Ezekiel 2:4, 5
For they are impudent children and stiff hearted. I do send you to them; and you shall say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD.…
Nothing is clearer than that the prophets did not believe themselves to be acting and speaking simply upon the promptings of their own inclinations or their own convictions of what was right and expedient. Whether they were self-deluded or not, certain it is that they deemed themselves ministers and messengers of the Eternal. It was this which gave them both courage and authority. In the most explicit manner, Ezekiel in this passage records his commission to go among his fellow countrymen as the herald of God's wisdom, authority, and grace.
I. THE COMMISSION. "I do send thee unto them." There is great simplicity and great dignity in this language of authorization; he who heard it could never forget it. When disappointed in the result of his ministry, or alarmed at the threats of those whom he sought to benefit, these words must often have recurred to the mind of the prophet, inspiring him with fresh zeal and courage. If the ambassador of a powerful king is strengthened in the fulfilment of his trust by the recollection that he received his authority from a court honoured by friends and feared by foes, how much more must the ambassador from God derive courage and confidence from the knowledge that he is sent by the Supreme, who will never desert those who engage in his service and do his will!
II. THE MESSAGE. At first the prophet received no other message than this: "Thus saith the Lord God." But this was the earnest of much to follow. And, indeed, the whole of the prophecies were amplifications of this. Ezekiel was to go among the children of the Captivity with words from Jehovah. A prophet is one who speaks for, on behalf of, the Divine Being by whom he is commissioned. If the speaker had his own special reasons for believing that the words he uttered were not his own, but God's, those who listened to his declarations of warning and of promise had a witness within, in the testimony of their own conscience, assuring them that the prophet spoke with Divine authority. And this is so still with all who will listen reverently and obediently to the heavenly voice. It is thus that the Scriptures possess over our minds a preeminent power; their writers preface every authoritative utterance with the statement, "Thus saith the Lord."
III. THE VARIOUS RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. It is in accordance with the reasonableness of the inspired writers that. they cherished such moderate expectations regarding the effect to be produced by their ministry. Fanatics would have felt assured that, in such circumstances, they must meet with ready credence and immediate obedience. Ezekiel certainly had no such delusive anticipations, and was indeed expressly warned that his message would meet with varying reception. Some would hear, some would forbear. It was with Ezekiel as in the Christian dispensation it was with Paul; we are told that the result of his ministry at Rome was that "some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved."
IV. THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED BY GOD'S MESSENGER UPON THOSE TO WHOM HE WAS SENT. "They shall know that there hath been a prophet among them." Even those who were so much under the influence of ignorance, prejudice, evil example, and sin, that they did not and would not turn unto God, nevertheless were well aware that their obstinate impiety was unjustifiable. They might ridicule the prophet in their language, but they reverenced him in their hearts. Beneath the laugh of incredulity was a deep-seated fear, springing from an inward conviction that the voice they rejected was indeed the voice of God. Had one come among them flattering their vanity and pride, and ministering to their sinful tastes, they would in their heart of hearts have despised him. But when one came fearlessly upbraiding them with their unfaithfulness, and denouncing their guilty defection, they could not but know that a prophet had been among them.
APPLICATION. This passage has an especial significance for ministers of God's Word, and for all religious teachers. It shows them where their strength lies; warns them against enunciating their own speculations or inculcating precepts founded upon their own experience; and directs them to go among their fellow men with this dignified and effective message, "Thus saith the Lord." They may be tempted to court men's favour and good will by uttering words of flattery. But it is well that, when so tempted, they should remember that there is in men a conscience, which may be repressed, but which cannot be crushed, which renders a homage, though silent, to the just authority of truth and righteousness, and which recognizes, even though it does not lead to practical obedience, the precepts and the warnings which are from God. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD.