So we being, Chaper 2....
Ezekiel lies face down in awe of God, in holy reverence to the granter of the sparkling vision of God and beauty of God's Spirit out of the whirlwind to being this book. Does God commend him for his humble adoration? No, but rather calls him to stand, not unlike his call to Moses upon Moses' experience at the Burning Bush. The call to standing up is a call to action, but the decision to stand and take in the commands of God is on our own doing. Matthew Henry's Commentary (MHC) points this out:
v. 2. God bade him stand up; but, because he had not strength of his own to
recover his feet nor courage to face the vision, the Spirit entered into him and
set him upon his feet. Note, God is graciously pleased to work that in us which
he requires of us and raises those whom he bids rise. We must stir up ourselves,
and then God will put strength into us; we must work out our salvation, and then God will work in us.
When the Spirit of God calls, our adoration cannot delay our response but rather quicken our feet to action. God calls us to pray, but God also calls us to listen closely to his Spirit and when the call to action is placed upon our lives, we must be ready to heed the call.
Why is it that we often get this picture of God being some lovable Shepard with the little children smiling around him while forgetting that that same God is also a God of righteousness and justice? Is it that we want an excuse to continue justifying our own self-righteousness?
In verse 4, God calls out Israel saying, "For they are stiff-faced, hard-hearted and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.'
MHC describes the true message of God in more depth saying, 'They are impudent children, brazen-faced, and cannot blush; they are still-hearted, self-willed, and cannot bend, cannot stoop, neither ashamed nor afraid to sin; they will not be wrought upon by the sense either of honour or duty.'
Oh how often we fall short and instead relish in our own rebellious ways. This is the reason God is sending Ezekiel to Israel as their self righteousness smoke has reached heaven's gate. God will not strive with, nor will he keep his anger from us forever.
Conscience as Witness
While man can try to explain away their naturally evil bent behaviors, nothing can explain away the feeling of guilt or sin upon the conscience. We all show the work of the law written on our hearts, with the conscience bearing witness to the truth and our thoughts accusing or excusing our behavior. Likewise, the conscience also responds to the Gospel in a similar manner.
Verse 5: He has authority to call those to an account to whom he
sends his ambassadors. Whether they will hear or whether they will forbear,
whether they will attend to the word or turn their backs upon it, they shall
know that there has been a prophet among them, shall know by experience.
The natural question that Ezekiel or anyone else in likewise predicament would be stating is, What difference will it make if I go or not if they won't even listen to the message? God states it clear in verse five that their response will not be involuntary and unaccounted for, their conscience will bear witness to the truth of the gospel being preached. MHC states, '
When men’s hearts are made to burn under the word, and their wills to bow to it, then they know and bear the witness in themselves that it is not the word of men, but of God.'
The quality of omniscience, the all-knowing characteristic of God's nature should put the fear of God in any one's heart. MHC states, 'God knew this concerning them, how inflexible, how incorrigible, they were. God is perfectly acquainted with every man’s true character, whatever his pretensions and professions may be. ' We can run, but we can't hide. Our character, our very being, is always on display before the God of the universe as if a secret video camera is on full display and filming every move you make.
While God sees our natural bent toward evil and hard hearts, He is always wanting to bring us to the truth and do so in a way that involves our participation. Toward the end of the chapter, Ezekiel receives the scroll of the words of God for His people Israel and in verse ten, God 'spreads it out before Ezekiel.' God did not want Ezekiel to implicitly eat up the scroll without having any knowledge of what it contains. He rather wanted Ezekiel to understand what it was that God wanted to communicate to the people Israel and then make that message his own. He spreads out his word for Ezekiel to see and understand, and then he commands Ezekiel to eat it. MHC states, 'Be not rebellious, says Christ, but eat what I give thee'.
God's message of salvation is likewise free, ready to eaten up by an understanding heart.