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He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.

4 He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them. 5For you are not sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel— 6not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. 7But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8See, I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. 9Like the hardest stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not fear them or be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 10He said to me: Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears; 11then go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them. Say to them, “Thus says the Lord G od”; whether they hear or refuse to hear.

Ezekiel at the River Chebar

12 Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the L ord rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; 13it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. 14The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the L ord being strong upon me. 15I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days.

16 At the end of seven days, the word of the L ord came to me: 17Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18If I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give them no warning, or speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. 19But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 20Again, if the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before them, they shall die; because you have not warned them, they shall die for their sin, and their righteous deeds that they have done shall not be remembered; but their blood I will require at your hand. 21If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning; and you will have saved your life.

Ezekiel Isolated and Silenced

22 Then the hand of the L ord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. 23So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the L ord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; 26and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. 27But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord G od”; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

He confirms what we have formerly seen, namely, that he was acted upon by the Spirit of God, so that it was in some way without himself, and not as profane men have invented, enthusiastically: for their Prophets were deprived of self-control, and the devil so dealt with them, that they were not of sound mind. Hence the Prophet does not understand that he was deprived of self-control, because God’s Prophets were of a sedate and composed mind; but he understands that he was so governed by the Spirit of God, that he was unlike himself, and did not breathe a terrestrial air; lastly, he understands that visible marks were graven upon him, which obtained for his doctrine authority with all the people. And it was the more necessary that the Prophet should be adorned with his own proofs, on account of the dullness of the people, and also because his message was distasteful to them, and he had not previously discharged the duty of a teacher. It was needful, therefore, that he should be so renewed that the people should acknowledge him as inspired. He had lived familiarly among his friends, and was sufficiently known both by appearance and character. Meanwhile God, as I have said, separated him from common life, that he should represent something celestial; and the object of this was, as we have shown, to conciliate confidence and reverence towards his teaching. He felt indeed the agitation of the Spirit, and it is scarcely to be doubted that the people also knew it, otherwise they would scarcely have had confidence in him when speaking of himself.

The object of this remarkable government of the Spirit was, that the Israelites, if only awake and attentive to the miracle, might know the Prophet to be in some manner renovated. But what follows seems opposed to the former sentence; for he says (Ezekiel 3:3) the volume was sweet as honey, but now that he departed in the bitterness of his spirit;. but as I briefly explained yesterday, this is easily reconciled; for the Prophet was not deprived of all sensation. Although he was entirely consecrated to God, and in no degree remitted his diligence and alacrity, yet he retained some human feelings: hence the spirit of bitterness of which he speaks, which he calls his own spirit Whence we perceive an implied contrast between that motion by which he was caught up and that feeling, which, although not sinful, was in some way different from the grace of the Spirit, because the Prophet so burnt with zeal that he performed the commands of God almost in forgetfulness of self: yet, at the same time, he felt within him something human, since the power of the Spirit had not extinguished all sorrow. We hold, therefore, that the Prophet was in some degree inspired by the Spirit, and yet that his own spirit was bitter He adds, and the hand of Jehovah was strong upon me By “hand,” some understand prophecy, but in my opinion ignorantly: I do not doubt that its meaning is power or authority. He says, the hand of God was strong, because he ought to obey God, although the bitterness of which he spoke should draw him in a contrary direction. As Paul says, (2 Corinthians 5:14, and Philippians 1:23,) that he was constrained by a zeal of God, so also the Prophet signifies that he was constrained by the secret instinct of the Spirit, so that he did not act from human motives, nor yet obey the wishes of his own mind, nor follow his own individual will, but was only intent on rendering obedience to God. In this sense, then, he says, that the hand of God was strong upon him Otherwise it might be objected — why did he not fall away when he was so oppressed with grief, and anxiety so overwhelmed his spirit? he replies, the hand of God was strong and prevailed, since otherwise he would have failed a hundred times, had he not been supported by the power of God. And thus we see that there was some repugnance in the Prophet, since as man he was affected with sorrow, but the power of the Holy Spirit ruled over him, so that he denied himself and all his human affections.

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