Ezekiel 3:8, 9
Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads.…
After hearing that Israel would give no heed to his prophetic messages, the Prophet Ezekiel must have needed strong encouraging. It is always depressing to engage in a hopeless undertaking. Yet there was a moral necessity for the mission to be fulfilled. And the Lord strengthened and fortified his servant for his painful duty by breathing into him a Divine courage, and by bidding him dismiss all fear. Although Ezekiel's position was very special, every servant and herald commissioned by the Most High to witness on his behalf to his fellow men has frequent need of such encouragement as that imparted to the prophet of the Captivity.
I. THE OUTWARD OCCASIONS OF FEAR. There are many circumstances which are likely to arouse the apprehensions, and so to depress the energies, of God's messengers to Their fellow men.
1. Want of sympathy with his message on the part of those to whom he is sent.
2. An attitude of deliberate indifference and unbelief.
3. Determined resistance and resentment.
4. Threats of personal violence.
The former occasions of fear are such as every minister of religion must expect to encounter. But the Hebrew prophets sometimes met with actual ill treatment - blows, bonds, and death. So it was with the apostles of our Lord, and so it has been with missionaries of the cross, who have fulfilled their ministry among the unenlightened, prejudiced, and hostile heathen. Many have "resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
II. THE INWARD INCLINATION TO FEAR. There is great difference in the matter of constitutional temperament; some men are naturally timid, and prone to be overawed by opposition and intimidation, whilst others have a certain delight in antagonism, and care not what odds are against them in the conflict.
1. Sometimes the messenger of God is too prone to regard his own peace and comfort, and is averse to any step which may bring him into collision with others.
2. The feeling on the part of God's servant, that he is but one against many, inclines him to retirement and reticence.
3. And this is increased when there is no countenance or support from colleagues in labour and warfare. The consciousness of personal feebleness and insufficiency, combined with the feeling of isolation, may naturally account for the prevalence of fear in the presence of difficulty, opposition, and hostility. He who made man, and who is perfectly acquainted with human nature, is aware that his servants are subject to such infirmities, and that they need accordingly a special provision of Divine grace to fortify them against the spiritual danger to which they are exposed.
III. THE DIVINE PRESERVATIVE FROM FEAR.
1. The consciousness of a message from God to be delivered, whether man will hear or forbear, is fitted to take away all dread of men's displeasure, as well as all undue desire for men's favour.
2. The assurance that Divine authority accompanies the Lord's servant is in itself sufficient to make his face and his forehead hard as adamant in the presence of opponents whose only authority lies in force or in the conventional greatness attaching to earthly rank or station.
3. To this is added the express promise of God's aid. The opponents may be mighty; but the soldier of truth and of righteousness has the assurance that he who is with him is mightier still. "Fear not," says the Almighty, "for I am with you." - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.