Ezekiel 3:16 MEANING

Ezekiel 3:16
(16) At the end of seven days.--A fresh Divine communication comes to the prophet, designed especially to impress upon him the responsibility of his office (Ezekiel 3:16-21). In Ezekiel 33:1-20 the same charge is repeated with some amplification, and there Ezekiel 3:2-6 are taken up with describing the duties of the military sentinel, upon which both these figurative addresses are founded. The language is there arranged in the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, to which there is indeed an approach here, but too imperfect to be easily represented in English. What is said there, moreover, is expressly required to be spoken to the people (Ezekiel 3:1), while this seems to have been immediately for the prophet's own ear.

The substance of the communication in either place is this: man must in all cases live or die according to his own personal righteousness or sinfulness; but such a responsibility rests upon the watchman, that if he die unwarned his blood will be required at the watchman's hand. The responsibility extends only, however, to the giving of the warning, not to its results: when the warning is given the watchman has "delivered his soul," whether it is heeded or not. The word soul in Ezekiel 3:19; Ezekiel 3:21, as also in Ezekiel 33:5; Ezekiel 33:9, is not to be understood distinctively of the immortal part of man, but is equivalent to life, and forms here, as often in Hebrew, little more than a form of the reflective, thy soul = thyself.

In this charge the individual and personal relation in which every Israelite stood to God is strongly emphasised, that they may neither feel themselves lost because their nation is undergoing punishment, nor, on the other hand, think that no repentance is required of them individually because they "had Abraham to their father." The gradual bringing out more and more fully the individual relation of man to God, at the expense of the comparative sinking of the federal relation, is one of the most strongly marked features of the progress of revelation, and at no other time was this progress so great as under the stern discipline of the captivity. In Ezekiel's office of "watchman," there is even an approach to the pastoral "cure of souls" under the Christian dispensation. Such an office had almost no place under the Old Testament, and. Ezekiel is the only one of the prophets who is charged to exercise this office distinctly towards individuals. Habakkuk, indeed, speaks of standing upon his watch on the tower (Habakkuk 2:1); Jeremiah, of the watchmen whom the people would not hear (Jeremiah 6:17); and Isaiah, of the "blind watchmen" (Isaiah 56:10); but the duty of all these was far more collective and national.

3:12-21 This mission made the holy angels rejoice. All this was to convince Ezekiel, that the God who sent him had power to bear him out in his work. He was overwhelmed with grief for the sins and miseries of his people, and overpowered by the glory of the vision he had seen. And however retirement, meditation, and communion with God may be sweet, the servant of the Lord must prepare to serve his generation. The Lord told the prophet he had appointed him a watchman to the house of Israel. If we warn the wicked, we are not chargeable with their ruin. Though such passages refer to the national covenant made with Israel, they are equally to be applied to the final state of all men under every dispensation. We are not only to encourage and comfort those who appear to be righteous, but they are to be warned, for many have grown high-minded and secure, have fallen, and even died in their sins. Surely then the hearers of the gospel should desire warnings, and even reproofs.And it came to pass at the end of seven days,.... Some think it was on the sabbath day he had the following declaration made to him, and instructions given him; but this is not certain; nor does it follow, or to be concluded, from such a way of speaking:

that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying; the Targum is,

"the word of prophecy from before the Lord.''

Courtesy of Open Bible