Key Question: Is there anything more life defining and life altering and meaningful and fulfilling than being called by God for a specific task and mission that is far greater than ourselves?
In commissioning him, Ezekial needed an encounter with God as he saw visions of God (Eze 1:3). But it cannot be done only by sight; language must intrude, since a commission involves the giving of instructions. Essentially, the instructions contain two main ideas:
- God tells Ezekiel that his message will not be received well.
- God makes the point forcefully that Ezekiel is a bound man who must speak God's word regardless of their reception of it.
God's Commission of Ezekiel as a Prophet (Ch. 1-3):
- The Vision (Ch. 1): An Encounter with God.
- The Commission and Mission (Ch. 2-3a): Driven by a High Calling.
- The Vocation (Ch. 3b): A Very Strange Job Description.
- A Horrifying Message (Ch. 4-7).
"He said to me, 'Son of man [human], stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.' 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me" (Eze 2:1-2). “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail [refuse] to listen, for they are rebellious [a rebellious house]” (Eze 2:7). “Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth’” (Eze 3:3). “Look, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. 9 I have made your forehead like a diamond, harder than flint. Don’t be afraid of them or discouraged by the look on their faces, even though they are a rebellious house” (Eze 3:8-9; HCSB).
In seeing visions of God (Eze 1:1) Ezekiel's encounter with God suggests important lessons about God. Similarly the commission narrative offers vital information on the relationship between God and those whom he calls into his service. Whoever would serve as a messenger of God must know or have a sense of the following:
- Stand up (Eze 2:1-2). Give your full attention, devotion, concentration, focus and seriousness. Do not take God's high calling sitting down. Is there anything of importance that even comes close to living out God's calling upon your life?
- "I am sending you" (Eze 2:3-5). The calling comes from God alone. The God who appoints his servants also i) defines the task, ii) chooses the field of service, iii) provides the message and iv) assumes responsibility for the outcome. The less evident the fruit of one's ministry, the more critical is a clear sense of calling.
- "The Spirit came into me" (Eze 2:2). "The Spirit lifted me up" (Eze 3:12-14). Empowered by the Spirit of God. Ezekiel was the prophet of the Spirit. Animated and energized by the infusion of God's Holy Spirit, he serves as a model to all who would stand in the Lord's presence and all who would enter his service. Divine equipping commensurate with the calling. God is aware of the challenges his servants face. When he assigns a task, he assumes responsibility for preparing them for that work. God's call to service is not made on the basis of gifts but vice versa; gifts are given on the basis of the assignment.
- "Eat this scroll" (Eze 2:8-3:3). Inspired by the message of God. The personalities of God's agents color the manner in which the calling is fulfilled, as it certainly was with Ezekiel. But the prophet is primarily accountable to God and the divine word. Merely hearing the message is obviously not enough. It must be *digested, *internalized, *incorporated, *embodied and *lived. The medium becomes the message. The message derives not from private reasoning or logic, or from mystical reflection, but from revelation. Even so, prophetic "inspiration" does not cancel out or overwhelm natural abilities and qualities -- it uplifts and quickens them.
- "You must speak my words to them" (Eze 2:7), "whether they listen or fail to listen" (Eze 2:5, 7b). The calling is not to success but to faithfulness. Every aspect of vocational service remains under the sovereign control of God, especially the results. Apparent effectiveness is no proof of calling, nor even a sure criterion by which to measure faithfulness. The servant messenger embarks on his or her mission as an emissary of the divine King. That privilege alone should provide sufficient motivation for unconditional service.
- A clear vision of the one who sends him or her (Eze 1:1). Unless the servant of God enters divine service with a sense of awe at the privilege of representing the glorious King of heaven and earth, and unless one is convinced of God's sovereignty over all the earth and over all of human history, the ministry will be burdensome, result in burn out and in one's undoing--especially when the opposition is strong and fruit is absent.
- The vision Ezekiel saw in Ch. 1 represents the majestic and awesome glory of God. Read other similar descriptions in Exo 19:16-19; 24:9-10, 15-18 (at the very beginning of the nation), Dan 7:9-10, 13-14, Rev 4:1-11.
- Regarding Ezekiel’s glorious vision what can we do practically to grasp this vision for ourselves and overcome our real and current problems, issues and difficulties?
- Why was Ezekiel prostrate when God spoke to him (2:1; 1:28; 3:23)?
- By what name or designation does God call Ezekiel (2:1, 6, 8; 3:1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 17, 25)? What does this mean?
- Notice the words used to describe Israel (2:3, 4, 6, 7, 8; 3:7, 9). What kind of people/nation were they?
- What are five verbs in the five parts of God’s commissioning speech to Ezekiel (2:1-2, 3-10; 3:1-3, 4-9, 10-11)? What enabled him to do so (2:2; 3:12, 14; 37:1; Rev 1:10; 4:2)? What did God command Ezekiel when faced with opposition (2:6-7; 3:8-11)? What was Ezekiel told to do (2:9-3:1)? What does this signify? How does he feel (3:12-15)?
- Block, Daniel I. The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, NICOT (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1997.
- Wright, Christopher J.H. The Message of Ezekiel, BST (Bible Speaks Today). IVP, Downers Grove, IL, 2001.