The book of Ezekiel contains some of the most vivid and powerful prophecies in all of Scripture. In Ezekiel chapter 2, we read about Ezekiel’s divine calling and commissioning as a prophet. This text provides deep insight into what it means to be called by God and to operate in prophetic ministry. In this chapter, we see principles that apply not only to Ezekiel, but to all believers who seek to be used by God.
Ezekiel chapter 2 begins with God commissioning Ezekiel to be a prophet to rebellious Israel. Ezekiel is called “son of man” throughout this book, emphasizing his humanity in contrast to the divine glory of God that he encounters. Yet God tells Ezekiel in verse 3, “I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.” This immediately shows the difficulty of Ezekiel’s prophetic calling. He is sent to speak God’s words to a stubborn people who are rebelling against the Lord.
This chapter provides a model for how God equips those He calls. First, Ezekiel has a powerful encounter with God’s glory in chapter 1. Now, having seen the Lord’s glory, Ezekiel is ready to hear God’s commissioning and to receive power to carry it out. The same principle applies today – God’s calling is based on experiencing His presence and glory. Out of that divine encounter, we receive grace and strength to fulfill our commission.
As we study this profound text, we will examine key themes that emerge:
- The Sovereignty of God in Calling and Commissioning
- God’s Presence Strengthens for Ministry
- Speaking God’s Words Despite Opposition
- Internalizing God’s Word
- The Importance of Obedience
By understanding these key truths, we can gain wisdom that applies both to prophetic ministry and to following God’s call in our lives today. While some details relate specifically to Ezekiel’s situation, the core principles remain relevant. As the New Testament confirms, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
The Sovereignty of God in Calling and Commissioning
A key theme of this chapter is God’s sovereignty in calling and empowering Ezekiel for ministry. While God calls all believers to service, some are appointed to special roles, like Ezekiel’s prophetic office. As Ezekiel 2 makes clear, this commissioning only comes through direct divine appointment and enabling.
First, we see God’s sovereignty in initial calling and revelation. Verse 1 states, “He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.'” This demonstrates that prophetic ministry requires a sovereign, dynamic encounter with God’s presence and glory, not just human effort. The calling starts with God, not Ezekiel. Unless the Lord reveals Himself and speaks, Ezekiel has nothing to share.
Furthermore, God is the one who commissions and sends Ezekiel. Verse 3 declares, “I am sending you to the Israelites.” Ezekiel does not volunteer or choose this mission himself – God sovereignly appoints him. Ezekiel is not speaking his own message, but God’s words to rebellious Israel. This shows that genuine prophetic ministry flows from God’s direction, not human choice.
In addition, it is the Spirit who empowers Ezekiel for ministry. Verse 2 states, “As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.” The Spirit enables him to stand before God and strengthens him for the task ahead. Unless God imparted spiritual power, Ezekiel could never fulfill his calling.
This principle of God’s sovereignty applies to believers today. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Like Ezekiel, our calling and ministry gifts come from God Himself, not our own effort. As Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit” (John 15:16). We rely on the Spirit’s empowerment, not mere human ability.
God’s Presence Strengthens for Ministry
This passage also highlights how encountering God’s presence strengthens us for ministry. In chapter 1, Ezekiel has an astonishing vision of the glory of the Lord. Ezekiel writes, “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God…I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire” (1:1, 27). Beholding this awe-inspiring vision of God’s splendor fills Ezekiel with boldness for his calling.
Now in chapter 2, Ezekiel hears God’s voice commissioning him, saying “Son of man, stand up” (2:1). Ezekiel is no longer prostrate before the Lord’s glory but is enabled to stand upright, ready to receive his prophetic assignment. This signifies that experiencing God’s presence braces us for ministry. As Ezekiel encountered the Lord’s glory, he received new spiritual strength and courage.
Being in God’s presence reorients us away from ourselves and to the One who is sending us. Ezekiel could have focused on his own inadequacies – “Who am I to speak for God?” But after beholding the Lord’s glory, Ezekiel becomes centered on carrying out God’s will, not his own limitations. A fresh glimpse of who God is eclipses all else.
Likewise, as believers today spend time being with the Lord in prayer, worship, and meditation on Scripture, we become spiritually prepared for God’s work. Our focus shifts from ourselves to the Lord and His purposes. We gain holy boldness to serve Him, despite our human weakness. God’s presence strengthens our inner core and renews our passion to follow Him.
Speaking God’s Words Despite Opposition
Another key theme of this chapter is that God commissions Ezekiel to speak His words faithfully, even though the people will oppose the message. God warns Ezekiel in verse 3 that he is being sent to “a rebellious nation.” Verse 4 clarifies that the Israelites are “obstinate and stubborn.”
