Summary: God calls Ezekiel to minister to a tough crowd with a tough message!
Chapter Two of Ezekiel, following the amazing vision of God’s glory in Chapter one, describes God’s call to Ezekiel as well as his mission. He is to go to a people who are discouraged and disgruntled. However the reason for their discouragement and bitterness is a failure to recognize their major spiritual character trait: Rebellion.
Remember that Ezekiel was living in Babylon during the first exile. He is hanging out by a river in Babylon with those who have been brought into exile. The river is important because it became the Jewish custom (and we see it in the New Testament) to go “down by the riverside” to worship whenever there was not a synagogue in a particular place.
However, we see from Psalm 137 an attitude that is anything but worshipful among the people of God. They have hung their harps and musical instruments in trees and refused to sing praises. They are bitter and declare that they only wish for violence to come upon those who have mistreated them.
It is to this people that Ezekiel is called to go and minister to. If any preacher ever had a tough mission, Ezekiel did.
VERSES 1-2 “GET UP!”
Ezekiel was facedown in worship because of the vision of God’s glory that he saw. Now God’s voice speaks to him and the Spirit motivates him to a standing position. Why did he need to stand up in order to hear God’s message? Standing is preparation for going. It is preparing for action.
Prayer is essential. Prayer is necessary. Prayer is where we prepare for action. However, there is a time when God calls us to leave the place of prayer and to move forward in order to fulfill God’s call. If the Apostle Paul had stayed in prayer in Jerusalem then the first missionary journeys would have been a dream, not a reality. Christ spent a great deal of time in prayer, but his calling was to minister and then go to the cross. Prayer gave him the strength and power for His perfect spiritual walk. The point is that there is a moment when God calls us to move away from the place of prayer and to move forward in order to act in obedience to God’s leadership.
VERSES 3-6 “A TOUGH CROWD TO PREACH TO”
God is very specific in his description of the people Ezekiel was to preach to. Throughout this chapter God chooses to describe these people as rebellious, stubborn, and obstinate. Not only has the nation been in rebellion against God but even in exile their rebellion is continuing.
The Word rebellion is not used lightly. Samuel told King Saul that rebellion was like the sin of witchcraft. This means that Rebellion is tantamount to communing with the devil. Rebelling against God’s will is like dabbling in the occult in that it will give Satan room in your life.
God also told Ezekiel that he was not responsible for the people’s response to the message. So often, preachers feel a responsibility for the manner in which a message is received. The calling is to preach, to give the message that God give, and then to leave the results to the Lord.
The presence of a prophet among the people was very important. The people were in a foreign land against their will but God still wanted to speak. They needed to know that God still had something to say. It is sort of interesting to note that the message God had for the people hadn’t changed much, even in the midst of the discipline. The message was, in its most basic essence, that the people had sinned against a holy God and deserved the judgment being placed upon them.
Whenever there is declaration of God’s Word there is both acceptance and rejection. Even the best preachers experience this. Even Christ experienced the joy of people responding positively to His Divine message and those who simply rejected it. In fact, a far more negative response than simple rejection is when folks actually attack the message and the messenger.
God encouraged Ezekiel to have courage and not be afraid of the people’s response to the message. He used the illustrations of thorns and briers as well as scorpions. The people would make his life difficult and his path uncomfortable (thorns and briers) and in some instances even dangerous (scorpions). Through it all Ezekiel was not to be afraid of these people because their rebellion had set them at odds with the Mighty God who had just revealed His glory to Ezekiel (in chapter one).
VERSES 7 – 10 “AN UNPOPULAR MESSAGE”
God warns Ezekiel not to follow the example of the people and rebel. Instead, he is to preach the message that God had for the people. He was to preach regardless of their response. However, their response wasn’t the only drawback to the preaching of God’s Word. The message God had for the people was so unpleasant and unpopular that God warned Ezekiel not to rebel against it.