Ezekiel 2:4-7. “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.”’
Exegesis and Application
The thing that strikes me immediately about this passage is God’s full awareness of the vicious opposition and pushback by Ezekiel’s fellow citizens to the Yahwehistic message and lifestyle. God does not live in an alternate universe. It is His universe and He understands and has felt the hatred for His message of repentance and turning to Him. The LORD is blunt and starkly to the point: expect abuse from your neighbors when you only say, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says.” There is no content to the message, only that there is a “Sovereign LORD” over them. Wait until they hear the message!
In three short verses, God tells Ezekiel that the people to whom he is sending him are “rebellious,” “obstinate,” “stubborn,” “briers,” and “thorns,” “scorpions” (or “scorpion-like thorn bush”). Furthermore, they may or may not listen to him and it doesn’t make any difference to God, because he has already set in motion judgment for their hostility and antagonism to Him. The natural course of their life choices has determined their future consequences (cf, 33:33). Certain lifestyles and attitudes will inexorably lead to certain outcomes and it doesn’t take divine intervention or judgment to determine these results (cf, Gal. 6:7-8).
God does not promise to defend or comfort Ezekiel in his mission. God does not promise His presence during the people’s pushback. Later, God tells Ezekiel that He will harden his “forehead” (3:8) and make him as unyielding as the stubborn people, but that is later and that divine help somehow leaves a bit to be desired when Ezekiel is facing scorpion-like opposition. This is quite different from the Jeremiah call when the LORD promises to “rescue” Jeremiah and “be with” him (Jer. 1:8).
Ezekiel’s message is to the Israelites, but God calls them “nations” or “goyim” (Hebrew) (vs. 3), the term usually used in the Old Testament for the heathen nations. Note that the sins of the “fathers” or “forefathers” (Hebrew = “aboth”) (vs. 3) are continued by the “descendents” or “sons” (Hebrew = “banim”) (vs. 4). Generational sin on display yet again in the scriptures. The phrase “whether they listen or fail to listen” is unique in the scriptures and indicates the LORD God may have “given them over to the sinful desires of their hearts.” (Rom. 1:24)
Christian journalist, be prepared for pushback in the newsroom when you stand up for Jesus. There is no question Ezekiel was a bit odd and the LORD God had him do some strange things. Christians can seem odd and strange and even bad to those “goyim” outside the faith. Because our worldview will increasingly upset our neighbors the Lord’s admonition to “not be afraid” (three times in three verses) needs to be taken to heart. We have been forewarned to expect opposition so we cannot be surprised. Furthermore, we should have the sensitivities of God when we report and write. We should look for underreported stories that uncover spiritual rebellion in our culture. Sin always makes for a good story and having the mind of God as we approach the story will give us an edge on wisdom. Finally, we are not responsible for the reaction to our stories if the stories are done accurately. We cannot determine the outcome of what we write. Success for us as Christian journalists is not measured in activism or change in public policy but rather in obedience to what we believe to be the truth of a given story and the skillful reporting of that truth.