And the spirit entered into me when he spoke to me, and set me on my feet, that I heard him that spoke to me.…
Every prophet is a missionary; every true missionary is a prophet. In an inferior sense of the word, he is a mediator - a mediator between God and man.
I. THE MISSIONARY CHARACTER OF THE PROPHET. He is one "sent." He goes not to this difficult and responsible work by the impulse of his own reason or will. He is in the employ and under the direction of another - of One whom he cannot disregard. He cannot go or stay, as he pleases, he is a servant. The Son of God himself has undertaken similar work. He was "sent" into our world on an errand of kindness. "As thou hast sent me, so have I sent them."
II. THE MISSIONARY'S UNPROMISING FIELD OF ACTION. "I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation." The possession of outward advantages, or of special Divine favours, does not ensure gratitude or obedience on the part of men. In Eden, man transgressed. In Canaan, the glory of all lands, the Hebrews rebelled. Righteousness is not conveyed by blood relationship. The piety of Abraham did not descend in the line of natural posterity. But rebellion is a weed that grows freely in the degenerate soil of the human heart. The people of Israel, in Ezekiel's time, were hardened in sin. The evil had become inveterate by long centuries of vicious habit, sad all the alternate measures of kindness and severity which God had employed had failed to reduce the people to submission. Though now in exile and disgrace, yet "to that very day" the rebellious spirit continued. Nor were they even ashamed of the past. No blush tinged their cheeks. All right feeling seemed petrified within!
III. THE MISSIONARY'S INSTRUMENT. He is armed simply with the authoritative Word of God. What he hears from God, that, and that alone, may he speak! He is not allowed to elaborate, from his own judgment, conditions of reconciliation. He is not to rely for success on the inventiveness of reason, nor on beguiling acts of sophistry, nor on the persuasiveness of subtle rhetoric. He is to proclaim everywhere, "Thus saith the Lord!" Authority is the weapon on which he is to rely - not human authority, but Divine. He is to be simply the mouthpiece of Deity. But, being this, he will become the power of God and the wisdom of God. His business is to speak Divine truth with all the pathos of Divine love.
IV. THE MISSIONARY'S ENCOURAGEMENT. Whether the people would hear, or whether they would forbear, was still an unsolved problem so far as the prophet was concerned. God had not given to him the promise of visible and direct success. But whether they accepted or rejected the Divine overtures, the end which God anticipated would be realized. The people should have this conviction inwrought in their minds, viz. that a messenger from God had been among them. This was all that Ezekiel might confidently expect. This was the goal at which he was to aim, viz. to convince them that he was God's prophet - to commend his mission to the consciences of the people. Hence, if no other end was gained, he was not to feel depression of soul. Whether the people relented or further rebelled, he was to continue his simple work; and rest assured that God would defend his own cause, and bring final good out of present evil. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.