Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentEZEKIEL 2
EZEKIEL'S COMMISSION FROM GOD TO ISRAEL
The thought here and into chapter three is continuous with that of the preceding chapter, all of these things being directly connected with God's call of this great prophet as a witness to Israel.
In this short chapter, God gave to Ezekiel the description of his mission. It would be to a stiff-necked, hard-hearted, rebellious people. Following the captivity of the northern kingdom, the southern remnant in Judea, including a few defections from the northern group, had become in fact "the united Israel." At this point in time, Israel was no longer a mighty nation but a discouraged remnant of captives in Babylon.
Despite this, the whole "house of Israel" is in this chapter (Ezekiel 2:3) called a rebellious nation, "the last term, here, being the very word used in the Old Testament for the Gentiles."F1 This shows the total alienation of the nation from God. We may therefore take the word "rebellious" as the key to Israel's attitude throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel.
It was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Hosea (Hosea 1:9) in which the third child of Gomer was named "Loammi," the same being a prophetic declaration concerning Israel that, "They are not God's people, and that he, Jehovah, will no longer be their God."
Dummelow gives the following summary of God's commission to Ezekiel.
"It came in three stages and upon three different occasions. The principal one of these is the 1st, which came immediately after the amazing vision of Ezek. 1 and which occupies all of Ezek. 2 and Ezek. 3:1-13. The second came seven days later, among the exiles at Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:14-21); and the third was connected with a repetition of this vision, apparently in the neighborhood of Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:22-27)."F2
And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee.
Matthew Henry commented upon the need for God to send just such a messenger as Ezekiel to Israel. "Although they still retained the name of their pious ancestors, they had wretchedly degenerated. This passage declares that they had become Goim, nations, the word commonly used in that era for Gentiles."F3 The other sacred writers agree with what is written here. "The children of Israel had become as the children of the Ethiopians" (Amos 9:7). "They had become traffickers, the ancient word for Canaanites" (Hosea 12:7). This last word shows that Israel had degenerated to a condition in which they were no better than the ancient pagan Canaanites whom God had removed from Palestine in order to repeople the land with Israelites!
The warning for Christians in all of this is, that if the moral and righteous integrity of Christians deteriorates to a condition in which they are no longer truly distinguished from the unregenerated masses around them, they are doubtless doomed, no less than was ancient Israel, to lose their status and to incur the wrath of God. "Without holiness, no man shall see God" (Hebrews 12:14).
Son of man
(Ezekiel 2:1). Amazingly, this designation of Ezekiel occurs no less than ninety-three times in this prophecy.F4 From the term's usage in Dan. 7:13 and Dan. 8:14, it came to be recognized as a Messianic title, the very one, in fact, that was especially preferred by Jesus Christ, because it was intended as both a concealment and a revelation of the Saviour's true deity.F5
Verses 2, 3
And the Spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet; and I heard him that spake unto me. And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to nations that are rebellious, which have rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me even unto this very day.
To nations that are rebellious
(Ezekiel 2:3). These were the two nations of northern Israel and southern Israel, here referred to collectively as the children of Israel.
And the spirit entered into me
(Ezekiel 2:2). We agree with Pearson that the spirit mentioned here can be none other than the blessed Holy Spirit himself.F6
And the children are impudent and stiffhearted: I do sent thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious.
Thus saith the Lord Jehovah
(Ezekiel 2:4). Throughout Ezekiel this double name of God appears no less than 200 times.F7 This Biblical usage of two different names for God, namely, [~Adonay], and [~Yahweh] is a dramatic contradiction of the radical critics' notion that the several names of God indicate various sources, a foolish allegation upon which is built by critical Biblical enemies their entire theory of such things as The Documentary Thesis of the Pentateuch.
Ezekiel is not the only inspired writer who denies that whole evil hypothesis by his using a double name for God throughout his prophecy; for the patriarch Jacob himself used four different names for God in the blessing of his sons (Genesis 49:24-25).
