Ezekiel 3

CHAPTER III

This chapter contains more particular instructions to the

prophet. It begins with repeating his appointment to his

office, 1-3.

Ezekiel is then informed that his commission is, at this time,

to the house of Israel exclusively, 4-6;

that his countrymen would pay little regard to him, 7;

that he must persevere in his duty notwithstanding such great

discouragement; and he is endued with extraordinary courage and

intrepidity to enable him fearlessly to declare to a disobedient

and gainsaying people the whole counsel of God, 8-11.

The prophet is afterwards carried by the spirit that animated

the cherubim and wheels, and by which he received the gift of

prophecy, to a colony of his brethren in the neighbourhood,

where he remained seven days overwhelmed with astonishment,

12-15.

He is then warned of the awful importance of being faithful in

his office, 16-21;

commanded to go forth into the plain that he may have a visible

manifestation of the Divine Presence, 22;

and is again favoured with a vision of that most magnificent

set of symbols described in the first chapter, by which the

glorious majesty of the God of Israel was in some measure

represented, 23.

See also Isa 6:1-13; Da 10:5-19; and Re 1:10-16; 4:1-11,

for other manifestations of the Divine glory, in all of which

some of the imagery is very similar. The prophet receives

directions relative to his future conduct, 24-27.

NOTES ON CHAP. III

Verse 1. Eat this roll, and go speak] This must have passed in

vision; but the meaning is plain. Receive my word-let it enter

into thy Soul; digest it-let it be thy nourishment; and let it be

thy meat and drink to do the will of thy Father who is in heaven.

Verse 3. It was in my mouth as honey] It was joyous to me to

receive the Divine message, to be thus let into the secrets of the

Divine counsel, and I promised myself much comfort in that

intimate acquaintance with which I was favoured by the Supreme

Being. In Re 10:10 we find St. John receiving a little book,

which he ate, and found it sweet as honey in his mouth, but after

he had eaten it, it made his belly bitter, signifying that a deep

consideration of the awful matter contained in God's word against

sinners, which multitudes of them will turn to their endless

confusion, must deeply afflict those who know any thing of the

worth of an immortal spirit.

Verse 5. Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech] I

neither send thee to thy adversaries, the Chaldeans, nor to the

Medes and Persians, their enemies. Even these would more likely

have hearkened unto thee than thy own countrymen.

Verse 7. Impudent and hard-hearted.] "Stiff of forehead, and

hard of heart."-Margin. The marginal readings on several verses

here are very nervous and very correct.

Verse 12. Then the Spirit took me up] This, as Calmet remarks,

has been variously understood. 1. An impetuous wind carried him to

the place where his brethren sojourned. 2. The Holy Spirit, which

filled his heart, transported him in a moment to the place where

the captives were. 3. Or, he was so transported with heavenly

ardour in his mind, that he ran immediately off, and seemed to fly

to the place where God commanded him to go. The promptitude and

impetuosity of his spirit seemed to furnish him with wings on the

occasion. However this may be understood, the going to the

captives was real.

A voice of a great rushing] This was the noise made by the wings

of the living creatures that formed the chariot of Jehovah. See

the notes on chap i. and x.

Blessed be the glory of the Lord] Probably the acclamation of

the living creatures: "Let God be blessed from the throne of his

glory! He deserves the praises of his creatures in all the

dispensations of his mercy and justice, of his providence and

grace."

Verse 13. A great rushing.] All the living creatures and the

wheels being then in motion.

Verse 14. I went in bitterness] 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 deliver.

Verse 16. I came to them of the captivity] Because the hand of

the Lord was strong upon him and supported him, he soon reached

the place.

Tel-abib] "a heap of corn." So the Vulgate: acervum

novarum frugum, "a heap of new fruits." [Syriac] letola chib, "to

the hill Chib," or the hill of grief.-Syriac.

Seven days.] Perhaps God kept him all this time without an

immediate revelation, that the bitterness and heat of spirit of

which he speaks above might be subdued, and that he might speak

God's words in God's own Spirit. Had he gone in a better spirit he

had probably been employed in his work as soon as he had gained

the place of labour.

