to Babylon, eight years previous to Ezekiel’s captivity. Ezekiel was contemporary with Jeremiah and Daniel. Jeremiah had prophesied for 34 years before Ezekiel was called to the prophetic ministry. Ezekiel was the son of a priest and possibly had executed some priestly offices himself before being taken captive to Babylon.
He had been in Babylon five years when the Lord appeared to him one day by the river Chebar and gave him a vision of the divine glory of the Lord. He continued to prophesy for at least 22 years. Much of his prophecy was symbolical but his language was very plain and simple.
Having been around the Temple in Jerusalem, he possibly had heard much of Jeremiah’s prophecy. It may have influenced his young life. Ezekiel had been prophesying in Babylon for six years before the fall of Jerusalem.
During this time Jeremiah was battling with his own people in Jerusalem trying to persuade them not to resist the Chaldean army. To his own countrymen this sounded like treason. To the ungodly, the voice of the Lord speaking through His messengers is distasteful and many times stirs up rebellion.
Ezekiel was favoured with this extraordinary vision of divine glory when he received his commission to bear God’s message to the rebellious house of Israel. He states that the heavens were opened and he saw visions of God, emblems and symbols of divine majesty, showing forth the glory of the Lord.
When these living creatures moved, the sound of their wings was like the voice of the Almighty. In the firmament that was over them was the likeness of a throne, and on that throne, the likeness of a man. Could this represent the One who was to come and lay one hand on sinful man and the other upon a merciful God and bring them together in reconciliation? The appearance of fire was round about the One who sat on the throne. Fire denotes judgement. But above it all was the appearance of a bow that is seen in the cloud in the day of rain. This bow of promise was hung out like a flag from this throne of glory as a covenant of peace. Except for final judgement, there is never a judgement foretold but that it is followed by a promise of peace and hope to those who will heed the warning and seek the face of God. In wrath God remembers mercy. God’s ultimate purpose is to save men’s lives and not to destroy them.
Eating the Roll
A roll was handed to Ezekiel, written within and without, full of lamentations and woe. Ezekiel was told to eat the roll. The Lord wanted him to fully saturate himself with the message he was to bear.
In order to fully preach God’s Word, a minister must know and understand the message he is to preach. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Timothy:2:15]).
This roll, or message, told of God’s judgement for sin. It is not easy to proclaim the judgements of God. It sometimes brings severe persecution to the messenger. That is why many ministers are preaching only the “love” of God. It is an easy way and tickles the ears of people. It does not disturb them from their spiritual slumber. But God is a God of judgement as well as a God of love and mercy.
There never was a people so highly favoured as Israel and yet never a people so ungrateful. At one time the glory of the Lord shone out through the Kingdom of Israel to all the nations of the world. No nation was ever more blessed of the Lord than Israel during the reign of Solomon, but sin and disobedience brought it from its pinnacle of glory to the depths of slavery. What a fall! “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs:14:34]). There is no soul so abject and pitiful as one who has once known God and backslid.
A Rebellious People
Ezekiel was possessed with those sterling qualities that make a man a giant for the Lord. He was sent to a rebellious people. The Lord told him not to be afraid of their voices or dismayed at their looks. Whether they would hear or whether they would forbear, he was to proclaim the Word of the Lord. Paul exhorted Timothy: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” [2 Timothy:4:2]). Even though they will not hear, they cannot plead their ignorance in the day of judgement.
Ezekiel was made a watchman to the house of Israel. The duty of a watchman is to warn the people of an impending danger. Israel had wandered far from the fold. The Prophet Jeremiah said, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of diamond” [Jeremiah:17:1]). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” [Galatians:6:7]). Israel was now reaping what they had been sowing for years. They were captives in a strange land. The walls of their beautiful city, Jerusalem, were broken down. Their costly Temple was laid waste. Their sins had separated them from their God. Not only their past sins but their present sins were keeping God’s face hid from them. They were still a stiff-necked and rebellious people. They had forgotten God.
The responsibility of warning Israel was laid upon Ezekiel. The responsibility of warning sinners today is laid upon God’s watchmen. Where are the fiery preachers who once sounded the warning that hell-fire and brimstone awaited the ungodly? “Eternal security” is the cry that today’s hirelings are sending forth. Hear this from the lips of the Almighty: “When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.”
From the pulpit, from the press, from the air, in almost every quarter of the globe, one hears that smooth-sounding phrase, “eternal security.” One can be eternally secure if he walks obedient to God’s commandments, but if he turns from the faith, he is no longer a child of God and has no right to eternal life. At whose hands will the blood of those who have been deceived be required? They have been led to believe that if they were once saved they can never be lost, when God’s Word plainly declares that only the “pure in heart” shall see God. God still has some faithful “Ezekiels” who still warn the wicked of their evil ways and declare that in the day a righteous man sins he shall surely die.
1. Where was Ezekiel when the Lord gave him his commission?
2. What was the proverb the Children of Israel were using?
3. Describe the vision Ezekiel saw.
4. Why was Ezekiel told to eat the roll?
5. What is the duty of a watchman?
6. What does the Lord say about a righteous man in the day that he sins?
7. What does the Lord say about a sinner in the day that he turns from his sin?