Q: Why did Ezekiel need to be stood on his feet? Why wasn’t he already standing?
A: Chapter 1 opened with God revealing to Ezekiel the vision of His glory. As it approached him personally and God began speaking to him, he fell on his face. (Ezekiel 1:28)
Point: This is the most common reaction throughout the Bible by those who find themselves in God’s presence. Examples are Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Peter, and so on. A true, personal encounter with God is a humbling, even frightening experience that makes the contrast between Almighty God and merely mortal man crystal clear that man is not able to even stand on his own in the presence of the One True God.
Q: What is significant about God calling Ezekiel “Son of man”?
A: Other than a single instance in which this is applied to Daniel (Daniel 8:17), it is applied to no other prophet except Ezekiel, of whom it is used more than 90 times. It seems to be a reminder to both Ezekiel and the reader that although great visions are revealed to him, Ezekiel is still but a frail, human being. In the Gospels, Christ is referred to at least 80 times as the “Son of man”, the capitalized version a reminder of His dual nature as both God and man while appearing during His earthly ministry.
Point: True prophets are meek and humble, always keenly aware of their lowly relationship to the One True God and never assuming or even encouraging their own elevation. One of the things revealing a false prophet is their insistence on respect and insulation for their office and exalting themselves. The true prophet has “lost” himself; the false is full of himself.
Q: What might be significant about God’s description of “the sons of Israel” as “a rebellious people”?
A: The word used for “people” is the same word that is usually used to describe Gentiles. In the original language and to Jewish ears of the time, this phrase would strongly convey the fact that their disobedience has been so complete that they’re in danger of losing their special status as His chosen people. It compliments what God declared through Hosea:
And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”
— Hosea 1:9
Q: What are the terms God uses in v.3-4 to describe Israel’s spiritual condition? What do they have in common and what do they combine to portray?
A: “Rebellious” (v.3), “transgressed against Me” (v.3), “stubborn” (v.4), and “obstinate” (v.4). They all have in common that one must consciously and intimately know the things they are rejecting and willfully choosing to go against it. They combine to portray the consequences of their rejection of God personally. It’s like someone having taken the wedding vows and wearing the wedding ring who commits adultery; there’s no way they can say they’re not willfully and knowingly rejecting their spouse.
Q: Is God saying in v.5 that it doesn’t matter whether or not they respond to Ezekiel?
A: No, God is setting personal parameters for Ezekiel. He is calling Ezekiel to the highest level of personal accountability, that he should maintain a faithful relationship with God REGARDLESS of how others react to God’s Word through Him. It’s another teaching that God judges each individual heart, even the heart of a prophet, holding them accountable not for what other people do, but the individual. In Ezekiel’s case, v.6-7 encourage him to ignore their reaction no matter how egregious and stick to the personal task at hand, “But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not”.
Q: Why do you suppose v.6-7 sound so negative? Why does God seem to set the lowest expectations of success for Ezekiel?
A: God is not sending Ezekiel to people who have never heard of God’s salvation nor who are seeking a remedy for their sinful condition; He is sending him to “a rebellious house”, a people who know exactly what they have rejected. They will not merely actively oppose God’s Word through Ezekiel, but react by attacking it. Rebellion is actually more than just rejection, but an active war to break away and sever all ties
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
— Romans 8:6-8
Point: True biblical prophets act like evangelists, only to God’s people. They are reaching out to those steeped in sin, calling them back to the Lord. Just like evangelists, they have to keep their spiritual integrity intact, resisting against becoming like those around them and reaching out to everyone whether or not God’s message through them is accepted.