Verse 17. I have made thee a watchman] The care and welfare of

all this people I have laid on thee. Thou must watch for their

safety, preach for their edification, and pray for their

eternal welfare. And that thou mayest be successful, receive the

word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

God is particularly jealous lest any words but his own be taught

for Divine doctrines. He will not have human creeds, no more than

TRADITIONS, taught instead of his own word. No word can be

successful in the salvation of sinners but that which comes from

God. Every minister of the Gospel should be familiar with his

Maker by faith and prayer; God will then hold communion with his

spirit; otherwise, what he preaches will be destitute of spirit

and life, and his hackneyed texts and sermons, instead of being

the bread from heaven, will be like the dry mouldy Gibeonitish

crusts.

Verse 18. Thou shalt surely die] That is, If he turn not from

his wickedness, and thou givest him not warning, as above, he

shalt die in his iniquity, which he should not have committed; but

his blood will I require at thy hand-I will visit thy soul for the

loss of his. O how awful is this! Hear it, ye priests, ye

preachers, ye ministers of the Gospel; ye, especially, who have

entered into the ministry for a living, ye who gather a

congregation to yourselves that ye may feed upon their fat, and

clothe yourselves with their wool; in whose parishes and in whose

congregations souls are dying unconverted from day to day, who

have never been solemnly warned by you, and to whom you have never

shown the way of salvation, probably because ye know nothing of it

yourselves! O what a perdition awaits you! To have the blood of

every soul that has died in your parishes or in your congregations

unconverted laid at your door! To suffer a common damnation for

every soul that perishes through your neglect! How many loads of

endless wo must such have to bear! Ye take your tithes, your

stipends, or your rents, to the last grain, and the last penny;

while the souls over whom you made yourselves watchmen have

perished, and are perishing, through your neglect. O worthless and

hapless men! better for you had ye never been born! Vain is your

boast of apostolical authority, while ye do not the work of

apostles! Vain your boast of orthodoxy, while ye neither show nor

know the way of salvation! Vain your pretensions to a Divine

call, when ye do not the work of evangelists! The state of the

most wretched of the human race is enviable to that of such

ministers, pastors, teachers, and preachers.

But let not this discourage the faithful minister who teaches

every man, and warns every man, in all wisdom, that he may present

every man perfect to Christ Jesus. If after such teaching and

warning they will sin on, and die in their sins, their blood will

be upon themselves; but thou, O man of God, hast delivered thine

own soul.

Verse 20. When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness]

Which these words plainly state he may do, and commit iniquity,

and die in his sin; and consequently die eternally, which is also

here granted; if he have not been warned, though he die in his

sin, the blood-the life and salvation, of this person also will

God require at the watchman's hand. Pastor hunc occidit, quia eum

tacendo morti tradidit. "This man the pastor kills; for in being

silent, he delivers him over to death."-GREGORY. From these

passages we see that a righteous man may fall from grace, and

perish everlastingly. Should it be said that it means the

self-righteous, I reply, this is absurd; for self-righteousness

is a fall itself, and the sooner a man falls from it the better

for himself. Real, genuine righteousness of heart and life is that

which is meant. Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.

And I lay a stumbling-block before him] That is, I permit him to

be tried, and he fall in the trial. God is repeatedly represented

as doing things which he only permits to be done. He lays a

stumbling-block, i.e., he permits one to be laid.

Verse 22. Arise, go forth into the plain] Into a place remote

from observation and noise; a place where the glory of God might

have sufficient room to manifest itself, that the prophet might

see all its movements distinctly.

Verse 24. The spirit-said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine

house.] Hide thyself for the present. The reason is immediately

subjoined.

Verse 25. They shall put bands upon thee] Thy countrymen will

rise up against thee; and, to prevent thy prophesying, will

confine thee.

Verse 26. I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy

mouth] I will not give thee any message to deliver to them. They

are so rebellious, it is useless to give them farther warning.

Verse 27. I will open thy mouth] When it is necessary to address

them again, thou shalt sum up what thou hast said in this one

speech: Thus saith the Lord, "He that heareth, let him hear; and

he that forbeareth, let him forbear." Let him who feels obedience

to the voice of God his interest, be steadfast. Let him who

disregards the Divine monition go in his own way, and abide the

consequences.

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