Author: Ron Graham
Ezekiel Chapters 2 and 3
—Outline and Notes
On this page, chapters 2 and 3 of Ezekiel are outlined and analysed. The chapters mainly describe the commission Ezekiel received from God. This lesson is the second of a series commenced 2020.
1 Context Overview
The second and third chapters of Ezekiel record God’s counsel to Ezekiel when God commissioned him to be a watchman for Israel.
Israel was "An impudent and rebellious people". God did not expect them to listen to Ezekiel, but he sent Ezekiel to them anyway. He gave them another chance.
2 Outline of Ezekiel Chapters 2 and 3
God Commissions Ezekiel
- The Spirit enters Ezekiel and sets him on his feet (Ezekiel 2:1-2).
- God speaks to Ezekiel: "I am sending you to the children of Israel,to a rebellious nation" (Ezekiel 2:3-4).
- God's purpose will not fail: "Whether they hear or whether they refuse...yet they will know that a prophet has been among them" (Ezekiel 2:5).
- God likens Israel to thorns and scorpions. But God encourages Ezekiel: "Do not be afraid of them... though they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 2:6-7).
Ezekiel Eats a Scroll
- Ezekiel sees a hand stretched toward him. In it is a scroll, and "written on it are lamentations and mourning and woe" (Ezekiel 2:8-9)
- Ezekiel eats the scroll. He says, "In my mouth it was sweet like honey" and it filled his belly (Ezekiel 3:1-3)
- God points out that Ezekiel is being sent to his own people, "not a people of unfamiliar speech... whose words you cannot understand" (Ezekiel 3:4-6).
- Yet God declares, "The house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to me" (Ezekiel 2:7).
- God makes Ezekiel’s forehead hard as flint so he can face the rebellious people head on (Ezekiel 3:8-9).
- God repeats the commission and says, "Receive all my words into your heart" (Ezekiel 3:10-11).
Ezekiel is Transported
- Ezekiel says, "The Spirit lifted me up and took me away." He hears a thunderous voice blessing God, the noise of the cherubim’s wings, the noise of the wheels, and a thunderous noise. (Ezekiel 3:12-13).
- Ezekiel further says, "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" (Ezekiel 3:14).
- Ezekiel finds himself back among the captives by the River Chebar "astonished among them seven days" (Ezekiel 3:15).
Ezekiel is Appointed a Watchman for Israel
- God says to Ezekiel "I have made you a watchman... give them warning from me" (Ezekiel 3:16-17).
- Ezekiel’s responsibility for warning Israel and how he can deliver his soul (Ezekiel 3:18-21).
- Ezekiel told to go out into the plain, where God would speak to him again. Ezekiel says, "Behold the glory of the LORD stood there and I fell on my face" (Ezekiel 3:22-23).
- The Spirit lifted Ezekiel on his feet and said, "Go shut yourself inside your house" (Ezekiel 3:24).
- The Israelites will bind Ezekiel with ropes to prevent his work. God will make Ezekiel mute so he cannot rebuke them. But when God speaks to Ezekiel then he will speak what God says (Ezekiel 3:25-27).
- The Israelites must choose which side they are on, God’s or the rebels’ "He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse" (Ezekiel 3:27).
3 Ezekiel’s Physical Experiences in the Vision
Ezekiel was not just an onlooker of the vision God gave him. He was physically connected in the vision.
- The Spirit entered him and lifted him onto his feet.
- He ate a scroll, sweet in his mouth, filling his belly.
- God hardened his forehead like flint.
- His entire body was transported by the Spirit.
- With his eyes he saw the glory of the LORD.
- With his ears he heard God speaking to him.
Physical Body Experiences Spiritual Realm
When one experiences a dream, there is little participation of one’s body. But in a vision, one’s body may participate fully, and be quite involved in the spiritual realm.
For example, when Ezekiel ate the scroll, he does not say that he imagined he ate it. He does not say that he dreamed he ate it. He says, "God caused me to eat that scroll" (Ezekiel 3:1-3).
This should not surprise us. We are spiritual beings living in a tent of flesh. Spirit and flesh are connected; they interact, and both are real.
For example, when you confess Jesus Christ, you "confess with your mouth... and believe in your heart" (Romans 10:9). The fleshly tongue participates with the spiritual heart.
The philosophy of many scientists is that there is only a physical reality. They say we have no spirit and there is no God. They think that a vision is an aberration of the physical brain. Obviously, Ezekiel does not share that philosophy.
4 Ezekiel Made a Watchman (Ezekiel 3:17)
What does God mean when he says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel..." (Ezekiel 3:17a)?
The answer is in what God goes on to say: "Therefore hear a word from me and give them a warning" (Ezekiel 3:17b)?
A watchman has certain traits:
- (1) He takes instructions from an authority;
- (2) He is given a charge to protect;
- (3) He is on the lookout for rebels and foes;
- (4) He gives warning to them and to his charge;
- (5) He is punished if slack or corrupt.
In Ezekiel’s case, God was his authority, The Israelites (the remnant in captivity) were his charge, and the many rebellious ones among them were the foe.
Terms of the Watchman’s Contract
If Ezekiel gave both the rebels and the righteous full warning, their blood would not be on his hands, and he would deliver his soul. But if he failed to warn, then he would be held accountable along with them (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
✭ In giving the great commission, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation..." (Mark 16:15-16), did Jesus not make his disciples watchmen of the world on the same terms as Ezekiel was made a watchman for Israel?
They are useless watchers who fail to warn.
5 The Lost Ten Tribes
The tribes of the northern kingdom are often spoken of as "the ten lost tribes".
It is claimed (and certain doctrines are based upon this claim) that no remnant of these tribes ever returned to or remained in the promised land.
However, this is not so. For example, Anna the prophetess was of the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36).
Not only would some members of the ten tribes have made their way to Judah before, during, and after the Assyrian attack, but some would have been already living among the people of Judah and Benjamin.
In the time of king Josiah, when Passover observance was restored, it was kept with "the priests and Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (2Chronicles 35:17-19).
So in the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the terms Israelites, children of Israel, house of Israel, etc., referred to the remnant of (as it says above) "all Judah and Israel".
6 Can People Choose and Change? (Ezekiel)
We noted that Ezekiel was to warn both the wicked and the righteous. He was to warn the wicked so that they might repent and live. He was to warn the righteous so that they might not turn to evil and die (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
That word from God is one of the clear statements in the Bible concerning a person’s ability to choose and change, either from right to wrong or from wrong to right. People are able to choose their eternal destiny —either eternal life or eternal death.
If people have no choice, then why warn them? If the righteous cannot choose to do evil, and the wicked cannot choose to be righteous, the watchman who warns them is of no effect. The watchman’s warning implies that people can change
If we ask why a person might live and not die, God says, "because he took the warning" (Ezekiel 3:21). God leaves us free to either take the watchman’s warning or reject it.