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Ezekiel Isolated and Silenced
22 Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you.
God seems in some way to play with his Prophet, when he sends him about, and apparently changes his plan. For the duty of teaching was previously imposed upon the holy man, but now he is commanded to go abroad, and afterwards God orders him to shut himself up at home. Hence this variety seems like a change of plan, when God first commands his servant to speak, and afterwards to be silent. But it is by no means doubtful that, by this method, the authority of the Prophet was confirmed, when God evidently governed his tongue, whether for speech or silence. For although he was created a teacher, yet he restrained himself till God should suggest what he was to say. Afterwards he was ordered to be silent, and obeyed God; then when God dictated words, and commanded him to go forth in public, he began to discharge his office. Now, if he had begun to speak directly upon his appointment, too great levity might be objected against him; but when he showed his alacrity, and yet remained silent during God’s pleasure, greater weight was added to his teaching.
Now we understand to what purpose the hand of God was upon him By the hand of God his power is understood; for that exposition is cold, as I have before observed, which interprets the hand of God as the prophetic office. He perceives, then, that he was impelled by the secret virtue of God. Lastly, the hand of God is nothing else but the agitation of the Spirit, since the Prophet felt that he was not carried forward by human power, or by any arbitrary impulse, tie says, therefore, the hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he said to me arise, and go forth to the plain, that I may speak there with thee. Ezekiel could not but suppose that he was led forth to proclaim immediately God’s commands to the people. But in this opinion he was mistaken, because, as we shall see, he was brought forth into the midst that he should immediately shut himself up at home. But before he says this, he says that he went forth We see hove submissive he was whenever God sent him. And this is worthy of notice, because unless God’s calling please us, and our sense approve 8080 Calvin’s Latin — “Quia nisi nobis arrideat Dei vocatio, et sensus noster subscribat.” The French is — Pource que si la vocation de Dieu ne nons vient a gre, et que nostre sens l’approuve. it, we fly back, or at least put it off. But the Prophet had a just excuse, according to human judgment, for turning his back with some color of reason; for God had often addressed him already, and as yet without fruit. But now, although he is hitherto held in suspense, yet God does not pronounce what he wishes him to do; yet he goes out into the plain, because God commanded him. We are taught by this example, even if the result of things is hidden from us, that as soon as God issues any command, we must obey, even if our senses refuse, yet we ought so to obey him as to follow whenever he calls, even if our doing it seems not only in vain, but ridiculous. But God did not address him in vain when he appeared in his glory, for the appearance of the glory of God ought to satisfy a holy man, although all other things should fail. He saw the glory of God, as it were, near the river Chebar; whence we gather, that. the vision was not fixed to any definite place. God, therefore, appeared once above the bank of the river to his servant, and then in the plain. As to his saying he fell on his face, I have previously explained what he means. It must necessarily happen that the faithful, who are impressed with a serious fear of God, should dread his appearance. The impious, also, are compelled to fear God, but afterwards they grow hardened, and although they are rendered almost lifeless, the stupor which follows extinguishes all sensation. But the fear which the faithful feel from the appearance of God is joined with reverence. Thus also Ezekiel fell on his face, so as not to rise again until the Spirit raised him up, as it follows afterwards.