Then the spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet, and spoke with me, and said to me, Go, shut yourself within your house.…
Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, etc. Seclusion and silence were enjoined upon Ezekiel for a time. Our text teaches that the temporary suspension of his active ministry -
I. WAS COMMANDED BY THE LORD. "Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house" (cf. Ezekiel 2:2). One would have been inclined to conclude that, when he was revived by the Spirit, the prophet would have been ordered to enter upon active service. But he was commanded to seclude himself within his house. This seclusion was probably intended as:
1. A season of meditation for the prophet. Such seasons are requisite for those whose work for God is public and arduous; and in his providence God so orders their lives that such seasons are attainable by them; e.g.. Moses in the desert of Mitian (Exodus 3:1); St. Paul in Arabia (Galatians 1:17); Martin Luther in the monastery of Erfurt, and in the castle of Wartburg.
2. As a silent admonition to the people. God would instruct them by symbol, that from a rebellious people the prophetic presence and voice may be withdrawn. If men will not heed the reproofs of his servants, the reprover shall be silent towards them (ver. 26).
II. WAS OCCASIONED BY THE OBSTINACY OF THE PEOPLE IN WICKEDNESS. "But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them." This verse is a difficult one, and we cannot assert dogmatically what it means; but it seems to us that it should be taken metaphorically, and that it symbolizes the truth that the persistent sins of the people occasioned the seclusion and silence of the prophet. Dr. Fairbairn thus paraphrases the verse under consideration: "Their obstinate and wayward disposition shall be felt upon thy spirit like restraining fetters, repressing the energies of thy soul in its spiritual labours, so that thou shalt need to look for thy encouragement elsewhere than in fellowship with them. The imposition of bands must be understood spiritually, of the damping effect to be produced upon his soul by the conduct of the people. It is a marked specimen of the strong idealism of our prophet, which clothes everything it handles with the distinctness of flesh and blood." The persistent rebelliousness of the people occasioned the temporary suspension of the active work of the prophet. The unbelief of our Lord's own countrymen was as bands upon him, restraining the exercise of his benevolent power. "And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." Obstinacy in wickedness deprives man of the most precious spiritual possessions.
III. WAS TO BE RIGIDLY ENFORCED. "And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house." This is to be taken metaphorically. "Because the people would silence the prophet, God, to punish them, will close his mouth." During the time of the suspension of his prophetic activity he would be as silent to them as a dumb man. When the Lord determines to deprive a people of any blessing which they have despised or persistently disregarded, his determination will certainly be enforced.
IV. WAS TO BE ONLY TEMPORARY. "But when I speak with thee, I will open thy month, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God," etc. The withdrawal of the messenger of the Lord was not to be permanent. The prophet would speak again when God willed him to do so. When his seclusion and silence had produced their effect, he must go forth and proclaim the word of the Lord. The following observations are suggested by this verse:
1. The prophet is empowered for his work by the Lord. "When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth." Ezekiel received his message from the Lord, and was emboldened by him to deliver it.
2. The prophet is authorized in his work by the Lord. "Thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God." Both the silence and the speech of Ezekiel were expressly ordered by God. In both he was under the control of his Divine Master, remaining silent when so directed by him, and proclaiming his word whet, commanded and enabled by him to do so. "This represents forcibly the authoritative character and Divine origin of the utterances of the Hebrew prophets."
3. The prophet's great concern in his work should be to be faithful to the Lord. "Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house." Ezekiel was not responsible for the success of his work with the people. But fidelity in executing the commissions which he received from his great Master was required of him. For this he was responsible. And still "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2).
CONCLUSION. Our subject addresses to us solemn admonition as to our treatment of the Word of the Lord. If we persistently despise or disregard that Word, he may withdraw it from us, or place us beyond the sphere of the ministry thereof. Neglected privileges may justly and reasonably be taken away from those who have neglected them (cf. Amos 1:4-12). - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.