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3. Warning to Israel

1And he said unto me, Son of man, eat that which thou findest; eat this roll, and go, speak unto the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat the roll. 3And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 4And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. 5For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6not to many peoples of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, if I sent thee to them, they would hearken unto thee. 7But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are of hard forehead and of a stiff heart. 8Behold, I have made thy face hard against their faces, and thy forehead hard against their foreheads. 9As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. 10Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thy heart, and hear with thine ears. 11And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 12Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from his place. 13And I heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, even the noise of a great rushing. 14So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away; and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; and the hand of Jehovah was strong upon me. 15Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river Chebar, and to where they dwelt; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. 16And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 17Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and thou hast delivered thy soul. 22And the hand of Jehovah was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. 23Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of Jehovah stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet; and he spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thy house. 25But thou, son of man, behold, they shall lay bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: 26and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house. 27But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

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When the Prophet is ordered to eat whatever he receives, this ought not to be extended to everything which he meets with, but, whatever may be the taste of the book, he is forbidden to refuse it: for its bitterness might possibly cause him to reject the threats of God. Lastly, the quality of the book is noted, because it contained nothing but the material for sorrow. He adds, that he opened his mouth, for the sake of obedience; by which he signifies that he was not curious or dainty in seeking to taste it, but that he took what was divinely offered him, without the slightest hesitation. Now he adds —

Ezekiel 3:3

3. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

3. Et dixit mihi, Fili hominis, ventrem tuum pasce, et viscera tua reple 6666     “Thou shalt fill.” — Calvin volumine isto, quod ego do tibi, et comedi, et fuit in ore meg tanquam mel in dulcedine.

 

Ezekiel, as we have just seen, proceeds to say, that a book was given him to eat, because God’s servants ought to speak from the inmost affection of their heart. We know that many have a tongue sufficiently fluent, but use it only for ostentation: meanwhile, God treats their vanity as a laughing stock, because their labor is fruitless. Hence we must observe the passage of Paul already quoted, “the kingdom of God is with power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20.) But the efficacy of the Holy Spirit is not exerted unless when he who is called to teach applies his serious endeavors to attain to the discharge of his duty. For this reason, then, Ezekiel is commanded to eat the roll Next he says, it was as sweet as honey; and, but a little before, he said it was filled with curses: therefore, either he had put off all humanity, or ought to be grieved, when he found himself appointed to be the herald of God’s vengeance. But, in other places, we saw that the servants of God were endued with feelings of an opposite kind; for, as they were often rough and stern like their work, so they condoled with the miserable people: but, their grief did not hinder them from proceeding in the discharge of their duty. For this reason Ezekiel now says, the book was sweet, because he acquiesced in God’s commands, and although he pitied his own people, yet he acknowledged that it could not happen otherwise, and subscribed to the just judgment of God. Therefore, by the word sweetness, he signifies his acquiescence in embracing the office enjoined upon him, and he so obeyed God that he forgot all the material for sorrow in the book, because the justice of God prevailed and thus extinguished the feeling of too great humanity which might otherwise have delayed him. Jeremiah uses the same expression. (Jeremiah 15:16.) He says, that he found the words of God, and that they became to him gladness and joy of heart. For we saw, that he was only anxious but very sorrowful when he thought that utter destruction was impending over the people. But, as I have just said, these two things are not discordant: that Prophets should desire the safety of the people, and use their utmost endeavors to promote it, and yet manifest a firm constancy, and never hesitate, when necessity demands it, to condemn the people and to utter God’s threats which are enjoined ‘upon them. Thus shortly afterwards Jeremiah says, that he was filled with anger; thy words were found, says he, and I did eat them, and they afforded me joy and gladness of heart, because thy name has been called over me, O Jehovah God of hosts: that is, because I have been taught by the power of thy Spirit, and as I have been called to this office, so thou hast stretched forth thy hand unto me that I may fulfill thy commands with good faith and constancy: therefore thy words were my delight. Afterwards he adds, (Ezekiel 3:17,) neither have I sat in the council of scorners, nor have I exalted myself for the sake of throwing off the yoke; for since I perceived that thou must be obeyed, I was, as it were, overpowered, yet I did not sit with the scorners, but I sat alone, says he, because thou hast filled me with indignation. Hence we see, that in one person were two feelings very different and contrary in appearance, because he was filled with indignation, and yet received joy through the words of God.




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