Key Verses: “Moreover 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. And 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.”
TODAY’S LESSON FINDS the Prophet Ezekiel receiving his commission from God to speak to the “house of Israel.” (Ezek. 3:4,5) Like prophets before him, Ezekiel was called to bring adverse news to a disobedient nation. Similarly, God strengthened him against the opposition he would face from the people in carrying out his prophetic commission. He says, “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. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant [sharp stone] harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.”—vss. 7-9
As he did with Isaiah, God gave Ezekiel a vision of his power and glory, to infuse him with sufficient strength to carry out his mission. (Ezek. 1:1-28) In our Key Verses, God instructs Ezekiel to speak the prophecy, whether Israel will hear or not. Immediately after hearing these words, Ezekiel sees another vision similar to the first. (chap. 3:12-14) Through these miraculous events the prophet was being prepared and encouraged for use in God’s service.
Ezekiel’s prophecy details the coming destruction and captivity of Israel to Babylon because of their sins. However, woven throughout Ezekiel’s prophecy against Israel is the recurring promise that, in due time, they would be saved, albeit through severe afflictions. This is most beautifully illustrated in the symbolic “valley of dry bones” prophecy in chapter 37, which foretells the rebirth of Israel as a nation.
Chapters 38 and 39 speak of enemies seeking to destroy Israel after she returns to her land, but God intervenes to destroy them. Chapter 40 to the end of the prophecy talks symbolically of the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple and the resulting blessings which will be for all peoples. Like the healing waters described in Revelation 22, a depiction of life-giving waters is given in chapter 47 of Ezekiel. What beautiful pictures of God’s promised kingdom are thus portrayed in his Word!
In God’s dealings with Ezekiel we find lessons for our own commission as sons of God. Indeed, the words of God’s holy prophets were not merely messages for Israel. The Apostle Paul describes how all their experiences were for our admonition. (I Cor. 10:1-11) Peter also makes it clear that the messages of all God’s holy prophets point toward Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and Savior of the world.—Acts 3:20-24
Ezekiel was faithful in carrying out the commission of God despite the opposition of Israel’s religious leaders. Today, the erroneous doctrines and creeds of men likewise clash with the Bible’s message that the institutions of this “present evil world” will pass away, to prepare mankind for a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”—Gal. 1:4; II Pet. 3:13