Bible Study: Ezekiel 3 – Watchman for Israel

The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.

Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

The third chapter of Ezekiel deals with instructions to him from God and he made as as a watchman to Israel.

Scroll of lamentation and mourning and woe

Ezek 3:1-5 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel–

Eating the scroll expressed as prophesying is very similar to what was told in the book of Revelation.

Rev 10:8-11 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

As we see, the scroll tasted as sweet as honey.

Ps 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

God’s words are compared to the sweetness of honey. But because of the rebellious nature of Israel, it will bring bitterness, mourning, lamentations and woe. God is saying to Ezekiel to prophesy God’s words and they will not be sweet as honey to them.

Num 5:27 ‘When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people.

This is also a representation of the law of jealousy of our Heavenly Father toward’s her wife Israel who had gone astray by committing harlotry with other gods.

Sent to his own people

Ezek 3:6-11 not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.” And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”

Ezekiel was sent to his own countrymen in exile and God tells him they would not listen to him because they would not listen to God. Ezekiel eating the scroll and told to prophesy is very identical to John eating the scroll and told to prophesy. However, both are separate events and not same.

Rev 10:10-11 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

While Ezekiel was told to prophesy to his own countrymen, John was told to prophesy to many people, nations, tongues and kings. Hence, both are very different events.

Ezekiel arrives at Tel Abib

Possible location of Tel Abib near Kebar River

Ezek 3:12-15 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound– May the glory of the LORD be praised in his dwelling place!– the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days– overwhelmed.

The Spirit lifted Ezekiel up and took him away, and he arrived at Tel Abib near Kebar River. It is now identified as some unknown location close to Nippur and it’s location is the picture above.

A watchman for the house of Israel

Ezek 3:16-21 At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

Person Watchman’s Responsibility Person’s Judgement Watchman’s Accountability
Wicked or Righteous To warn that they will surely die if they do evil. will die for sins if they did not hear the watchman held accountable for the blood of the wicked if watchman fails in his responsibility of not warning them
What does held accountable for the blood of the wicked?

2Sam 4:11 “How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?” 

If the watchman doesn’t warn the people who are sinning, then if they die in their sins, then their blood will be on the watchman’s hands. The consequence of being accountable for the blood of the wicked is removing the watchman from earth or death. 

Whoever will listen let him listen, whoever will refuse let him refuse

Ezek 3:22-27 The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the LORD was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

The Lord is instructing Ezekiel to say exactly what He wants to say to the rebellious house. God also said, whoever will listen let him listen and whoever will refuse let him refuse.