Ezekiel 3:27
But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; He that hears, let him hear; and he that declines, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
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(27) When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth.—To this Ezekiel evidently refers in Ezekiel 24:27; Ezekiel 33:22, when, after the destruction of Jerusalem, his mouth should no longer be shut. But until then, although he should be greatly restrained in his ordinary utterances by the opposition of the people, yet there would be times when God would give him a message with such power that he would be constrained to declare it, whether the people would hear or whether they would forbear. Such messages are those contained in this book, which at this point begin to be recorded. By all this the difficulties and trials under which the prophet must exercise his office are clearly and strongly set before him. (See Excursus I., “On the Figurative and Symbolical Language of Ezekiel.”)

3:22-27 Let us own ourselves for ever indebted to the mediation of Christ, for the blessed intercourse between God and man; and a true believer will say, I am never less alone than when thus alone. When the Lord opened Ezekiel's mouth, he was to deliver his message boldly, to place life and death, the blessing and the curse, before the people, and leave them to their choice.He that heareth ... - The judicial blindness of which Ezekiel speaks had already fallen upon the great body of the nation (Ezekiel 14:4. Compare Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:11). 27. when I speak … I will open thy mouth—opposed to the silence imposed on the prophet, to punish the people (Eze 3:26). After the interval of silence has awakened their attention to the cause of it, namely, their sins, they may then hearken to the prophecies which they would not do before.

He that heareth, let him hear … forbear—that is, thou hast done thy part, whether they hear or forbear. He who shall forbear to hear, it shall be at his own peril; he who hears, it shall be to his own eternal good (compare Re 22:11).

When I speak with thee; whenever I shall reveal any thing to thee; or, when I shall have discovered all to thee which thy people should be informed in; then I will open thy lips, and loose they tongue, and give thee power to speak.

Thou shalt say unto them; in point of duty thou must tell them what I speak, and tell them as from me, who am eternal and sovereign Lord of heaven and earth: and in this style the Lord speaks above eighty times in this prophecy.

Let him hear; it is his duty and safety, and I propose it to his consideration, let him think what he hath to do herein.

Let him forbear; it is at his own peril, thou hast warned him, and now trouble not thyself, neither be grieved much at it. They, a rebellious house, act like themselves in sinning, and thou hast acted like thyself, a faithful admonisher; I will act like myself in punishing and giving them up into the hands of cruel, ravenous, and devouring enemies, who shall destroy them. But when I speak with thee,.... Either when I have made an end of speaking to thee, when I have told thee all my mind, and have given thee all the instructions and prophecies thou art to deliver out; or when I shall speak to thee again, and give thee orders to speak:

I will open thy mouth; loose thy tongue, cause thee to break silence, and thou shall speak freely and fully all that I command thee; fulness of matter, and freedom of speech, are both from the Lord; liberty and opportunity of speaking are at his pleasure; and when he speaks his servants must prophesy, Amos 3:8;

and thou shalt say unto them, thus saith the Lord God; so and so, whatsoever he is pleased to order to be spoken; not that the following words are what were to be said to the people; but they are said to the prophet for his own use, that he might not be uneasy at the unfruitfulness and failure of his ministry:

he that heareth, let him hear; if any will hearken to what is sent to them, as few of them will, it is very well:

and he that forbeareth, let him forbear; or, "he that ceaseth, let him cease" (y); he that ceaseth from hearing, let him do so, do not mind it, or be discouraged at it:

for they are a rebellious house; See Gill on Ezekiel 2:5. The Targum is,

"he that receiveth, let him receive instruction; and he that ceaseth, let him cease from sinning, for it is a rebellious people.''

(y) "et qui cessat cesset", Pagninus, Tigurine version, Starckius; "qui desistere volet desistat", Piscator; "qui desistit audire, desistet". So some in Vatablus.

But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
27. Eventually the prophet’s mouth will be opened, his word will be confirmed, and he will no more have to speak to incredulous ears. (Comp. ch. Ezekiel 29:21). During the existence of the kingdom all the prophets from Amos downward had stood in opposition to the mass of the people. Their teaching whether on religion or on policy ran counter to the inclinations of the multitude. The fall of the state, however, which they had so unanimously predicted gave them consideration in the eyes of the people, and led even the unthinking masses to feel that they were true interpreters of the mind of God and of his government. Passages like ch. Ezekiel 33:10, “Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then should we live?” shew the change taking place in the people’s thoughts, and how they were coming round to take that view of their history which this prophet, as well as his predecessors, had so persistently inculcated. It is not easy to form any clear conception of the prophet’s ministry during the years preceding the fall of the state, but such passages as the above suggest the kind of thoughts which he expresses under the symbols of “dumbness” and “opening of the mouth.” It is unnecessary to say that the “binding” of the prophet here (Ezekiel 3:25), which continues till the fall of Jerusalem, is quite different from the binding in ch. Ezekiel 4:8, which lasts only for a period of days, and is a symbol of Israel bearing its iniquity in exile.Verse 27. - When I speak with thee, etc. This then, as ever, was the condition of the prophet's work. He was to speak out of his own heart. When the "time to speak" came words would be given him (Matthew 10:19). And those he would then speak would be as the echo of those in ver. 11. In our Lord's words (Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9) we have, it may be, a deliberate reproduction of Ezekiel's formula. The LXX., in this instance, it may be noted, translates the second clause by " He who is disobedient (ἀπειθῶν),After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Ezekiel 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Ezekiel 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Ezekiel 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Ezekiel 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Ezekiel 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Revelation 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not equals אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Ezekiel 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Ezekiel 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Revelation 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.
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