We shall repeat briefly here a challenge which we have frequently made publicly and in our commentaries.
"If there had really ever been in existence a single one of all those `documents' such as the Elohist, the Jehovist, the Priestly, etc, which occupy such a prominent place in the imagination of Biblical enemies, and if the great Lawgiver Moses had access to any of them in his production of the Pentateuch, then whatever happened to them? Why have all the excavations of fragments of writings from all the nations of antiquity, and the discovery of monuments of many kinds from all the cities of the past -- WHY has there never been found even a single reference to any of them, either in the writings or the monuments of all past history? If Bible enemies would be believed, let them prove that such documents existed. Until that is done, we believe that only a fool could believe in those evil theories. They say that Moses used them. If so, they existed; but if they did, what went with them? Why is there no record of them anywhere on earth except in the fertile imaginations of men seeking to discredit the word of God?"
They shall know that there hath been a prophet among them
(Ezekiel 2:5) Eichrodt described what God was doing here.
"The true Lord of this people is causing his royal fight to rule to be proclaimed aloud in the very place where everyone thought it had died out and had been abolished. However, whatever resistance would flare up, nothing would be able to silence God's Word. It would prove itself stronger than all who might resist it."F8
Briers. thorns ... scorpions ..
(Ezekiel 2:6). These expressions are metaphorical descriptions of Ezekiel's uncomfortable position as he prophesied to a people who would have preferred not to hear him.F9
For they are most rebellious
(Ezekiel 2:7). Clearly, Ezekiel's mission was destined to be a very unpopular and difficult one; but expressions such as this were designed to discipline the prophet to expect evil and unappreciative responses from the people. It would be easier for him to bear all this if he would realize that such evil reactions by the Israelites were to be expected. Anything else would have been out of character for them. Such was the shameful status of God's Chosen People at that point in their history.
But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that which I give thee. And when I looked, behold, a hand was put forth unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.
This passage in which the prophet is commanded to eat "the roll of the book" has its counterpart in the New Testament, in Revelation, where the apostle John is likewise commanded to eat the "roll of the book" (Rev. 10). In the New Testament, John's eating the book became a symbol of the Word-filled Church, one of God's Two Witnesses, the other being the sacred Word itself, held open forever in the hands of the mighty angel, these Two Witnesses being in fact the only witnesses God has during the current dispensation.
The command to eat the roll indicated that Ezekiel was to read and digest its contents, that he was to make it indeed and continually a part of his very person, that the prophet was commissioned to speak God's Word, not his own, and that all of the messages that he would communicate to the people would be those from God Himself.
It was written within and without
(Ezekiel 2:10) Some have speculated on why the roll is here represented as being written within and without; and as Taylor noted, Ellison's suggestion is most likely, that there was no room left for any additions by the prophet himself,F10 of his own words.
Here in the Old Testament we find the conception of the Redemption of Mankind as being ultimately dependent absolutely upon the application with utmost fidelity of the principles and commandments written "IN A BOOK." "The Great Book" upon which the salvation of everyone who ever lived is dependent is, of course, The Holy Bible, especially the New Testament, which is so dramatically symbolized by the little book open in the hands of the Rainbow Angel (Rev. 10).
In all ages, the true religion of God has been nothing more nor less than the "Religion of the Book." As Bunn noted, "Here there is an introduction to revelation by written word which became to Ezekiel a religion of written statutes and ordinances."F11 It is our own opinion that the current generation also needs to receive the same conception of holy religion.
Footnotes for Ezekiel 2
1: Charles Lee Feinberg in Ezekiel (Moody Press), p. 23.
2: J. R. Dummelow's Commentary, p. 492.
3: Matthew Henry Commentary (Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell), p. 760.
4: Anton T. Pearson in Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 710.
6: Ibid., p. 711.
8: WE, p. 62.
9: F. F. Bruce in the New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 866.
10: J. B. Thompson, p. 63.
11: John T. Bunn in the Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1871), p. 241.