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3. Warning to Israel

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that 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 an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened 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 impudent and hardhearted. 8Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong 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 be a rebellious house. 10Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine 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 GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 12Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. 13 I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a 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; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.

15Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. 16And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord 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 thine 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 righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

22And the hand of the Lord 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 the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. 24Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. 25But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put 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 GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

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.

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