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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.

Lastly, we gather from this passage that although the whole world should rise up against the servants of God, yet his strength would be superior, as we saw it was with Jeremiah: They shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail. (Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20.) Hence there is no reason why we should be afraid of the violent attack of any enemy, and although the whole world should be in a tumult, yet we need not tremble, because God’s strength in us will always be more powerful. Therefore it is added, as an adamant, harder than flint, have I placed thee; therefore do not fear them. God says I have placed the forehead of the Prophet like adamant; not that he strove with the people by either injustice or audacity, but because God opposed the confidence with which Ezekiel was endowed to the furious impudence of the people. In this sense then the forehead of the Prophet is said to be adamant Now he adds — do not fear, then, and do not be broken by their face or presence These phrases, that the Prophet be not broken, and yet fear not, seem to be opposed to each other, since he excels in unconquered fortitude. But God so tempers his favor, that the faithful always have need of excitements, even when he animates them, and supplies them with strength. God, therefore, so works within his servants, that they do nothing except as they are ruled by his Spirit; and yet they have need of his teaching, since his exhortations to them are never superfluous. Profane men think that there is no use in teaching, and that all exhortations are frivolous, if God, when he acts upon us by his Spirit, not only begins, but continues and perfects his own work. But the Scripture shows that these two things mutually agree; for while God strengthens us and renders us unconquerable by his Spirit, at the same time he breathes virtue into his exhortations, and causes them to flourish within us, and to bring forth fruit In this way God on his part confirms his Prophet, by giving him an adamantine forehead and more than stony, and by giving him an unconquered spirit, and yet he exhorts him to fear not. We see, then, how God governs his own people within them, and yet adds teaching as an instrument of his Spirit. Then he adds, because they are a rebellious house, or although they are; for the particle כי, ki, is often put adversatively, as we have said elsewhere. If we take it in its proper sense, it will suit very well, because they are a rebellious house; as if it had been said, the Prophet has no cause for fear, because he was carefully admonished beforehand, and nothing new could happen; for we are accustomed to be very much frightened by novelty; but when we have meditated on what happens, we are not disturbed, neither do we stand still nor hesitate; for although the Prophet had already learnt that the house of Israel was rebellious, yet he perseveres, because he experiences nothing new or unusual. It follows —

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