First Symbol in Ezekiel (Series Continues)
Symbol Making and Generalizations
The creation of Ezekiel as a symbol through individual images and generalizations derived thereof
Generalizations are listed in bulleted form. Those sections enclosed by brackets [ ..] are observations but not derivable as generalizations from the text under consideration.
The book of Ezekiel is one of the richest and most fertile of all biblical books. It is tempting to want to “mine” out many principles from it, but in this study we shall attempt to limit ourselves to the symbolic images God imposed on Ezekiel, and to generalize from them.
First symbol: The Word-Eater
Before the sapphire throne, Ezekiel is presented with a scroll of a book held before him in an outstretched hand. God displays it out before him, showing him the front and the reverse of all of it, written to a group of people (including Jews) He now calls “goyim,” or Gentiles. Ezekiel sees that he must first ingest it before he can convey it to others. He also knows that he does not face a language barrier (these people speak the same dialect as him) but a much more difficult challenge posed by those who will understand, definitionally, the meaning of his words but both be ignorant of their significance while rejecting the words morally. The rebellion of the people is so great that they are both willfully ignorant and deliberately rebellious while having no excuse for not understanding what he would say.
What we can generalize about this symbol:
“¢ When God calls someone to a task, He requires that they first internalize His Word, for only by His direct sustaining from the outside and the strength of the message inside can such a one endure the direct action of God on his life as well as the opposition of men.
[This internalizing of the Word can include memorization (hiding the Word in the heart) and seeing how a particular passage harmonizes with the rest of Scripture. However, the most secure way of internalizing a passage is immersion (repeated reading and contemplation.)]
“¢ Ingesting the word is initially sweetness to the submitted servant, but when it must be conveyed as a message of doom to others, it carries bitterness with it.
“¢ Submission to a hard task may come in stages. For Ezekiel, he had to be told twice to eat the scroll, and even after putting it in his mouth he was told to fill his belly with it, not just his mouth.
“¢ In Ezekiel”‘s case, God showed him that there would be three separate effects of his message. One would be that people would be able to understand his words. Secondly, his words would convict them that he was a prophet. And thirdly, they would reject those words. In such a case””where there is no language barrier, where the authority of the one who speaks is unmistakable and then the Word is rejected””the rejection is due to a rebellious heart and a refusal to understand. Rejection of the Word under such circumstances would have to be seen as the manifestation of a moral failure of the listener.
“¢ We would have to consider the information source of such rebellious people. What would be informing them would not be the Lord, but their own naturalistic minds. It could not be that they have lost all ability to appraise, because they will conclude that the one bringing the message brings it from God. Thus we do not have a breakdown of the ability to think clearly, just the manifestation of an information source.
“¢ Rejection of a prophetic message under these circumstances is tantamount to rejecting the Lord Himself.
“¢ Under such circumstances, God”‘s man could expect to be hardened by the Lord””toughened” to an extent correlative to the hardness of the hearts of his listeners. He must be immune to their threats, and immune to his own fears. He would also be tempted to himself rebel (be informed by his naturalistic mind) and would need reminders not to do that.