And the hand of the LORD was there on me; and he said to me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with you.
The apparent success of wickedness is a seed of retribution. The people do not wish to hear, therefore their ears shall be hardened. They gnash their teeth on God's prophet, therefore God will remove him into a corner.
I. SECLUSION FROM MEN BRINGS NEARER ACCESS TO GOD. Such experience our Lord himself passed through. "I shall be left alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." "Arise, and go forth into the plain," said God to Ezekiel, "and I will there talk with thee." It is painful to be hindered and repulsed on a mission of mercy; but the servant of God may remember that the opposition is not to him, but to his Master. We naturally love society; we love success; we love to feel that our influence is moving men in the right direction. Resolute and persistent opposition is painful; but the friendship of God compensates for a thousand disappointments. If he smiles, it matters little who may frown.
II. THE OPPOSITION OF MEN BRINGS ALL GOD'S HOST TO THE PROPHET'S SIDE. The glorious vision which Ezekiel had seen on the banks of the Chebar was repeated in the plain. Representatives of all the living forces of heaven appeared again as the prophet's allies. In such a cause, and with such allied powers, triumph must eventually ensue. Though repelled, the prophet is not defeated; "Though cast down, not destroyed." If he pleased, God could have secured outward and apparent success for his messenger. He could have smitten with sudden death the more rebellious, and made the calamity an instrument for impressing and silencing others. But his wisdom preferred another course. "His thoughts are not our thoughts." Ezekiel very likely required yet further training for his work. We see not the scope and grandeur of Jehovah's plans at present; but by and by we shall be able to say, "He hath done all things well."
III. THE DEAFNESS OF MEN CURTAILS THE REVELATION FROM GOD. Men's pride usually becomes their punishment. They scourge themselves with their own sins. If they make themselves dear, God will make his servant dumb. The time will come when they shall earnestly desire to hear some message from the Lord, but they shall desire in vain. They may attempt to force the prophet into speech, but they will attempt in vain. Saul, the first King of Israel, was disobedient to the heavenly voice; yet when he was entangled in thick dangers, he cried to God, but God answered not, neither by prophet, nor by vision, nor by Urim or Thummim. "Because I called, and ye refused... I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." Reproof was the kindest message the people could have from God, yet they understood it not. The hardened soil must be broken up by the plough before it is of any use to cast in the seed. The diseased man needs medicine, not sweetmeats. And when, at times, God does give his prophets a word to utter, it is only the word of reproof again. He will bring their self-will and pride again to remembrance. The pearls of his gospel he casts not before swine. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.