Ezekiel 3:26, 27
And I will make your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, that you shall be dumb, and shall not be to them a reprover…
The wise man has said, "There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." There are those who speak when they would do well to hold their peace; there are those who are speechless when it becomes them to utter their mind with boldness. A prophet is emphatically one who speaks for God; a silent prophet is a paradox. Yet, as Ezekiel was, of all his order, the one whose ministry was especially a ministry of symbol, it is only in harmony with his peculiar vocation that, for a time and for a purpose, he should be as one dumb. On the other hand, the abundance of his utterances is apparent from the length to which the book of his prophecies extends. There were reasons fur both his dumbness and his speech.
I. THE TESTIMONY OF SILENCE. That God should enjoin one of his own prophets to silence is certainly a very remarkable fact, and one that needs explanation.
1. It is evidence of Israel's unbelief and inattention. When the people refused to hear, there was a solemn dignity in the refusal of the prophet any longer to speak.
2. It is in rebuke of Israel's attempt to silence the Lord's messenger. The people would have their monitor hold his peace; and God gave them their will. The oracle was dumb.
3. The silencing of the prophet was judicial. Punishment is a reality; and severe indeed is the penalty inflicted upon that nation in which the voice of God's prophets is silenced. The effects of such sin recoil upon the sinners' heads.
4. Such silencing was suggestive. It offered opportunity for reflection; it called for consideration regarding the future; it may well have appeared to the thoughtful premonitory of worse calamities to follow.
II. THE TESTIMONY OF SPEECH.
1. This is the result of Divine preparation: "When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth." The same power which, at one time and for one purpose, closes the lips, at another time and lot another purpose, opens them. So long as God withholds the message, the prophet is silenced; no sooner is the message conveyed to the prophet than he is empowered to utter it.
2. This is in fulfilment of a Divine commission: "Thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God." A command like this may well unseal the lips. The man who is convinced that he is justified in thus prefacing his utterances may well speak, whether his message be palatable or unpalatable, whether it bring the messenger praise or blame from his fellow men. 3 This accompanied by Divine authority: "He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear." It is for the people's own advantage that the prophet witnesses; if he warns, it is that they may escape threatened danger; if he promises, it is that they may obtain blessings; if he commands, it is that they may obey, and secure the rewards of obedience. Accordingly, it is for the people to consult their own highest interests. But in any case they are subject to Divine authority; from that, and all that it involves, there is no escape.
1. God has different ways of dealing with men; sometimes not only different, but apparently opposite ways, as in the case before us. And indeed, one man may be reached and benefited by speech; another man, by silence.
2. In whatever way God deals with us, we are equally and inevitably responsible. It is indeed in our power to hear or to forbear, i.e. to obey or to disobey. But to every man faith and obedience bring blessing; and moreover (which is still more important), they are in themselves right and becoming. Ours is the privilege; ours is the accountability for its proper use. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.