This reveals a core aspect of prophetic ministry – it often involves speaking hard truths to resistant people. Ezekiel is not called to speak pleasant platitudes but to confront Israel in their rebellion against God. Their obstinacy does not deter Ezekiel from fulfilling his calling.
Verses 6-7 reaffirm this, saying:
“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 people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen.” (NIV)
God warns Ezekiel that his message will face hostility. The people’s opposition is likened to briers, thorns, and scorpions – sharp, painful realities surrounding Ezekiel on his mission.
Yet God tells Ezekiel not to fear but to speak His words with boldness and faithfulness. Ezekiel is responsible to proclaim the message; the people are responsible to listen and accept it. As Charles Spurgeon said, “The best answer to those who oppose the truth is to proclaim it yet more widely.”
Certainly this applies to believers today who are called to share the Gospel and Biblical truth. Like Ezekiel, we must speak God’s Word with conviction and compassion to a world often hardened against Him. Opposition should not deter us but stir us to share Christ’s love more ardently in both word and deed.
Internalizing God’s Word
Woven throughout Ezekiel 2 is the theme of internalizing God’s Word – taking it deep into one’s heart and life. In verse 3, God tells Ezekiel, “I am sending you,” indicating that the words Ezekiel speaks come from God, not himself. Then in verse 7, God instructs Ezekiel, “You must speak my words to them.” The prophet is called to convey what God says, not merely personal opinions.
Furthermore, verse 8 states, “But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people.” Here, God exhorts Ezekiel first to listen carefully and receive the Word himself, before preaching it to others. He should have a submissive heart that trembles at God’s Word (v.7), unlike the rebellious Israelites.
Verse 10 continues: “On the scroll that was handed to him were written words of lament, mourning, and woe.” God gave Ezekiel a written message to consume and then share orally. The Word had to penetrate Ezekiel’s inner being before he could transmit it to the people.
This principle applies profoundly today, reminding us that God’s Word must dwell richly in our hearts if we want to share it with power and sincerity. As presenters of Biblical truth, our lives must exemplify what we proclaim. Internalizing Scripture shapes our character and thinking to align with God’s truth.
The psalmist captured this in saying, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). When God’s Word permeates us, it guides all we say and do. Our lives and message carry integrity.
The Importance of Obedience
A final key theme woven through this chapter is the necessity and blessing of obedience. When God first addresses Ezekiel in verse 1, He commands, “Son of man, stand up on your feet.” Despite Ezekiel’s awestruck state, he chose to obey and stood up. This small act of obedience prepared the way for God to use Ezekiel powerfully.
Then in verse 3, God declares to Ezekiel, “I am sending you.” Ezekiel could have resisted God’s call, offering excuses like Moses did initially (Exodus 3-4). But instead Ezekiel submitted and aligned his will with God’s direction for his life.
Furthermore in verse 7, God instructs Ezekiel not to fear the people, but to speak His words faithfully. Once again, Ezekiel obeyed despite the inevitable opposition he faced. His obedience positioned him to be God’s instrument in declaring truth to rebellious Israel.
In the New Testament, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). Our love and devotion to Christ expresses itself in obeying what He calls us to, just as Ezekiel obeyed God’s difficult commission despite opposition. As believers today, obeying God’s voice prepares us for fruitful service in His kingdom.
Ezekiel’s profound prophetic calling and commission in chapter 2 provides invaluable perspective on what it means to be used by God. While certain details were unique to Ezekiel’s role, we can derive core principles that apply to believers today:
- Our calling and gifting originates in God’s sovereign choice, not human effort. We rely on the Spirit’s empowerment.
- Encountering God’s presence renews spiritual strength for ministry and focuses us on God’s purposes rather than ourselves.
- We are to faithfully speak God’s Word with boldness, regardless of how people respond.
- Internalizing Scripture is vital for living out and conveying Biblical truth with sincerity and conviction.
- Obedience to God’s commands and call on our lives is crucial for walking in His will and carrying out His work.
As we reflect on Ezekiel’s profound commission in light of these principles, may God speak to each of us, calling us higher in our service for His kingdom. Just as He transformed Ezekiel from prostrate to standing, God wants to equip us for greater works. May we respond like Ezekiel with courage, faithfulness, and passion to make Christ known, even in the face of opposition.
- God sovereignly calls and gifts people for specific roles based on His purposes. Our ministry flows from the Spirit’s empowerment.
- Beholding God’s glory strengthens us for service by shifting our focus to God rather than ourselves or our inadequacies.
- We must faithfully speak God’s Word regardless of how people respond – our job is to share truth with compassion.
- For our lives and message to have integrity, Scripture must dwell richly in our hearts, shaping our inner person.
- Obedience to God expresses love for Him and positions us for fruitful ministry in alignment with His will.