Ezekiel 3 has our prophet getting more direction on what God’s expecting him to do. He is being sent to deliver God’s truth to a very stubborn people. “Go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them”. Seems pretty simple doesn’t it. What God says – Ezekiel is to repeat. But these people are rebellious and have no interest in hearing what God has to say, so they aren’t doing to treat Ezekiel and his message with open arms. In fact, God warns him that they not only won’t listen, but that he’ll likely suffer some mistreatment and will need to persevere through it.
There won’t be an issue with them being able to understand the message – that isn’t the issue. “For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel”. God has equipped Ezekiel with what he needs to deliver the message. So while it sounds pretty possible that he can do the job, God reminds him that “I have sent you to them who should listen to you….they are not willing to listen to Me”. The caveat is that they have been unwilling to listen to the Almighty God. So that makes the assignment seem a bit more overwhelming. The won’t listen to God, and now Ezekiel gets the unpleasant task of taking God’s truth to them and trying to get them to listen to him.
So the welcome won’t be warm, nor the reception of truth good. But God only asks Ezekiel to deliver it, not make them listen, believe or obey. God does warn that they aren’t going to like it and Ezekiel should trust Him for protection. “Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house”. And most importantly, God has equipped his prophet with all he needs to succeed. “Then the Spirit lifted me up….and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the Lord was strong on me”. God will always equip us with what we need to do His work. He never sends us out unprepared or without the things we need to be obedient. If He calls us, He equips us.
God does further explain exactly what He expects from Ezekiel. “I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me”. It’s pretty clear what Ezekiel is to do. God goes on to make it clear what the consequences are if Ezekiel fails – this is high stakes prophecy. There are two potential outcomes:
- Ezekiel fails to tell them the message God gave him to deliver – “he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand”.
- Ezekiel tells them exactly what God has told him to pass on – “if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself”.
This is important stuff, and Ezekiel doesn’t have the option to fail here. But to make it more challenging, God chooses to allow them to bind him so he can’t go out with them and make his tongue stick to the top of the roof of his mouth so he can’t speak. He’ll be mute except when God has given him a message to deliver directly to the people. In other words, there can’t be any priming of the pump or preparation for the message that God will send. Ezekiel was shown that he must speak God’s message only when God directed him. To emphasize this, God required Ezekiel not to speak or leave his house until God allowed him. This will all be God, not any fancy work by Ezekiel.