23 June 2011

"I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them." (vv. 4b-5)


Ezekiel was called by God to deliver a challenging message to the people who had been taken into exile in Babylon following the conquest of Judah in 597 BC. Ezekiel was probably one of those who was exiled and he had a vision of God coming from Judah to be among the people in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1-28). Ezekiel had fallen on his face before the vision of God enthroned on the cherubim, here he is told to stand and enabled to do so by the Spirit. He was addressed as "mortal" (vv. 1, 3, 6, 8) making clear his status in relation to God. The literal translation of "mortal" is "Son of Man" and the term is used 93 times in Ezekiel, more than in the rest of the Old Testament. In contrast the name Ezekiel only appears twice. This prophet is defined by his relationship with God and is adressed as "mortal" only by God or God's representative.

The people are described as impudent, stubborn and rebellious (verses 3-4). Their ancestors had rebelled against God but it is their own response that is important. It is possible that they will hear the words of the prophet (verse 7) but the likelihood is that they will not do so, and this will be hard and even dangerous for the prophet. His hearers are likened to briers, thorns and scorpions and Ezekiel is told not to be afraid of them (verse 6).

Whatever the response of the people they will be in no doubt that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel stood in the tradition of the prophets of Israel. Like Isaiah he had a vision of God on his throne and was sent to a rebellious people who would not listen (Isaiah 6:1-10). He was inspired by the spirit of God and he used the traditional introduction to his message, "Thus says the Lord God". Ezekiel was called, like others before and since, to deliver a hard message to people who did not want to hear it.

To Ponder

How can you recognise a person who is speaking the word of God?

Have you ever felt called by God to do something difficult? How did it feel?

What do you think are the challenges and the joys of living in relationship with God in today's world?

Bible notes author: The Revd Ruth Gee

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