After a week of being overwhelmed by the vision he had seen, the Lord speaks to Ezekiel again to give him a warning and a charge. Whenever the word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel, he is to speak it to the people so that they are warned of the judgement that will come because of their sinful ways. The warning to Ezekiel is that he is like a watchman over a city, and if he does not warn the people of the danger he sees, he is culpable for the destruction that occurs. If, after he warns them, the people do not listen and they perish, Ezekiel is not guilty, because he did what he was supposed to do. Two scenarios are given, showcasing a wicked person and a righteous person hearing Ezekiel’s message. In both cases Ezekiel’s duty is clear and the person who sins is the one who is judged.
The Lord then commands Ezekiel to have a face-to-face conversation in the valley nearby. Ezekiel again sees the glory of the Lord that he had seen previously, and again falls on his face. But the Lord lifts him up in order to tell him how his prophetic ministry shall go. Ezekiel will become a mute hermit, shut up in his house, only able to speak the words the Lord gives him. He will be unable to reprove the people beyond telling them the prophecies that God has declared against them. Apparently, he can’t even go out among the people to tell them the message he has been given.
Let this be a reminder that God’s ways are higher than our ways. Most of us would think God would want Ezekiel to tell as many people as possible the things He has to say to them. Indeed, that is the strategy employed at other times and places, such as when Jesus sent out the twelve and seventy-two to proclaim the kingdom of God. This time, it seems, God’s purpose is not to change anyone’s mind with the message, but to be a proof of His holiness and sovereignty to future generations. The people eventually notice that Ezekiel doesn’t come of out of his house, and he only speaks when he has a word from the Lord to tell them. Eventually, everyone realizes that he is a true prophet of God when the things he predicts come true. But of course, that means the judgements have fallen already.
Let us be faithful to the calling You have given us, and may Your Name be glorified.