To the casual reader of the Bible, the books of the prophets seem very much alike. There seems no discernible difference between one and another as regards either matter, structure, or style. To some extent, this view is correct, and necessarily so The Spirit of God is the author of them all through various human instrumentalities; and therefore there is a uniformity of character in them which distinguishes them from the products of diverse human authorship.
At the same time, there is a difference that becomes manifest to the close and constant acquaintance of loving study. It is not the difference of a different authorship, but the variation of excellence in which the wisdom of God delights, as in the diversified works of nature, or the differing spirit-gifts which that "one and the self same spirit" bestowed on the governing eldership of the Apostolic age.
Ezekiel is before us in to-day's reading as a distinct illustration of this difference between one prophetic book and another. There is a method in the construction of this book that imparts to it a character of its own, and that character, one of peculiar distinctness and interest. There is a beginning, middle, and end to Ezekiel, in a spiritual as well as in a literary sense. He is a witness of the glory of God in a special form, with a special meaning at three different times.
First, we find him a captive among the first batch of captives that went forth to Babylon with Jehoiachin and his queen-mother, and a number of the principal men and inhabitants of the land about twelve years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, at the time Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, king in his place.
He is "by the river of Chebar," one of the tributaries of the Euphrates. He is a young member of a priestly family, and presumably one of those who were an exception to the prevalent temper of the land, in pleasing God by his faith and obedience.
At this time and place, he is appointed a prophet to the house of Israel. The process of his appointment begins with his seeing something, as was frequently the case in the calling of the prophets. What he saw he describes elaborately. His general summary of it is that it was "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (chap. 1:28).
He saw in the heavens, approaching from the north with whirlwind like velocity,
"a great cloud and a fire unfolding itself"
and suffused with electric brightness "as the colour of amber." From the heart of this self-feeding glowing fire-cloud, there emerged and came near to him a wonderful apparatus of wheels and living creatures, surmounted by a throne occupied by a shining human figure, and over-arched by a bow of intense prismatic hues.
The living creatures and the wheels were full of eyes and quivering with light and flame, and the whole ran and returned with the rapidity of the lightning flash. This "appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" was one of "the similitudes" which God tells us by Hosea (12:10) he made use of in "multiplied visions" "by the ministry of the prophets."
It is therefore full of significances most interesting to search out. Dr. Thomas has given us the clue to their import which ordinary intelligence is able to trace out. The self-feeding fire-cloud stands as the symbol of the Eternal One: the throne-surmounted living creatures and the wheels represent to us the Israelitish form of the intended manifestation of his self-evolved glory upon the earth in his chosen sons and daughters, when they shall have acquired, in their change to Spirit nature, the added powers of divine locomotion and omniscience.
The throne stands for the kingdom, and the occupant thereof for Him under whom it is His purpose to gather together all things in one - Eph. 1: 10.
Sunday morning 183
1 And He said unto me, Son of man [Ben Adam], stand upon thy feet [raglayim], and I will speak unto thee.
As also came to pass with Daniel (Dan. 10:11)
Ezekiel strengthened to proclaim the Vision
2 And the spirit [Ruach (Hakodesh)]entered into me when He spake unto me [just as He spoke unto me], and set me upon my feet [raglayim], that I heard him that spake unto me.
These two prophets (Daniel and Ezekiel) in exile were both taught the coming resurrection. Resurrection is a symbol of spiritual understanding (Rom. 6:3). In that sense this man of sign had to stand upright to hearken and proclaim the Word of Yahweh to the people. GEM
3 And he said unto me, Son of man [Ben Adam], I send thee to the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel], to a rebellious nation [Goyim HaMoredim] that hath rebelled against Me: they and their fathers have transgressed [Avot have rebelled] against Me, even unto this very day.
Ezekiel is addressed. He is called to his mission, and warned that he will be among briars, thorns, and scorpions. Clearly the "good figs" were a small minority, even of those carried away, but there would always be a faithful few.
Bro Growcott - Prophecies in the 5th year of Captivity - 592 BC
So Ezekiel is instructed to go forth with the gospel of divine manifestation to the people of both Judah and Israel (mg.). The same word for "nation" (goyim) is used for the Gentiles, for Israel and Judah were so acting. GEM
The eating of the Roll
8 But thou, son of man [Ben Adam], hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious [meri] like that rebellious [hameri ] house [ bais]: Open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.
9 And when I looked, behold [hinei], an hand [hinei] was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book [megillat sefer] was therein;
10 And He spread it [unrolled the megillah] before me; and it was written within and without [on front and back]: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.
A scroll held in a hand was sent to him. It was a scroll of judgment to be executed; for therein were written lamentations, and mourning, and woe(ii. 8-10). This he was commanded to eat, and then to go and speak to Israel. What he ate was suggestive of what he afterwards spoke and wrote in his book. It was said to him,
"Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this scroll that I give thee. "Then," says Ezekiel, "did I eat."
Now, the effects produced upon him by the eating to fulness being identical with those affecting John [Rev 10: 9 - the labours of the angel of the bow], we are enabled, upon the principle of like causes producing like effects, to determine what the contents were of the little scroll eaten by John. Ezekiel and John were similarly affected.
"It was in my mouth," says Ezekiel, "as honey for sweetness;" and then, in ch. iii. 14, he tells us
"the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the hot anger of my spirit: and the hand of Yahweh was strong upon me."
And when John applied for the opened scroll, and it was given to him, he was told by the angel it should make his "belly bitter, but in his mouth be sweet as honey."
Ezekiel's scroll when eaten, though prophetic of judgments causing lamentations, and mourning, and woe, was as honey for sweetness, because,
"the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether; more to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey, and droppings of honeycombs. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping them there is great reward" (Psa. xix. 10,11).
This explains the sweetness in the mouths of Ezekiel and John. The contents of the scrolls were the joy and rejoicing of their hearts; for in the complete execution of "the judgments written," they saw the development of the promised recompense of reward.Eureka 10.13.
The sequel of Ezekiel's prophecy is in complete accord with this description of its character. It is, with slight intermissions here and there, a continual exhibition of coming calamity because of iniquity. In this, Ezekiel is no exception to the other prophets. They are all of them deeply tinged and charged with this element which is so repugnant to human feeling. They are all of them burdened with wrath and evil-all of them full of deprecation and condemnation of Israel to whom they were addressed.
Bro Roberts - God will avenge Gentile disobedience